Why We Should All Be Eating More Leafy Greens And 20 Ways To Cook Them. Hot

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Leafy greens are one of the most nutritious, inexpensive and easy to cook real foods! They're also very tasty and one of the simpler things to cook. Leafy greens are available for a large part of the year in one form or another and are usually available at most farmers markets for great prices.

Below you find some great recipes, tips and nutritional facts for leafy greens!

The Quick Lowdown

  • NUTRITIOUS- Lots of nutrients in just one serving! Vitamins, essential minerals, fiber and much more.
  • VERSATILE- Easy to add to lots of different recipes. Like smoothies for breakfast, salad at lunch, sauteed at dinner.
  • DETOX- High levels detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, and cancer fighting compounds

Leafy Greens Nutritional Facts

Not many foods can compare to the high nutritional value of leafy greens. Researchers are finding that eating your greens may be even more important than previously imagined. In putting together this article I found lots of quotes that stated "it was common for our ancient ancestors to eat up to six pounds of leaves per day". I could not find a accredited source for the quote but I can see that it makes sense. Recent research shows that a gene that is essential for producing critical immune cells in your gut, responds to the food you eat—specifically leafy green vegetables (Dr. Mercola).

We now know that these greens contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds. Researchers also believe that these vegetables play an important role in controlling food allergies, inflammatory diseases and obesity, and may even prevent the development of bowel cancers (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute).

Here's a nutritional breakdown of the top readily available leafy greens:

Kale

  • Excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K
  • High in Calcium (for a vegetable)
  • Also supplies Folate and Potassium

Collard Greens

  • Excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K
  • Good source of Folate, Manganese, and Calcium
  • Cancer preventatvive glucosinolates (glucoraphanin, sinigrin, gluconasturtiian, and glucotropaeolin)
  • Similar in nutrition to Kale but more chewy with a stronger taste

Swiss Chard

  • Excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K
  • Good source of Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Iron and Vitamin E
  • At least 13 different Polyphenol Antioxidants, including Kaempferol and Syringic Acid
  • Unique source of Phytonutrients called Betalains (provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support)

Turnip Greens

  • Excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K
  • Good source of Folate, Manganese, Calcium, Copper, Vitamin E and Vitamin B6
  • Bitter taste linked to high Calcium (4x more than cabbage, 2x more than mustard greens)
  • High glucosinolate content (phytonutrients with cancer-preventing properties)

Spinach

  • Excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K
  • Good source of Manganese, Folate, Iron, Vitamins C, B2, B6 and E
  • Showed evidence of significant protection against the occurrence of aggressive prostate cancer.
  • Glycoglycerolipids help protect the lining of the digestive tract from damage — especially damage related to unwanted inflammation.

Beet Greens

  • Excellent source of vitamins A, C, E and K
  • Good source of Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Zinc, Vitamins B6
  • Valuable source of Lutein/Zeaxanthin (good for eye health)

How to Choose Leafy Greens

When choosing your greens, the number one rule is to look for leaves that are crisp. You want to hear a slight snap when you crack the stems. If they are wilted, soggy, or slimy, keep looking. Ideally, they have been stored in a cool place but watch out for greens stored in ice. Greens are loaded with water. Ice can crystallize the water and the greens may end up mushy by the time you get them home.

The leaves should smell fresh and, well, really green!

Color is also important. If you have a choice, pick the darkest leaves. Don't worry about a few brown spots, that's perfectly normal, especially at the farmers markets. However, if the edges are consistently brown throughout all the leaves you may want to pass.

Last but not least, is smell. The leaves should smell fresh and, well, really green!

NOTE: Non-organic greens can be very high in pesticides. This is one of those items that are definitely worth buying organic. I'm assuming that because you are an eatlocalgrown.com reader, you know how important it is to buy from a local grower when possible. Make sure your growers are practicing sustainable farming practices and not using heavy chemical pesticides and herbicides. If buying from a local is not an option, then make sure to choose organically-certified greens at the grocery store. (read more about Local vs Organic)

How to Cook Leafy Greens

A lot of people (me included) love the taste of bitter greens. I especially like to pair them as a side dish with a rich, fatty main course like a grass-fed rib eye, or a hearty lamb stew. The bitter greens cut through the fattiness of the main course and bring a nice balance to the plate. But there's also many ways to temper the bitterness of leafy greens by adding golden raisins for sweetness or some toasted pine nuts or sesame seeds for richness. This can completely transform the dish and if you get creative you'll find something that even the pickiest of eaters will love.

there's many ways to temper the bitterness of leafy greens

On the more sturdy greens like Kale and Collards you'll probably want to remove the leaves for the stalks. I do this for Swiss Chard as well. You can cut the stalks away or just rip the leaves off. The stalks can be used for stocks, or in the case of Swiss Chard I just cut them up into bite size pieces and saute them for about 5 minutes to make them tender before adding the greens to the pan.

LEAFY GREEN RECIPES

Here's a great collection of recipes that we found at eatingwell.com-

Beet Greens Recipes

Sometimes beets in the market have beautiful, unblemished,...
The entire beet plant—roots, stems and greens—can be used...
This root vegetable stew is flecked with sausage and topped...

Chard Recipes

Acorn squash’s natural shape makes it just right for...
Fragrant lemon zest, briny olives and salty feta balance...
Tangy green olives, sweet currants and creamy goat cheese...
In this one-skillet supper, we toss dark leafy greens,...

Collard Greens Recipes

Antioxidant-rich collard greens and fiber-packed black-eyed...
Here we’ve combined two favorite Southern side dishes—grits...
Jamaican pepperpot soup is usually a long-simmered...
This homey pasta dish uses pancetta (Italian bacon) in the...

Kale Recipes

This boldly flavored spin on Hoppin' John replaces...
A stunning main course for the holidays, this ginger-...
Serve as a side with a steak or pork chops or set a poached...
Kale is matched up here with white beans and chunks of lean...
Kale becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender in this recipe....

Spinach Recipes

EatingWell's updated version of creamed spinach has a...
Like many spinach salads, this one features lots of chopped...
This take on the classic bacon-wrapped appetizer uses...
Restaurants all over Singapore have chile crab on their...
Frilly layers of phyllo dough surround the festive spinach...

 

Do you have more Recipes?

Got Grandms'a favorite recipe stashed away somewhere? Did you come up with something brilliant while experimenting? Found a way to get your kids to eat Kale? Please use the comment section at the bottom of the page to contribute to this list!

 

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