And your other leafy greens too. These are about the most nutritious food you can feed yourself and your family, and they are easier to prepare that you may think. Many different types are available most of the year and buying locally from an organic farm means that you’ll be eating better overall.
Most people are familiar with spinach and it is an essential supplement to the leafy green arsenal to build muscle. Thanks for the tip, Popeye. But don’t stop there. Finding as many different types of leafy greens to add to your weekly diet gives you a greater variety of vitamins and minerals.
They contain antioxidants and disease fighting elements and may play a role in controlling food allergies and inflammatory diseases.
Let’s explore a couple of the more common and available leafy greens:
Kale – an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, kale is also high in calcium.
Collard Greens – in addition to vitamins A, C, and K, it is a good source of folate, manganese and calcium.
Swiss Chard – very similar in nutrients to collard greens, Swiss Chard is sometimes easier for a novice to prepare as they don’t take quite as long to cook as collard greens.
Turnip Greens – these are exactly what they sound like. You can eat the turnip, which is the root of the plant, but you may not have realized that the turnip greens are even more nutritious than the root. There is evidence that turnip greens may protect against certain types of prostate cancer.
Beet Greens – much like the turnip, once you find a good organic source of beets, get them directly from the farmer and keep those greens. They are among the most nutritious of all leafy greens available.
How to Prepare Greens: Choose greens that are still crisp. Limp leaves indicate that they are old. Also select those that are a deep, dark green. Any bunches of greens that are lighter or are beginning to yellow have passed their prime. A few spots are fine, but an overall color change from green means you should move on.
Rinse well. Very, very well. One of the most common objections to eating greens is that people feel they taste like dirt or sand. That’s because the dirt bounces up either during irrigation or when it rains and dirt and sand do come home on the leaves. Rinse in a very large sink or tub of water, gently agitate with your fingers and then lift them out of the water. Repeat this process until there is no visible sand or dirt at the bottom of the tub.
Remove any thick stalk from the leaves with a knife. Kale and Swiss chard are the most common for this step. You can use the stalks in vegetable stock preparation. I keep a bag in the freezer just for this purpose.
Cut into one inch strips and then steam or a quick saute with olive oil and a little garlic. You’ll be amazed at how little remains of the greens once they’ve been cooked down. You’ll want to start with a lot more than you think because a two bags of spinach can cook down into just a cup or two of cooked spinach.