Wow! It’s hard to believe winter is already over. This one just zoomed right by me, I tell ya!
On my walk today, I was surrounded by the undeniable signs of the season turning; birds chirping away gleefully, the sun shining higher in the sky, and feeling ever so much warmer on my skin; snow melting and causing the near-by creek to roar in the distance. Everywhere, Nature slowly awakening from its long dormancy. I’ve even seen a few tentative buds peeking out, but leaves will have to wait a little while longer, as we’re always somewhat behind, up here on the mountain.
Hard to think of spring without having images of bright, tender green dancing in our mind’s eye. In celebration of all the vibrant, beautiful ‘greeness’ to come (or that’s already there for some of you), I thought I’d devote this post to what has become one of our favorite foods: GREENS!
Lately, I’ve been noticing how nearly everything we eat is green. Spring fever you say? Yeah, you might be right. For instance, earlier this week, we had green smoothie, Spinach-Arugula Cream Soup, green salad with my rendition of Green Goddess Dressing, and carrot (oops!) and zucchini pasta with Cilantro-Dill Pesto… All on the same day! See what I mean?
The Popeye Legacy
I grew up with the motto “Eat your greens!” resonating in my ears, and watching Popeye get supernatural powers from gulping down tins of spinach. (Although, as we know, raw would have been wayyyy more potent!) Still, you gotta give it to the guy; he was definitely onto something!
Actually, during my monthly chat with my mom a few nights ago, she told me she had just served some steamed spinach glistening with butter to my dad for supper and (lo and behold!), he complained it tasted ‘too green’. (he he) “It’s good for you!” she replied,”And it’s full of vitamins too!” It was so apropos, I just had to laugh…
Even though she told me the exact same thing countless times in my youth, I was never really sure exactly why greens were so ‘good for me’. It’s hard to operate on blind faith alone (nor should we anyway, right?) Who doesn’t have ‘fond’ memories of forcing greens down their throats? I needed to find out for myself what the heck’s really behind all this rap about greens. So I put a lot of energy into exploring this, researching different sources on the net.
A Couple of Rules of Thumb (Green and Otherwise)
But before I share my findings with you, there’s a few things I feel need saying. As my regular readers know, I usually try to stay clear of the more intellectual aspects surrounding the Raw Food Diet. It was difficult, however, to talk about greens without getting into the ‘why’ they are so ‘good for you’, at least to some degree. In doing this, I feel there’s a risk that you may start beating yourself up over how little greens you eat or scrambling around, trying to come up with an action plan about how to get more into your system.It can get pretty confusing as to ‘what is best for us’ (whether in life in general or when it comes to diet), as we’re constantly being bombarded with contradictory information from right, left and center. It’s so easy to move away from our personal experience and get caught into someone else’s reality. Here’s a couple of rules of thumb that we have learned and found to be helpful along the way in dealing with this difficult issue.
1- Don’t Believe Anything Anybody Else Says (Including Me!)
No matter how respected or knowledgeable someone is (or seem to be) about something, you have to take it with a grain of salt, and experience for yourself what works for you (or doesn’t!) Until that happens, it is going to be nothing but an intellectual concept.
2- It’s All An Experiment Anyway!
Don and I try to approach everything in our lives, including our diet, not as something static and fixated, but rather as an experiment. A fun, everlastingly new and fascinating adventure; its outcomes remaining unknown. This helps us to be gentle on ourselves and avoid the deadly traps of guilt and self-condemnation. Whatever happens, it’s all about learning more about ourselves and how to be in the world.
A’right! Now that’s out of the way, what follows is a summary of my discoveries.
- more vitamin A than carrots
- more vitamin C than oranges
- more vitamin E than whole wheat
- more vitamin B2 than milk
- quality proteins (with a good amino acid profile)
According to Fred, greens “provide essential alkaline minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, that are found in insufficient quantities in fruit, nuts and seeds, not to mention in other more conventional, acid-forming foods.” They are also rich in potassium, iron and zinc. All of which are essential for human health.
Ahhhhh! OK, now I’m starting to get the picture!
Even though the ‘Eat Your Greens’ campaign has been going on for at least a few decades, Victoria Boutenko has given the old adage a fresh twist. In the last couple of years, with the release of her book Green for Life, she has actually started a little ‘Green Revolution’.
Sure, green drinks have been the ‘in thing’ for a while in the health-oriented community, but Victoria’s green smoothies have taken things to a whole new level. Personally, I’ve always had a hard time going for the powdered stuff, be it supplements or so-called ‘super foods’. As Fred puts it: “there’s no ‘food’ that arrives in a bottle, having been made in a factory and sold in powdered form, that will ever compare in terms of ‘super-nutrition’ to fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Because minerals and other nutrients interact with each other in a way that can affect their absorption in the body, eating a plant whole is essential for complete assimilation.”Even the best ‘powder’ made of vegetables or algae looks bleak,” Fred continues, “in comparison with the nutritional value obtained from fresh vegetables.” This is what makes green smoothies so incredibly powerful.
The Holy Green Quest
After many years on a Raw Diet, during which they cured themselves of a variety of ‘incurable’ diseases, Victoria and her family felt that their health reached a plateau. They even started noticing signs of unhealth – a fact that she found very disturbing. Knowing that something wasn’t quite right, Victoria embarked on a search for what was missing in their diet; a long journey which eventually led her to greens. “The more I read about the nutritional content of greens,” she recalls, “the more I became convinced that greens are the most important food for humans.”To pinpoint the ‘missing link’, however, was only part of the answer for Victoria. She still wanted to know how much greens we need to eat for optimum health. In order to do that, she studied the eating habits of chimpanzees, since they are considered to be the closest creatures to human beings. “According to recent scientific research, they share 99.4 % of the same genes with humans.” What she discovered is that greens compose almost half of their diet.
Based on her findings, Victoria now recommends to “work up to the equivalent of one average-sized bunch of greens per day”, per person. (Whoa! That’s A LOT of greens! We’re talking 28 bunches a week for her family of four! How many fridges do they have?)
Get The Goodies
As Frederic points out in his ‘Power of Greens Mini-Course’, “we need to eat greens in such a way that the nutrients can be easily assimilated by the body. Salads are great, but often the tough fiber of greens is not chewed or broken down well enough…This is in addition to the fact that most people’s digestion is not as optimal as it could be.”
The solution? (and here’s how Victoria Boutenko’s discovery has revolutionized the way we think about greens): just let your blender do the work!
Drink Your Greens
Who would have thought that blending fruits and leafy green vegetables could make such a delicious and energizing brew! A veritable nutritional powerhouse! It’s one of those things you gotta experience in order to believe it.
When she concocted her very first green smoothie, Victoria was initially a little skeptical. But then she discovered that by mixing the leafy greens with the right amount of fruits, the result was unlike anything she had ever tasted before: delicious, tasty and full of ‘freshness’.
After consuming green smoothies daily for a month, Victoria started to see “noticeable benefits in her health.” She says that even the people who came to her office and drank an occasional cup of green smoothie would notice health improvements in themselves, such as craving more raw foods, weight loss and a receding eczema condition.
Here are a few of the incredible benefits of green smoothies that I learned in Raw Family’s “Ode to Green Smoothies”, posted in their January 2005 Newsletter.
- Green smoothies are easy to digest. When blended well, all the valuable nutrients in these fruits and veggies become homogenized, or divided into such small particles that it becomes easy for the body to assimilate these nutrients, the green smoothies literally start to get absorbed in your mouth.
- Green smoothies, as opposed to juices, are a complete food because they still have fiber.
- Green smoothies belong to the most palatable dishes for all humans of all ages. With a ratio of fruits to veggies as 60:40, the fruit taste dominates the flavor, yet at the same time the green vegetables balance out the sweetness of the fruit, adding nice zest to it. Green smoothies are simply the best tasting dishes for the majority of adults and children.
- By consuming two or three cups of green smoothies daily, you will consume enough of greens for the day to nourish your body, and they will be well assimilated. Many people do not consume enough of greens, even those who stay on a raw food diet. The molecule of chlorophyll has only one atom that makes it different from a molecule of human blood. According to teachings of Dr. Ann Wigmore, to consume chlorophyll is like receiving a healthy blood transfusion.
- Green smoothies are easy to make, and quick to clean up after.
- Green smoothies are perfect food for children of all ages, including babies of six or more months old when introducing new food to them after mother’s milk.
- When you consume your greens in the form of green smoothies, you can greatly reduce the consumption of oils and salt in your diet.
- Regular consumption of green smoothies forms a good habit of eating greens. Several people told me that after a couple of weeks of drinking green smoothies, they started to crave and enjoy eating more greens.
Shades of Green
As we’ve just seen, green vegetables are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. But not only do we need to include a sufficient quantity in our diet, we’ve also got to have a good variety too.
Victoria stresses the importance of rotating in order to get as many different greens as we can. Some of the greens that contain the highest mineral content are the darker kinds and include: bok choy, broccoli raab, cabbage, celery, collards, kale, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens and watercress.
Not all of those are good in smoothies or soups, however. Some might be at their best in juices or in salads. It’s for you to experiment and discover what form is most enjoyable to you.
Now that I’ve got you all hyped and excited about eating your greens (I hope!), here’s a few easy ways to help you ‘go green’.
Green smoothies may seem a little strange at first, but (as some of you may know), you quickly develop a taste for them. Now, at our place, we can’t do without them! When we discovered green smoothies last summer, our first few creations were a little off putting. Still, we persisted until we found which went best, and the ratio of fruits to greens that we felt most comfortable with. If you haven’t already, here are a few ideas to start you off…
Banana Blueberry Brew
By Frederic Patenaude
- 1 cup water
- 3 bananas
- 1 cup frozen blueberries (or fresh in season)
- 1 handful parsley
- 2 leaves kale
Blend water with fruits, and add greens progressively until smooth.
Use more or less water, as desired.
Green Papaya Smoothie
By Tera Warner
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 -3 cups papaya
- 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
- 2 bananas
- 3 big leaves swiss chard, no stem
Blend water papayas, and add other ingredients progressively. Blend until smooth. Delicious!
Our Daily Green Fuel
Don prepares our green smoothie around noon and we sip on it throughout the day. The last few months, our usual combination has been something like this:
Yields 7 to 8 cups
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 to 3 bananas (fresh or frozen)
- 2 cups of fruits of choice (fresh or frozen)
- 2 to 3 cups greens (our favorites include spinach, swiss chard, collard greens and kale)
- Juice of 5 or 6 oranges (or 2 to 3 whole oranges, peeled and seeded)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water
Blend until smooth. Add more or less water, to taste.
(The smoothie on the left was made with swiss chard and beet tops. The latter tends to make the color not-so-green anymore, but it still has all the goodies!)
Sunny Raw Tips
– As we don’t own a high speed blender, Don has found out that it’s best to blend the greens and the fruits without much liquid for a few seconds first. This allows for the fibers of the greens (especially the ‘tougher’ kinds) to be broken up better and therefore more easily assimilated.
– For more great ideas, Victoria’s “Ode to Green smoothies” lists a bunch of delicious combinations. (See Raw Family’s January 2005 Newsletter). There’s also several threads on Raw Food Talk so you might want to check them out. Here are a couple of them:
We Love Our Green Mush!
Another fabulous way to get your greens are soups. Green soups are part of our daily staples. We just have too many favorites to post them all, but here’s a few to tempt your taste buds.
Carmella’s Spinach Cream
- 1 cup tomato
- 1 cup cucumber
- 3 celery stalks
- 3 cups spinach
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 apple
- 1 green onion
- 1 clove garlic
- juice of 1/2 lime
- juice of 1/2 orange
- 2 teaspoons basil
- salt to taste
- 1 cup of water (or more)
Blend until smooth.
We’ve been making this soup for years and are still enjoying it regularly. It was first published in Dr Robert Young’s book ‘The PH Miracle’ and can be found, along with many other tasty raw soup recipes, in a booklet you can download here.
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup water or veggie stock
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 cup raw spinach
- 1/3 red bell pepper
- 2 green onions
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon each garam masala and curry
- Tamari or Real Salt to taste
- Lime or lemon juice, to taste
In blender, add avo and half the water and puree, then add the rest of the ingredients.
Thin with remaining water.
Frederic Patenaude has a number of yummy green soups as well in his book ‘Instant Raw Sensations’. Like me, he has a thing for arugula, aka roquette. It has a bit of a bite and is just wonderful to spike up salads. It’s also delicious in soups:
Spinach Arugula Cream
From Fred Patenaude’s ‘Instant Raw Sensations’
- 1 cup tomatoes
- 1 cup cucumber
- 1 lime, juiced (or 2 tbs apple cider vinegar)
- 1 cup arugula
- 2 cups spinach
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 small avocado
- 2 tablespoons dulse powder (opt)
Blend tomatoes, cucumber and lime juice together. Add in the greens and avo progressively and blend until smooth. Before serving, sprinkle with dulse powder if desired.
Blended salads are a different ‘species’ altogether. OK, they might look like green mush but, as Frederic puts it, they have “the power to completely transform your health.” In his ‘Greens Mini-Course’, he explains that blended salads…
- … can contain more vegetables than green smoothies.
- … can included other types of vegetables you couldn’t include in a green smoothie.
- …are easy to eat. If you want to eat your vegetables but hate to chew a salad for 1 hour, a blended salad is the answer.
- …contain nutrients that are digested and assimilated much more quickly than in a regular salad.
Last summer, when we first tried a blended salad, we weren’t too sold on the idea, as it doesn’t look very appetizing. We also used to add water which tended to dilute the taste. Blended salads are meant to be thick! But we gave it another shot recently and (Surprise! Surprise!) found it delectable! It may not look like much but boy, is it ever good (any way you look at it!)
Here’s Fred’s basic ‘formula’ for making a blended salad:
- In your blender or Vitamix, put in 1-2 tomatoes and/or peeled baby cucumbers cut in chunks, and blend.
- Add some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
- If desired, add half a red bell pepper, and continue blending.
- Add several leaves of lettuce, spinach, and other non-bitter greens. You can also add some green onions.
- Use celery stalks to push the ingredients in the blender (this will blend the stalks too).
- Add half to one avocado, and turn the whole thing into a liquefied, thick green blob.
- Season with powdered dulse (a seaweed). I like to use home-made dehydrated celery powder (as explained in “The Raw Secrets”).
- If desired, add in other seasonings of your choice and enjoy! (Most likely, on your own…)
The following recipe is one of the many possible variations and was utterly delicious!
From Fred Patenaude’s ‘Recipe of the Week’
- 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 lemon, juice of
- 2 cups lettuce
- 1 cup spinach
- 2 green onion
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 3 stalks of celery
- 1 small avocado
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar (optional)
- 2 tablespoons dulse flakes
- 1 sheet of nori, shredded
- 1 tablespoon paprika (optional)
Blend the tomatoes first, until they turn liquid. Then add in the lemon juice, greens, and avocado, pushing with the celery stalks, until the entire mixture is blended.
Flavor with dulse flakes, nori flakes, and/or paprika.
Blend well and enjoy!
Green smoothies and soups are fantastic ways to get more green veggies into your daily diet in a snap. However, Green Cuisine can take many other shapes and forms. Green juices are a great alternative, although, unlike smoothies, they don’t retain all of the precious fibers. And of course there’s good ol’ salads too. (Check out my post on ‘Splendid Salads’ for a bunch of awesome recipes and tips.)
There are countless other delicious ways to be creative with greens. Here’s a few of our latest favorites…
Green Goddess Dressing
- 1 or 2 tablespoons cold pressed olive oil
- 2 tablespoons raw tahini
- 2 tablespoons lemon or lime, juice
- Nama shoyu, tamari or sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 small avocado
- 1 cup parsley (packed)
- 1/4 fresh dill (packed)
- 1 green onion
- 1/2 cup water (or more)
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Add more water until the desired consistency is reached.
This dressing will thicken as it sits, so you may need to add more water later.
- 2 cups cilantro (packed)
- 1 cup fresh dill (packed)
- 2 tablespoons dried basil (or a few leaves fresh)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, ground
- 1/4 cup walnuts, ground
- 2 tablespoons cold pressed olive oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (opt)
- lemon or lime juice, to taste
- salt, to taste
Blend herbs and water until smooth. Then add the rest of the ingredients.
Serve on top of your favorite veggie pasta.
Now, for something quite different, how about green burgers? These are incredibly tasty and perfect to satisfy my ever-growing green cravings…
Posted in RawGuru’s latest newsletter
- 2-3 cups dino or curly kale (chopped) (I didn’t have kale so I used collard and spinach instead)
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs (parsley, dill, or cilantro)
- 1/2 clove fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 3 tablespoons almond powder (I used left-over pulp, from making almond milk)
- 1 fresh tomato
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Crystal Salt
Place the almond butter and tomato in a food processor. Process until mixed. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Add more almond powder if it needs to be firmer. (I ended up using about 5 tbs total)
Taste the patty mixture and form into medium sized balls. Place these balls on a dehydrator sheet and press down on them to form a flat round with a fork. Dehydrate for 6-10 hrs at 110 degrees F. Place in fridge once finished.
Serve on top of Tomato-Herb Bread with avocado mayo. Recipes posted here.
– For a fantastic spread, just skip the dehydration altogether and enjoy on crackers or breads.
– Alternatively, you can also use it as filling for quiche (see recipe below.) Yummo! –
Kale Patties before going into the D:
Kale Patties (left) and ‘Green Power Burgers’ (right) made with a mixture of kale, collards and spinach after dehydration:
And now for the grand finale: my Spinach Mini-Quiches! All this talk about greens got my creative juices going. As I had yet to find a spinach quiche recipe that we really like, I decided it was time for me to come up with one of my own. Most quiche recipes call for psyllium as a thickening agent in the filling, which gives it a slimey texture that Don and I don’t particularly care for. Size was another issue, as a big quiche makes too much for the two of us. So I settled for mini-quiches instead.
These are, hands-down, my most delectable raw creations as of yet. We were both astounded at the result! The Mini-Quiches would also make fantastic finger foods for parties or potlucks.
I experimented with two different kinds of crusts as a base for the quiches. One is the ever-versatile calzone crust from Alissa Cohen’s ‘Living on Live Food’. The other is also found in Alissa’s book, and is the crust from Elaina Love’s Spinach Mushroom Quiche.
Crust #1 :
From the Spinach Mushroom Quiche recipe by Elaina Love
- 3 medium sized yellow zucchini, chopped (about 3 cups)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 cup cold pressed olive or coconut oil
- 1 cup flax meal (about 3/4 cup whole seeds, ground)
- 1 cup soaked almonds (about 1/2 cup before soaking for 8 hours)
1. Blend the zucchini, sea salt and oil until zucchini is smooth.
2. Add the almonds and continue to blend until the entire mixture is smooth. You may need to use a spatula or celery stick to get the mixture to blend.
3. Pour the blended mixture into a bowl and add the flax meal.
4. Here is where I deviated from the original recipe. Using a muffin pan lined with saran wrap, I formed the batter into mini crusts. I put about a couple of tbs of dough in one of the muffin cups. Then, spread it thinly with a wet spoon (makes it easier to work with) and my fingers, all along the bottom and ‘walls’. After a few hours, once the outside shell was dry, I simply pulled on the saran wrap and gently turned the shells over onto the mesh to finish dehydrating.
If you’d rather go for larger sized quiche, just follow Elaina’s original directions:
Shape into 4 pizza shaped crusts on dehydrator screens covered with Teflex sheets. Dehydrate the crusts at 105 degrees for 4 hours.
5. Remove the Teflex sheets and continue to dehydrate until the crusts are hard. It may take 8 or more hours altogether.
Crust #2: Calzone Dough
From Alissa’s ‘Living on Live Food’
- 4 cups Sprouted Buckwheat
- 1 1/2 cups Soaked Flax Seeds
- 3/4 cup Olive Oil (1/4 cup works good!)
- 1 1/2 cups Carrots
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Curry
- 1 teaspoon Rosemary
- 1 teaspoon Thyme
- 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
1. Grind the carrots in food processor. Add in rest of ingredients and blend well until reach dough-like consistency. Mold the dough in muffin pans lined with saran wrap, as described above. Dehydrate for a few hours, and then gently turn onto the mesh to allow for the bottom of the shells to dry.
The crusts on the way to the D. You can see the Calzone Crusts in back and Elaina Love’s in front. I also did a couple with only grated zucchini but they didn’t turn out so well:
Here they are, freshly out of the D:
I also tried a couple of different quiche fillings. One is based on RawGuru’s Kale Patties recipe listed above. The other is a recipe I’ve come up with.
Filling #1: Spinach Almond Filling
Adapted from RawGuru’s Kale Patties
- 2-3 cups spinach (I also used a little collard but you don’t have to)
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs (parsley, dill, or cilantro)
- 1 clove fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons raw almond butter
- 5 tablespoons almond pulp, from making almond milk
- 1 fresh tomato
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Crystal Salt
- A few mushrooms marinated in a little oil and tamari, Nama Shoyu or salt, chopped up
Place the almond butter and tomato in a food processor. Process until mixed. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except for the mushrooms). Taste the filling mixture and adjust seasonings.
Put some marinated mushrooms at the bottom of the shell crusts. Pour filling mixture on top. Decorate with a few mushrooms and dehydrate for a couple of hours at 110.
Filling #2: Spinach Velvet Cream Filling
- 2 avocados
- 4 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 tablespoon cold pressed olive oil
- 3/4 cup zucchini, roughly chopped
- lemon juice, to taste
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 11 cup water or veggie stock2 tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 2lili cups)/2 teaspoon sea salt or more if needed
- Pinch of nutmegli/li (optional)
- 2 tablespoons soaked sun dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
- A few mushrooms marinated in a little oil and tamari, Nama Shoyu or salt, chopped up.
Blend all of the ingredients, except for the sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms, until smooth and consistent. Add water if too thick. If desired, fold sun dried tomatoes into spinach mixture.
Put some marinated mushrooms at the bottom of the shell crusts and pour filling on top. Decorate with a few mushrooms or chopped sun dried tomatoes. Refrigerate for up to 4 hrs or serve immediately.
Devour with abandon!
Riding The Green Wave
In my inbox today, I just saw that Karen Knowler and I were on the same wavelength, celebrating the arrival of Spring by focusing on the magic of greens. Her latest article on ‘How To Go More Green In YOUR Diet’ gives you “10 Easy Ways to Make Green Foods Part of Your Everyday Diet – and Love Them!” (It may not be posted on her site yet, but it should be soon.)
I find Karen’s free weekly e-zine, ‘Successfully Raw’, refreshing and fun. It is also filled with awesome insights into the Raw Diet, thought-provoking articles, as well as recipes and tips. If you haven’t already, you can sign up to receive ‘Successfully Raw’ and get 10 free recipes here.
Karen has also recently decided to personally ‘go more green’ and to keep an online journal about it. Check out her blog, ‘Karen Goes Green’, where she’ll be sharing her “green-related musings, menus, and rediscoveries…”
So hey, now are YOU ready to color your world green too?
P.S. Makes you wonder whether the Big Bad Wolf would have gotten a beating from Little Green Riding Hood, eh?
Awakening by Andee
Taste’s SO good! by ucumari
Ornament by True Bavarian
Spinach by creativity+
Always eat your greens by ucumari
Green Smoothie Watermelon by Sproutgrrl
Very Green Green Smoothie by mercystreet
Jen and marks garden by digitalambitions
Blueberries by heysana