Spotlight on Leafy Greens

 

spinach-1511167.jpgOur health conscious members and friends are well aware of the government’s MyPlate recommendations, which include 2-3 cups per day for adults.  Dark leafy greens should make up 3 – 4 cups per week (when raw).  Studies show these greens can reduce the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

At Kellner Back Acre, we plant lots of leafy greens every year and members can receive some type nearly every week in their share.  But sometimes it’s hard to differentiate all those greens, so let’s take a closer look.

Types of greens

 

Kale:  a dark green nutrition powerhouse, which provides an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium, folate, and potassium.  The stems should be removed before consuming because of their toughness.  Kale is good raw, baked (as kale chips) or sautéed.

Collards: broad green leaves, which have a stronger taste.  They have similar nutrition as kale.  In the south, collard leaves are often used as a wrapper instead of tortillas, but it is also good slow-cooked or sautéed (after blanching to tenderize the leaves).

Swiss chard: large leaves with yellow or red stems.  This leaf provides an excellent source of A and C.  Both the stems and leaves can be consumed, though the stems obviously take a little longer to cook, so they are often separated before cooking.  Chard is excellent in quiche or sautéed.

Bok choy: a thick white stem with leafy greens.  It is also known as Chinese cabbage.  Both stems and leaves can be consumed and are often added to stir frys.

Spinach: One of the more popular greens, this provides Vitamins A & C, as well as folate.  According to WebMD.com, heating up spinach actually reduces the oxalate content, freeing up the calcium in spinach, so is more nutritious than raw spinach.  Given it’s mild flavor, spinach can be added to soup, pasta, and casseroles.

Lettuce:  Although likely the most common green consumed, it is slightly less nutritious than the other greens.  Some types of lettuce are good grilled, but often it is consumed raw.  Remember, the darker the leaf, the more nutrition it has.

Washing

All greens should be washed thoroughly before use, especially spinach and kale, which have a tendency to hold sand and dirt in their leaves.  If you have a lettuce spinner, that can work if you wash the greens several times.  Otherwise, fill a sink with water; swish the greens; drain the sink; and repeat until there is no dirt left.

Storing

The greens can last for various periods in the refrigerator:

Kale 10-14 days
Collard 4-5 days
Swiss Chard 2-3 days
Bok Choy 3-4 days
Spinach 10-14 days
Lettuce 2-3 weeks

Freezing

What happens if you get too many greens and you can’t possibly eat them before they go bad?  Consider freezing them (other than lettuce, which does not freeze well).  For all the greens mentioned above, remove the stems that you would not otherwise eat.  Blanch the greens, which means immerse in boiling water for just 1-3 minutes (depending on the heartiness of the green), then quickly put in an ice bath to stop the cooking.  Drain off the moisture and package in freezer bags.  These greens will stay 10-12 months in the freezer.

Come visit us at the Manitowoc Farmer’s Market or at our farm store to get your greens today.

Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com/Samantha Li

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