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Guide to Eating Green

Delicious Ways to Enjoy Leafy Greens

Gone are the days when iceberg lettuce lonely ruled the produce shelves. Walk into any grocery store today and you have myriad choices when it comes to getting your green on. With high nutritional value, great taste and versatility, it’s not only important but easy to fit some green into your daily diet and onto your Thanksgiving table. Here we break down a few leafy greens you’re sure to see in the store, how you can prepare and enjoy them, and why they may be good for your health.

Arugula: This peppery green is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is important for bone health. With a strong spicy flavor, arugula is best enjoyed raw in salads or slightly wilted in whole wheat pasta dishes or atop warm flat bread pizzas such as this Figs and Green Tart. Serve this dish as a Thanksgiving appetizer.

Mustard Greens: Mustard greens have a slight bitter flavor and make a delicious side dish lightly sautéed with lemon juice and olive oil. Served cooked, mustard greens have nearly half your daily vitamin A to support vision and immunity.

Kale: A new crowd favorite, kale is a rich source of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds linked to cancer prevention. This versatile vegetable can be eaten cooked or raw—lightly massage with lemon juice and olive oil to add delicacy and sweetness for salad—or added to smoothies and green juices for a nutritional boost.

Spinach: Finally shedding its stigma, spinach is now embraced as a household staple green. Just ½ cup cooked offers about 16% of your daily vitamin B6, needed for energy metabolism and nervous system function. Add spinach to soups and stews, stir into pastas or serve sautéed with garlic alongside baked fish. Spinach’s delicate texture also lends itself well as a salad green, and is delicious slightly wilted like in our Warm Brussels Sprouts and Spinach, a perfect Thanksgiving side.

Bok Choy: Usually seen in Asian cuisines, bok choy is great for stir fry and slaw. You can also grill it to serve with salmon or shrimp. Like other cruciferous vegetables, bok choy is a source of healthful glucosinolates. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K.

Chard: Chard comes in three varieties—green (Swiss), red and rainbow—and is best when steamed, sautéed or braised. Include both the stems and the leaves for a contrast in color and texture. These sturdy leaves also make nutrition-packed wraps like in these Carrot Miso “Burritos”, which pack great in school lunchboxes. Chard is a good dietary source of phenolic antioxidants that may help protect against several chronic diseases such as cancer or heart disease.

Collard Greens: A southern staple, collard greens are typically cut into strips and braised with onions. You can also try adding them to soups or cooking them with beans like in this Collard Greens Beans and Rice dish. For a real nutritional upgrade, try steaming them: research has shown steam cooking ups this veggie’s cholesterol-lowering ability which may help lower risk of heart disease.

Published November 1, 2015

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