What are Those Leafy Green Things? Are They Good?

Swiss Chard and Baby Bok Choy

Maybe you have passed by them in the grocery store and wandered what to do with those leafy green things. Maybe on the way to pick up some other vegetable you didn’t notice them. No worries, most people don’t know that they are either. Greens are amazing, practically a superfood.

Salad greens are a great way to change things up. Try baby spinach, arugula, endive, micro greens (super tiny little lettuces) or mesclun the next time you make a salad. My favorite greens however are those big, bold leafy greens.  Not that I have nothing against iceberg lettuce. It’s easy to find, has a nice crunch when it’s fresh and had some fiber which most of us need more of. Here is the thing though, there are soooo many greens to experiment with that have tons of flavors, are more versatile and have far more nutrients.

Leafy greens, such as kale (my personal favorite), collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens bok choy, and cabbage are part of the Brassica or Cruciferae family and contain high amounts of vitamin A, C, and E. These powerful antioxidants help neutralize those pesky free radicals which are cancer causing molecules.  Other greens to considering adding into your diet are beet greens, broccoli rabe, Swiss chard, and dandelion greens.

As one of the most nutrient dense vegetables, greens possess high amounts of magnesium, iron and calcium. The combination of magnesium and calcium promote bone growth. We have been taught that dairy is the best place to get your calcium, however the calcium in leafy greens, is absorbed by our bodies at twice the rate as dairy products. And greens don’t have the antibiotics and hormones that most dairy products contain.

Did I mention that they are packed with fiber, phytochemicals, and much needed micro-nutrients?

Why else should you eat greens?

How about improving the immune system, reducing inflammation (this applies to everything from heart disease and high blood pressure to arthritis), improved digestion, reduce allergy symptoms, improved eye health (think less risk for cataracts) and helps remove congestion, particularly in the lungs.

What to do with these greens that are so exciting to try? Greens are flexible and can be sautéed, stir fried, or quick boiled. Consider putting them on pizza, in soups and stews, a quick veggie stir fry. I even add greens to my red sauce and of course there is the green smoothie. Add greens to almost any smoothie for an extra added boost.

With all the different varieties of greens comes a multitude of flavors ranging from mild to bitter and even a little spicy.

Still not sure where to start? Check out these recipes:

Green Smoothie

Turkey and Black Bean Soup

Shrimp and Collard Greens

Spinach and Black Bean Quesadillas

 

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