There is no good translation for “Lebensmittel” which is the German word for food. It really means “things that are alive” or better “things you need to stay alive”, which brings me to this week’s post which is all about what to do with all the dark leafy greens you find at farmer’s markets and which make up the bulk of your CSA box during this time of year. Even the most creative of us cooks might run out of ideas on just what to do with all that chlorophyl in our fridge. Be they raw, steamed, boiled or roasted, here are our reasons why we make sure these healthy vegetables are featured prominently in our diet, so go on and pick up a bunch of fresh wintery greens on your next grocery shopping trip. Come and cook with us!
I know this might sound a little cheesy, but eating wintery greens is like eating sunshine because through the plant’s photosynthesis process, leafy greens convert the light energy captured from the sun into chemical energy that can be used to fuel our bodies. And only green leaves can do this, so when you eat your greens, you are literally eating sunshine in the form of chlorophyl. What better way to fuel your body in a balanced and natural way.
Whether kale, spinach, collard greens, tatsoi, chard or escarole, these vegetable superfoods are packed with vitamins (e.g., K, A, C), minerals (e.g., manganese, potassium, calcium, folate) and antioxidant photo-nutrients (e.g., glucosinolates). It’s best to select greens that are unblemished, crisp and deep green in color and to store them separated from their roots in a plastic bag. Use them soon as they tend to get wilty and will lose their nutritional punch over time.
Luckily the number of ways to add greens to your diet is limitless. Here are the top 10 ways that help us get greens on the table:
- Shred kale and toss into a delicious salad
- Add a few kale leaves to your morning smoothie and freshly squeezed juice
- Sauté mixed greens and serve on warm quinoa tossed with a refreshing lemon vinaigrette
- Cook the escarole or tatsoi into a delicious white bean soup
- Bake kale into crispy chips (eating them is messy but well worth the time to clean)
- Enrich your minestrone vegetable soup with plenty of greens
- Steam chard and serve with basic vinaigrette
- Prepare turnip greens Southern style by serving them with beans and rice
- Mix in greens to spinach when you make spinach lasagna, pasta or risotto
- Use any left-over greens at the end of the week by boiling them into a nutritional broth and either using them for other dishes or drinking as is.
One important thing is that as greens have gone more main-stream, production processes have become more complex and many of these greens (including kale, collard greens, spinach and even lettuce) have been included in the “Dirty Dozen Plus” list by the Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. So try to find the organic kind or give them a really good wash, ideally with some vinegar as many of the pesticides are not water-soluble.
Dark leafy greens have become such a mainstay in our diet that we have written about these nutritional powerhouses before, so you are welcome to read up if you are looking for more inspiration (April 2012). We hope these ideas will keep you entertained a little longer or at least until the first tender spears of asparagus begin showing up. Come and cook with us!