How to use watercress and other greens-and why you should

Greens are a superfood because they are so nutritious, are inexpensive to grow, and come in many varieties with a broad diversity of flavors and textures.

Despite the name, this blog isn’t about watercress, but is like watercress-unique, peppery, bright and nutritious. And as a physician blogger, I want to know more about the health benefits (and possible dangers) from watercress.

So while searching for information about watercress, I found an intriguing book,

the book of greens-a cook’s compendium

More specifically, it is

“A cook’s compendium of 40 varieties, from Arugula to Watercress, with more than 175 recipes” from the title page

The authors

Jenn Louis has competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs,” and has earned two nominations for the James Beard Foundation Award of Best Chef: Northwest. Her debut cookbook, Pasta By Hand published in 2015, was nominated for an IACP from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and this, her second book, debuted in April 2017 and won an IACP award. The book was also nominated for a James Beard Award.

She has owned and operated three restaurants and a catering business in Portland, Oregon. Jenn is actively involved with nonprofits including World Central Kitchen, Alex’s Lemonade and Share Our Strength.

Kathleen Squires is a food and travel writer from New York City. She has coauthored The Coolhaus Ice Cream Book, The Quick Six Fix, and The Journey, which won an IACP award.

Why write about greens?

The Book of Greens is about 40 different varieties of greens; some you probably already know and use-

  • arugula
  • bok choy
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • kale
  • lettuces
  • spinach

Others are less known and used, at least to me-

  • agretti
  • chickweed
  • mache
  • mizuna
  • seaweed
  • succulents
  • wild and foraged greens
Greens are a superfood because they are so nutritious, are inexpensive to grow, and come in many varieties with a broad diversity of flavors and textures. Jenn Louis

green leafy vegetables
image from LIGHTSTOCK.COM, stock photo site, an affiliate link

What’s in The Book of Greens?

This book is a cookbook, not a textbook on greens, so it features recipes, some simple, some complicated, but all incorporating some variety of greens. She starts by covering some cooking basics as it applies to greens-

  • How to buy greens-fresh, in small quantities
  • How to prepare-clean and handle them gently
  • How to cook-which methods work best for each variety
  • Storage of greens
  • Tools to use in prep and cooking
  • Notes on common ingredients used in cooking greens-oils, spices, salts, stocks, vinegars
  • Seasons-when to buy

Watercress basics –Nasturtium officinale

an ultrapeppery, strong-stemmed green, one of the oldest documented greens, dating back to ancient Greece, Rome, and Persia page 271
  • most often used in salads and sandwiches, and pureed as a soup
  • used in sandwiches for British afternoon tea
  • prescribed by Hippocrates (an ancient Greece physician, considered the father of medicine)
  • used by Captain Cook’s crew to prevent scurvy

This last point was likely due to its Vitamin C content; a deficiency causes the disease scurvy. It also is rich in other vitamins- A, B, E, K, and the minerals calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Some experts call it the most nutrient-rich vegetable.

How to use watercress

Watercress grows in the spring and fall in North America. She calls it a tender green which can be eaten raw or cooked. Best cooking methods are

  • lightly sauteed
  • wilted in soups
  • quickly steamed
  • quickly stir-fried over very high heat

Watercress recipes in this book

  • Chicken and pork belly paella with watercress
  • Slow-roasted pork tonnato with watercress and tomatoes
  • Watercress soup with creme fraiche and za’atar

Wild watercress-Nasturtium microphyllium

This watercress relative grows wild, rather than cultivated. It has a “more intense peppery and piquant flavor.” It grows in any watery terraine-streams, lakes, ponds. (Edible wild greens must be chosen carefully, so as not to confuse them with poisonous plants.)

In addition to the authors, the photographer, Ed Anderson, deserves special recognition. His photos of the greens and the finished recipes make this a “coffee table book”, even if you never try a single recipe.

Also by Jenn louis, pasta by hand

Other posts on this blog about watercress

powerhouse vegetables

“A 2014 research study tried to determine exactly which fruits and vegetables were most likely to keep us healthy.

They defined  “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” as those  highest in nutrients, specifically the minerals potassium, calcium, iron and zinc and vitamins A,B,C, D, E and K. ” continue reading at the link above

exploring the HEART of healthy cooking

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr Aletha

These are affiliate links that you may find helpful and which help fund this blog and it’s mission to share the HEART of health around the world.

Answers about health from the world’s smartest woman

She has one of the highest IQs in the world. She is certifiably the world’s smartest woman, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. She is married to none other than Dr. Robert Jarvik, developer of the artificial heart.

What the word needs now is love, sweet love, that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” 

Hal David, lyricist

One of my Sunday traditions is reading Parade , a magazine in the newspaper. One of my favorite parts is the “Ask Marilyn” column where Marilyn Vos Savant answers complex questions on a wide range of subjects- math, science, medicine, technology, economics , games, sports and just about any topic you can imagine.

I have wondered how she does it, imagining it must take hours and hours of research.

But then I learned her history.  She has one of the highest IQs in the world. She is the world’s smartest woman, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, having one of the highest IQs ever recorded.

Parade published an article about how she met her husband. She is married to none other than Dr. Robert Jarvik, developer of the artificial heart.

He called her after reading a magazine article about her, and they had a long distance courtship lasting one year.

At their wedding, science fiction author Isaac Asimov walked her down the aisle; the best man was the 7th recipient of one of the Jarvik artificial hearts! How’s that for romantic. They have been happily married since 1987.      

Isaac Asimov: The Complete Stories, Vol. 1

Books by Marilyn Vos Savant 

Growing Up: A Classic American Childhood

The Power of Logical Thinking 

exploring the HEART of health by Marilyn  

After she and Dr. Jarvik married, she became Chief Financial Officer of Jarvik Heart, Inc. But she also addresses health issues in the questions she answers in her Parade column and online. Here is a sample of some of them. (I have paraphrased her answers. )


Why do some drug side effects wear off and some don’t?


Our bodies respond to drugs in different ways, positive and negative. Sometimes the effects are positive, relieving symptoms or curing an illness. Negative effects range from bothersome to dangerous. Either way, effects may increase or decrease depending on our genetic ability to respond to that particular drug. So sometimes drug dosages need to be changeto continue being effective or the med stopped if side effects persist or worsen.


Can you catch a cold from your cat?


Not likely. Viruses that affect dogs and cats are different from those that affect humans, plus humans are susceptible to many more. But mutations an occur and cause animal viruses to infect humans, such as the swine flu.


Why do men burn more calories than women?


A person who weighs more will burn more calories. However, men typically have more muscle mass and women have more fat mass; muscle burns more calories than fat.


How much of our brain do we use; is it true we only use 10%?


No,it is not true. We use nearly all of our brain. Different parts are more active at times, depending on what we are doing. Only a small fraction of our billion brain cells are active at a time.

Read more of Marilyn’s popular answers at this link.


All you need is love.”

Beatles John and Paul (Lennon and McCartney)

(These and some other links in this post are to affiliate sites that may pay this blog a small commission. )

My love story

My husband and I shared a romantic dinner on vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Read about our romance at the link below the photo

man and woman at dinner
Dr. Aletha and Raymond

Two Words That Changed My Life



Sharing the HEART of love

I appreciate your sharing  this post with your friends on your social media pages.

And please follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

Thank you for  viewing  the advertisements and using the affiliate links  that fund this blog; with your  help, we can grow, reach more people, and support worthy causes that bring health and wholeness to people around the world.

Dr Aletha

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