Going Green is Delicious and Nutritious

As temperatures start to cool, crops like spinach, lettuce, kale, and chard will be abundant at farmers markets. 

With all of these choices, it’s easy to eat green.


Nature's superfoods

Dark, leafy greens are one of nature’s “superfoods,” packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber.  Says EvergreenHealth nutritionist Marcy Dorsey, “Leafy greens are like a multivitamin on your plate!” 

For example, one cup of raw kale provides all of this - for a mere 33 calories:

  • 206% of your RDA for vitamin A
  • 134% of your RDA for vitamin C
  • 684% of your RDA for vitamin K
  • omega-3
  • omega-6 fatty acids

Greens cook down significantly, so their nutrition becomes even more concentrated for a one-cup serving of cooked greens. 

The darker a green, the more nutritious it is. 

For example, romaine lettuce has 8 times as much vitamin A and 6 times as much vitamin C as iceberg.


Vitamin K

Vitamin K alone affects many areas of our health. Vitamin K helps your body make proteins that are essential for blood clotting.  Vitamin K also helps to maintain your bone density. 

Studies have shown that it may help lower the risk of diabetes and certain types of cancer.  

Vitamin K is fat-soluble, so it is best to serve greens raw with dressing or cooked in a little oil.

The USDA recommends consuming three cups of dark green vegetables per week.

Marcy recommends trying greens many times and many different ways to find what you like. “Sometimes you need to try a new food 10 to 20 times before it becomes familiar,” she says. 

And you may find you like a green prepared multiple ways.  “I like kale in salads, sautéed in a little olive oil and garlic, and as kale chips.  I can’t get enough kale!”


Get clever with greens

If you don’t like to eat your greens by themselves, Marcy suggests trying to include them in other ways:  

  • chopped kale adds color to soups
  • romaine and watercress add flavor to sandwiches
  • spinach pairs well with pasta and tomatoes
  • adding spinach, kale, or chard to a fruit smoothie makes it a superfood smoothie.
  • add pureed cooked greens to sauces or desserts

If you are concerned about the green color, try adding blueberries or blackberries to mask the color and keep the greens a secret.  

The National Leafy Greens Council offers these tips for preparing greens:

  • Greens cook down significantly, to around three-fourths of their original volume, so gather or purchase enough for your recipe. 
  • Wash greens thoroughly in a bath of tepid water to remove grit. 
  • Remove stems if necessary. 
  • Dry salad greens in a salad spinner or with paper towels. 
  • Salad greens such as lettuces, arugula, watercress and spinach can be eaten raw. 
  • Mild greens including spinach, kale and chard can be steamed or sautéed slightly until tender. 
  • Stronger greens such as collard or mustard greens are better if cooked longer in broth or blanched and used in soups. 

Most greens are easy to grow at home. They can add color to your landscaping or grow well in planters or window boxes.  


Recipes

Kale Chips

Massaged Kale Salad

Swiss Chard and Rice Soup

Triple Chocolate Surprise Brownies


Want More Healthiest Best Food Ideas?

Visit our Healthiest Best Foods homepage for more great ideas to get you and your family eating healthier.