Don't go sailing by
department on your
next food shopping
trip and skip over
After all, everyone checking out your cart will look askance. What? No greens??? So if you are worried about your reputation at all, you will surely make sure a few bunches of them are peeking out of your grocery bag leaving the store just to keep up appearances, at the very least.
What Greens Can Do For YouNow that you have been shamed into buying them, here is why you'll be glad you did:
Green means chlorophyll. That is a good thing. Our body likes chlorophyll and the way it can help clear toxins, make our breath smell better and act as a great wound healer.
Greens protect those baby blues, or greens or browns. The phytonutrients beta-carotene and lutein protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems.
Greens are popular in the Superfoods listings. Yes, greens are high in the charts for vitamins A, K and C , folate and many minerals like potassium and they have fiber and lots of calcium too - especially those turnip greens.
Leafy greens can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and memory loss. The high level of folate contained in them is why it helps so much in this area..
Everyone will say you look 10 years younger. The vitamin E works with vitamin C to keep skin healthy as you age when you eat your greens. This vitamin also helps protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays.
How To Prepare GreensThere are many, many types of greens and many, many varieties within each type. While shopping the local markets though, six types seemed to be abundant and readily available, thus, I have chosen to feature them here. Here they are and a few suggestions on how to prepare them. (Click on the green link, of course.) They are in order of mildest to strongest in flavor.
1. Spinach is the mildest of the set here. Spinach makes an indistinguishable base for a green smoothie. The fruit flavor takes over in a smoothie with spinach. Another way to get a few servings of this green is to add it to a flavor packed pasta with olives, goat cheese, and turkey sausage. Making a pesto with lemon, olive oil, chili flakes and Parmesean cheese is another great way to get this green in your diet.
2. The colored stems and veins of Swiss Chard, either solid red or in multiple rainbow shades, have a tender texture which makes them nice layered in a gratin or vegetarian lasagna, or in a simple saute. They are mild as well and would be a great addition if cut into dice to add to a beans and rice dish.
3. Who hasn't flipped through a magazine and seen recipes for Kale? Exactly. No one. But, maybe you haven't taken some left over mashed sweet potatoes and added some finely diced kale to the mix and made potato pancakes or added some to your latest pot pie of sorts.
4. The Southerner's deeply love the Collards. Well, let's keep it Southern then by serving those collards in this barbeque quesedilla. Just sub out the collards for the mushrooms and add lots of fresh lime juice. Or take as Asian route and finely dice some collards and make a marinated slaw with some flavors of sesame, chili, almonds and green onion.
5. Going on a ski weekend? Bring some Turnip Greens and do a quick saute with apricots, a splash of sherry vinegar atop a creamy brie for a tasty bruschetta. Or, this lovely gumbo sounds delish (lots of other greens in the recipe, too, by the way.)
6. Mustard Greens are the strongest in flavor within this grouping and can be quiet peppery. Chop them up well and make a topping combined with caramelized onions and tomato, as well as a big drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Serve them over one of my favorite bases - a crispy square of polenta.
Green TipsGreens are unique. Here are some things to consider when preparing greens:
Big shrinkage. That massive bunch of greens the grower at the farmers market is trying to load on you? Well, . . . he or she is right. Plan on one pound of raw leaves for just two people. Multiply accordingly.
Down and dirty. If buying greens at the farmer's market especially, lots of sand can be clinging to the leaves. Wash well. My method? I devein and chop them first, throw them in a sink full of water. swish well and then lift them into a large colander. (Don't pull out the sink drain and let the greens sink to the bottom as then they will collect all that sand again.) I then toss them well with my hands with the water running over the greens as well just to be sure.
Take a ribbing. Remove the ribs of most greens before cooking. Baby spinach gets a pass.
Buy in season: Winter time is the best season for collards, turmip and mustard greens. So best to buy them then as they are the least bitter and best tasting.
Prep first. When you get home from the market, don't just shove the bag of greens in the refrigerator. You may not be motivated to wash and de-vein them when you are pressed for time later. It is better if you can remove the rib, clean and store them in a plastic bag or special produce bag with a dry paper towel. Then it is just grab, chop and into the pan. Use them within a few days though.
So, which greens are your favorite and yummy way to prepare them? Please share and let us learn from you!
spinach: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/richardnorth/7804918922/">richard_north</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>
collard grens: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/metalriot/4303896255/">MetalRiot</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
swiss chard: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/godutchbaby/5147400250/">godutchbaby</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>