Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fabulous Fall Greens


We’ve braved the summer heat and as we bid farewell to one season it’s on to colorful foliage, crisp fall weather, football, and fabulous greens. All alliteration aside, as fall approaches so does a new set of fall crops including broccoli, cabbage, and most importantly all the greens. Here are some great facts about some of our favorite greens:

Kale has previously been used and seen as a decoration piece, providing a bed for shrimp cocktail and deli spreads. However, it’s made quite the comeback as a nutritious superhero packing a long list of nutrients and health benefits. Kale is rich in vitamin A and C, the minerals calcium and iron as well as numerous other phytochemicals (healthful chemicals found in plants). Kale is versatile and can be prepared in many different ways for endless meal ideas. You can simply steam or sauté and top with lemon or oil/vinegar dressing, or add to pasta with vegetables or even your morning omelet.





Spinach is available year round at your local grocery store but take advantage of grabbing it in season from your local farmers for the best flavor and experience. Spinach is a dueling superhero green due to its similarly packed nutrition punch. Spinach contains vitamin A and K, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and a long list of other vitamins and minerals. It’s just as versatile too. From salads, to smoothies; spinach can even be steamed in the microwave and added to rice or casseroles.



There are so many leafy greens to grow, buy and consume including turnip greens, collards, mustard greens, swiss chard and dark salad greens.  Though each leafy green is unique in its nutritive qualities they all are rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, folate (a B vitamin), fiber and various phytochemicals including lutein and zeaxanthine (these two phytochemicals are really good for eye health). In fact, according to the University of Georgia Department of Food and Nutrition, leafy greens are known to provide these health benefits:

1.      Helps maintain healthy eyes and vision.
2.      Helps keep immune system healthy to fight infections.
3.      Helps reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
4.      Helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
5.      Helps reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
6.      Helps keep bones and teeth strong, along with diet and enough calcium and vitamin D.

They may not always be crowd favorites but with winning nutrition and countless recipe options, it’s hard to deny the highlight of fall vegetables. When buying from a local farmer be sure to rinse and clean your greens well and remember to always eat your greens! 

Here are some recipes for you to try:
Greens and Beans (UMD’s Eat Smart MD website)
Servings: 6

Ingredients: 
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 (15.5-ounce) cans of white beans, rinsed and drained
6 cups fresh greens: spinach, Swiss chard, or kale, washed
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley or 1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: 
  1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
  4. Add beans and parsley, cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in greens and cook just until wilted.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
*Click on link in references section for nutrient information of recipe.
Seared Greens (USDA Mixing Bowl):
Ingredients
8 cups kale or collard greens (1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or olive oil)
garlic clove (chopped)
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vinegar, cider
Directions
1. Clean the greens thoroughly and cut stems away. Dry well and tear into salad pieces or slice across leaf into 1/2 inch pieces.
2. In a large deep pot or skillet with a cover, sauté garlic in oil. Add greens in pan with 1 cup water.
3. Cover pan and steam for 4 minutes.
4. Uncover, stir constantly until greens shrink. Add salt and pepper and continue to stir on high until mixture is thoroughly wet.
5. Sprinkle cider vinegar on mixture. Cover.
6. Turn off heat. Let stand until ready to serve.

This post is a collaborative project of Lisa Gonzalez, FCS Extension Agent and Kimberley Zisman, Dietetic Intern.

References:
Eat Smart MD. (2015). Greens and Beans. http://eatsmart.umd.edu/recipe/greens-beans

University of George Department of Food and Nutrition. (2003). Leafy Greens.

USDA Mixing Bowl (2015). Seared Greens.

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