Many of us already know how good green vegetables are for our health, but sometimes it's hard to incorporate them into our daily diet except in the form of a green salad, and often that's made of iceberg lettuce which is hardly green at all.
Leafy greens are highly nutritious and low in calories. The World's Healthiest Foods site (www.whfoods.com) puts collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, swiss chard and turnip greens on its list of healthiest foods. Depending on the green, they can be high in calcium, iron, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and K among others. (www.whfoods.com gives a complete list. ) Usually, the darker the green, the more nutrients it contains. Leafy greens are also a good source of fiber.
So, what to do with them? Well here's a few of my favorite easy suggestions:
* For collard greens or kale-Wash, remove stems, and coarsely chop a bunch of greens. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a frying pan, sauté the greens for a minute or so, then add a small amount of butter and finely chopped garlic (the butter should keep the garlic from burning). Lightly salt, and keep cooking & stirring over a low heat until the greens are tender but not overcooked. (I prefer my greens still slightly crunchy, so I don't cook them long-for me if they're dark green and mushy, they're way overcooked. ) I like to serve these as a side to beans and rice. You can put them right in the same bowl.
* Another idea for kale-Kale can easily be added to lots of different meals without anyone knowing. (Helpful if you're cooking for picky eaters. ) Wash and dry a bunch of kale, remove stems, and then chop it up finely in your food processor (do not puree!). Put desired amounts in Ziplock bags ( I put in about a cup of chopped kale per bag), and then put them in the freezer. You can then add the chopped kale to chili, soup, stir fry or spaghetti sauce while cooking-and none of the picky eaters has to know what it is. I even add small amounts to macaroni and cheese.
* Swiss chard-Okay, if you're worried about fat, then this is not the recipe for you. Because of the high fat content, this is a recipe I only do about once a month, but it's always a hit. This is my version of Cheesy Chard.
* Ingredients: 1 cup uncooked brown rice, 1 full bunch of swiss chard, 1 large onion, olive oil, 2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper, 1 package of sharp cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
1. Cook 1 cup of long grain brown rice according to the directions on the package. (Don't use white rice for this recipe because it's too light and sticky. )
2. During the last 20 minutes that the rice is cooking, chop the onion and sauté it in a large frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook until the onions start to get soft.
3. While the onion cooks, wash the chard, remove the stems and coarsely chop. When the onion is soft, add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and add the chard. Lightly salt. Stir, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the chard just wilts (this should not take more than 3 to 5 minutes).
4. Remove pan cover and layer some cheddar cheese over the chard. How much? This depends on your tastes. I use about 1/2 a small brick (maybe 4 oz) of cheddar cheese.
5. Cover the cheddar cheese with the hot brown rice and wait only a minute for the cheese to melt. Then mix the chard, cheese and rice thoroughly.
6. Salt and pepper to taste.
7. If you want more flavor, either add the Parmesan cheese or add even more cheddar cheese. For more vegetables, you can also add chopped carrots or some garlic while the chard is cooking.
As I said up front, this is not a low fat recipe. I serve it with warm French bread drizzled with olive oil, and that's the whole meal.
So those are a few ways to add non-lettuce leafy greens to your diet, and there are many more. Some good recipes can be found in Great Greens: Fresh, Flavorful, and Innovative Recipes by Georgeanne Brennan. The U. S. government now recommends eating at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day for the average person, and it gets pretty boring if all you eat is broccoli, carrots, and lettuce. Add some leafy greens to your diet for more variety and better nutrition.
Judy Braley is an author, an attorney, and a parent of two. Her personal development blog with free articles and information on inspiration for your life can be found at GrowFromWithin.com .
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