Between our CSA box and the farmer’s market, we’ve been enjoying a lot of fresh kale, cabbage, broccoli and romaine lettuces this spring. We try to eat a meal including greens at least once a day.
This is one of my favorite recipes for kale—which I don’t ordinarily enjoy eating, but this recipe makes it delicious.
Leafy Green Nutrition
Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins.
They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other benefits. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.
Perhaps the star of these nutrients is Vitamin K. A cup of most cooked greens provides at least nine times the minimum recommended intake of Vitamin K, and even a bowl of dark, leafy salad greens usually provides the minimum all on their own.
Recent research has provided evidence that Vitamin K may be even more important than we once thought (the current minimum may not be optimal), and many people do not get enough of it.
- Regulates blood clotting;
- Helps protect bones from osteoporosis;
- May help prevent and possibly even reduce atherosclerosis by reducing calcium in arterial plaques;
- May be a key regulator of inflammation, and may help protect us from inflammatory diseases including arthritis; and
- May help prevent diabetes.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so make sure to put dressing on your salad, or cook your greens with coconut oil, avocado oil, butter or other fat.
Greens have very little carbohydrate in them, and the carbs that are there are packed in layers of fiber, which make them very slow to digest. That is why, in general, greens have very little impact on blood glucose.
Selection and Storage of Leafy Greens
The fresher your leafy greens are, the more nutrients they contain. Within just a few days of harvest, levels of antioxidants and folate begin to plummet. So, if you can, eat your greens within four days of being harvested for maximum nutritional benefits. (This is easy to do if you are growing them!)
If you don’t garden, your best bet for fresh greens is a local farmer’s market, followed by the grocery store. Ask what day(s) they put out fresh produce, and add a recurring reminder to your calendar so you always know on what day to buy the healthiest greens.
If access to fresh produce is a challenge, reach for the frozen stuff, which retains much of the original nutritional value from the time it was frozen.
Other Leafy Green Recipes
- Garlic Pickled Greens
- Mustard Greens with Garlic Mayonnaise
- Turnip Rutabaga Salad with Watercress & Marinated Turnip Greens
Kale and Bok Choi Slaw with Spicy Sesame-Ginger Dressing
- 2 packed cups kale, cut into thin ribbons
- 2 packed cups bok choy, thinly sliced
- 1 tomato, finely diced
- 1 apple, finely diced
- 1-1/2 Tbsp. red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts, (optional)
- Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well blended.
- Place the kale in a large bowl and massage it well for a few minutes to soften. The kale should take on a “cooked” appearance and reduce dramatically in volume.
- Add the remaining salad ingredients to the kale. Then add the dressing and toss well.
- Best served within 3 hours, but it can also be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. The slaw will release some liquid when it is stored, but it will still taste good.