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We all know by now that we should be adding more greens to our plate, but with so many different varieties out there, it can be overwhelming to navigate your way through the world of greens. Plus, you may find you need a culinary degree to prepare them just right! Below, we break down some of our favorite greens and offer tips on how to maximize your enjoyment. Challenge yourself to make greens a key part of most meals.
Our Go-To Greens
Kale – A member of the cabbage family, this leafy green is rich in vitamins E, K, C and phosphorus and potassium.
Buying and cooking tips: With its recent addition to the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen list, try and purchase organically grown varieties whenever possible. Remove the stems and central veins and enjoy chopped raw into salads, steamed, sautéed or baked in the oven to make “chips.”
Arugula – This versatile green has a nice peppery flavor and is loaded with vitamins A, C and K and important minerals, such as iron, calcium and zinc. Buying and cooking tips: Arugula is an easy to grow salad green, making it a good home garden choice. Arugula needs very little cooking, making it an easy addition to meals. Toss into soups, pastas, salads, or on pizza and sandwiches.
Sorrel – A fruity green with a tart and tangy flavor. It’s commonly used in soups and stews and has been used to aid in digestion and treat liver problems.
Buying and cooking tips: Sold in bunches like other greens, look for crisp leaves with an even green hue. Cooking wanes sorrel’s tartness and is the perfect compliment to chicken or fish.
Bok Choy – Also known as white cabbage, this crunchy green is high in vitamins A andC, potassium and beta-carotene.
Buying and cooking tips: Store unwashed bok choy in the crisper section of your refrigerator in a perforated bag or salad spinner and use within a few days. Wash it well since dirt can hide in the stalk. For a crunchy texture cook for just a brief period of time, but when cooked for a longer period of time, a nice creamy texture will form.
Broccoli Rabe – This green may have an intense bite to it, but did you know that the fresher it is, the less bitter it will taste? A staple in southern Italian cuisine, it’s a great source of fiber and heart healthy folate.
Buying and cooking tips: When buying, look for a deep, rich green color all over and store unwashed in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic. To reduce the bitterness, try blanching it before cooking. It’s delicious sautéed in olive oil, roasted until crisp, or even pureed into a pesto.
Swiss Chard – This leafy green lies in between kale and spinach in terms of sturdiness and texture. Its dark leaves are delicious and nutritious and its ribs offer up great flavor and crunch. While it boasts a lot of color and nutrition (iron, calcium, vitamin K, zinc…just to name a few), it’s mellow in flavor.
Buying and cooking tips: Look for chard with deep green leaves and firm stems and store in the crisper wrapped loosely in a damp paper towel. It cooks quickly and is delicious sautéed, braised or eaten raw.
Buying and cooking tips: Arugula is an easy to grow salad green, making it a good home garden choice. Arugula needs very little cooking, making it an easy addition to meals. Toss into soups, pastas, salads, or on pizza and sandwiches.
Mustard Greens – These greens get their name from the mustard taste they bestow. With their sharp flavor, they’re one of the more versatile greens since they can be eaten raw, dried or cooked.
Buying and cooking tips: Select mustard greens that are plump and crisp and have a rich green color. Store in a tightly sealed plastic bag in the crisper. Mustard greens are mostly water so they will shrink when cooked, similar to spinach.
Mache – Also called corn lettuce and lamb’s lettuce, this sweet and nutty flavored green is a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium, copper and iron.
Buying and cooking tips: A great salad green on its own or mixed with other greens. It can also be steamed and served as a side dish. Look for crisp, bright green leaves and wash just before serving.
Dandelion Greens – The greens most often used medicinally, they are thought to support liver function, digestive health, and a healthy blood supply. Loaded with all of the good-for-you nutrients found in dark leafy greens, plus you’ll get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
Buying and cooking tips: The intense and bitter flavor when eaten raw, mellows when cooked. Look for firm leaves with thin stems. Rinse in cool water, dry thoroughly and store in an open plastic bag. Sauté with olive oil, lemon and garlic, boil for tea, or enjoy raw in a fresh salad.
Where to Find Them
Farmers’ Markets are a great place to shop for greens. With over 40 types of greens available, your local farmers’ market is sure to have a wide selection year-round. Purchasing produce from a farmers’ market is also a nice way to support local farmers and eating locally can be beneficial to both the consumer and the environment. Bring compostable or reusable bags with you to the market, then once home, store greens in a container (a salad spinner is ideal) or wrap them in moist towels and keep them in the crisper.
Plant a Garden. The freshest and most convenient way to get your greens is to grow them right at home. Try planting a variety of different green seeds during early spring or late summer in full, but not direct sun. Harvest just the amount you plan to eat, unless the plants grow so large and begin to touch, then harvest enough to make room. Most greens grown best during the cooler months so harvest them before the heat of the summer hits.
1 large bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves torn into pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Position racks in upper third and center of oven; preheat to 400°F. If
kale is wet, very thoroughly pat dry with a clean kitchen towel;
transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle the kale with oil and sprinkle with salt.
Using your hands, massage the oil and salt onto the kale leaves to
evenly coat. Fill 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a layer of kale,
making sure the leaves don’t overlap. (If the kale won’t all fit, make the
chips in batches.) Bake until most leaves are crisp, switching the pans
back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 12 minutes
total. (If baking a batch on just one sheet, start checking after 8
minutes to prevent burning.)
MANGO KALE SMOOTHIE
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 bag frozen mango chunks
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup apple juice
2 leaves kale
Peel and chop ginger. Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend and
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