The Ultimate Superfood: Greens



Greens are an underrated source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, antioxidants, and protein that provide health benefits to the body.  Interestingly, it’s not just lettuce defining the term, but also a diverse family of “weeds.”  Kale, the nutrient powerhouse, also includes relatives, namely arugula, cabbage, Brussels sprout, broccoli, Mizuna, radish, collard, and turnip greens.  Each type has unique nutrients, flavors, and textures! For all the extraordinary health benefits, inside the body and out, it’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat! 

Kale

This dark green, leafy vegetable is considered one of the healthiest.  A one-cup serving provides over 100% daily value of vitamin C, over 200% of vitamin A, and almost 700% of vitamin K. In addition to adding it to salads and soups, you can find recipes for juicing, smoothies, and meals. 

  • Mini-Dessert Shake Recipe:  Place in a blender, add up to three cups of coconut milk, two cups vanilla, one cup kale leaves, up to ½ cup of avocado, two drops of peppermint extract, and liquidize.  
  • Tropical Smoothie:  Add the following to a blender and liquidize: 1½ cup coconut water or pineapple juice, one cup of frozen mango chunks, half-cup of kale leaves, and a squirt of lemon juice. 

Swiss Chard 

Available in a variety of vibrant colors, the stems include pink, yellow, and green.  One cup has only 35 calories and provides more than 300% of the daily value of potassium.    Growing to the height of 28 inches, the large leaves and thick stalks contain a lot of flavor and tenderness.  Consider adding it to a salad, a sautéed stir-fry, a quiche, or soup.  If you are a fan of the Mediterranean diet or recipes, Swiss chard is a popular ingredient to regulate blood sugar levels, improve digestion, fight cancer, and maintain brain function. 

  • Try combining Swiss chard with pasta and butternut squash or combining the leafy green with garbanzo beans and tomatoes for a satisfying side dish. 

Mustard Greens 

It is a misconception that calcium only derives from dairy products.  In addition to nuts and seeds, like almonds and chia seeds, leafy greens can offer a 10% daily value. Calcium, among other essentials, promotes safe blood pressure, heart health, and strong bones and teeth.  Since it has a strong, bitter and spicy flavor, it’s best if prepared through steaming, stir-frying, or boiling. Pickling, however, retains important plant compounds and antioxidant properties. Ever try Mizuna?  It’s a Japanese mustard green! Delicious!

  • Mustard Greens & Leek Frittata
  • Try making the following recipe for lunch.  It serves two people generously or three to four individuals as a side dish. 
  • Heat 1½ tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron pan. Add two cloves of thinly sliced garlic, one pound of mustard greens (cut leaves in half; then crosswise into strips.) Add a pinch of salt.  Sauté until the leaves appear wilted, roughly two minutes. Set oven to broil.  Wisk five eggs to a froth and pour over vegetables.  Top with crumbled goat cheese or sharp cheese.  Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until the eggs set around the edges.  Move uncovered pan to broiler and cook until eggs appear puffy and golden.  Before serving, allow the dish to remain in the pan for a few minutes.  Delicious! 

What are Microgreens? 

Who would consider arugula, celery, sunflower, or radish to be on a specialized list of “small” greens?  Imagine consuming four to 40 times more vitamins and minerals in the smaller plant version.  It’s true! Microgreens are jam-packed with nutrients. “Micro,” meaning “small,” is a young vegetable green approximately three inches tall.  The baby plant is older than a sprout and takes from one to three weeks to reach harvest. As a garnish adding color to a main dish or salad, it’s no wonder the “small plant” is a household favorite! 

The long list of benefits, which includes increasing energy, detoxification, and boosting the immune system, is an essential reason for adding greens to your diet!


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