A deliciously healthy way to honor the spring season is adding more leafy greens to your menus. Green leafy veggies include turnip, collard and mustard greens, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, bok choy and lettuces. Green leafy veggies are nutrition rock stars packing a powerhouse of vitamins K, C, E and many B vitamins such as folate as well as minerals calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Greens also contain phytonutrients, which are plant substances that provide numerous nutrition benefits including beta carotene for the heart, lutein for the eyes, and small amounts of omega 3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory.
Leafy greens have strong anti cancer substances and also preserve bones and are beneficial for the skin and healthy digestion. Traditionally, tender leafy greens were added to menus in the spring as a detox from heavier winter dishes to improve energy for more movement as the days get longer.
All these greens are low in calories, carbohydrate and sodium and high in fiber, which makes them a great choice for people who want to lose weight and help control blood sugar or blood pressure. The general recommendation is to consume a serving of greens (1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw) at least 3-4 times a week or even daily.
Leafy greens are locally available all year – in the winter staple leafy greens include collards, kale, turnip, collards and mustard greens. In the springtime all kinds of lettuces will be coming in season as well.
It’s very easy to cook leafy greens. Wash them well before any kind of prep. In the South greens are traditionally cooked for a long period with animal fat. Instead of artery clogging animal fat, try cooking with water, olive oil or low salt chicken, beef or vegetable broth. Greens are easy to steam or stir – fry. Make sure not to overcook – it only takes a few minutes to cook greens. Use any leftover broth (high in water soluble vitamins) for soups and stews Add raw greens to wraps, sandwiches, soups and omelets.
Adding leafy greens to your meals can boost nutritional intake in the spring as well as any time of year!