Flavor Exploration: Greens

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Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right this Nutrition Month with bold and exciting new flavors. You'll never  guess what we've got on the menu for today!

Kale LeafBut wait! Before we begin -- did you miss a post? So far we've covered 5 amazing ways to healthfully boost flavor...

Today's post features greens -- what they are, when to use them, how they add flavor, and why they're good for your health. There's even a free recipe handout to help your clients explore the rich flavor of greens right away!

Today's Featured Flavor: Greens

_FHC5219-3There are tons of greens in the market today, but most people still aren't eating enough of them. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise people to "Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green […] vegetables."

There are tons of amazing greens out there -- which ones will be your next favorite?

  • Mustard greens and arugula are spicy -- a little bit goes a long way in salads or soups.
  • Spinach is very mellow and is delicious either raw or cooked.
  • Kale, collard greens, and chard are tougher than other greens, which makes them tastier when cooked, though there are ways to make them delicious when raw too. We especially like them in stews and braises.
  • Lettuces like Bibb, Romaine, and butter lettuce are all wonderful in salads. Generally they taste better raw than cooked.

There are tons of different ways to buy your greens. Our favorite approach is to pick up pre-washed raw greens from the produce section. That gives us the flexibility to serve them either raw or cooked throughout the week. You can also get unwashed greens and clean them up yourself at home. Frozen spinach with no added sodium is a good alternative to fresh greens when you need a freezer staple or two, and greens featured in no-salt-added stir-fry mixes are always welcome at our table. You can even get dehydrated and flavored kale chips for a healthful snack on the run. The possibilities are endless!

Greens and Your Health:

But why should you pick up a container or two of fresh greens? Well, the long and short of it is that they're good for your health.

_FHC5148-3Dark leafy greens rock the vitamin count, with excellent supplies of vitamins A, C, and K. These vitamins protect your bones, decrease inflammation, support cell growth and development, protect vision, support your circulatory system, and improve immune function. Some greens are also good sources of vitamin E, which protects your cells from free radical damage while boosting your immune system.

Furthermore, dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of folate, which is key for several vital functions in the body. It's especially important during early pregnancy. According to the National Institutes of Health, "Due to its role in the synthesis of DNA and other critical cell components, folate is especially important during phases of rapid cell growth." Unfortunately, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has found that "many women capable of becoming pregnant still do not meet the recommended intake for folic acid." Don't be one of those people!

But wait, there's more!

The Agricultural Research Service asserts that "Because of their high content of antioxidants, green leafy vegetables may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods. Studies have shown that eating 2 to 3 servings of green leafy vegetables per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast and skin cancer. These same antioxidants have also been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease."

_FHC5223-3There's simply no stopping the health benefits of leafy greens!

Greens as Flavor Boosters:

Greens are as versatile as they are healthful. There's simply a ton of ways to eat them.

When it comes to salads, we love a mix of raw greens, whether they're crunchy Romaine or peppery arugula. Try mixing a few different types of greens for side salads and see which ones are your favorite.

Stemming and steaming collard greens and chard is a quick and simple way to soften their tasty leaves into a fun side dish. Top the steamed greens with a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of salt or grated Parmesan.

Of course, there's lots to be said for sautéing too. Spinach is super tasty when cooked with sliced garlic in just a teaspoon of olive oil.

Have you made kale chips? Slice some kale leaves into bite-size pieces and toss them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper before spreading them on a baking sheet and roasting them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes, until they're nice and crispy.

We could keep going, but we don't want to keep you here all day. How will you add greens to your diet? If you're looking for more inspiration, check out our recipe database, with over 1,000 free recipes that you can try. Some of our very favorite recipes with greens include...

There are tons of other amazing resources in the Nutrition Education Store. Some of our favorite nutrition and health educational materials are featured below...

Your scrolling has not been in vain! Here is a free handout that you can give to your clients for Nutrition Month. Get your copy of Make Friends with Kale today!

How will you use leafy greens?

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