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Cooking with Spring Greens by Donna Douglass

Do you want to have more energy, look great and feel really good? Then you need some greens in your life. Most people overlook these beautiful plants because they are not aware of how easy they are too prepare and that they are a delicious powerhouse of nutrition.

What are the Benefits of Greens?

These dark leafy greens are full of micronutrients called phytochemicals and protect against cancer and many other diseases. Most of these leafy greens contain vitamin A, C, E and K and are a great source of calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus and zinc. They are high in fiber, folic acid and dozens of trace minerals and nutrients. They help with vision, bone, skin and cell health, boost the immune system and can help improve cardiovascular, liver and kidney function. They give you energy and can help fight depression.

Selecting the Healthiest Greens

Look for organic or locally grown greens that were cultivated without the use of pesticides. When selecting your greens, look for fresh perky leaves with no discolor or holes in them.

Example of Greens

Arugula– Very peppery, mustard, pungent and nutty taste. Perfect to perk up salads, soups and stews.

Beet Greens–A better sources of vitamins and minerals than beets themselves with more vitamin c, calcium and iron. Great addition to soups and stews.

Baby Bok Choy–Wonderful in Asian dishes, stir fries, soups and salads.

Swiss Chard–Mild and earthy. Best prepared by slicing down one side of their stalk and slicing up the leaves and tossing the stems. Varieties include Swiss chard, rhubarb chard and rainbow chard.

Escarole– Goes well with beans for side dishes, soups and stews. Can be served raw in salads.

Kale–King of calcium and one of the healthiest foods to eat. Tastes delicious in soups, stir fries and even grilled. Different varieties include Red Russian which is purple and Toscano Kale which has dark blue green leaves.

Collards–Nutritionally these are a goldmine. Great with hot pepper, ginger, curry, vinegar and bacon. Perfect for soups and stews.

General Guidelines and Cooking Tips

• To get the most nutrients out of them, eat them right away or soak them in water to keep fresh prior to cooking the same day

• Greens taste best with a little help from a good olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, leeks, lemon, sesame seeds, olives or raisins or even parmesan cheese

• Tender greens such as spinach, chard and beet greens can be sautéed with garlic and olive oil • Can be served spicy or sour

• Great with potatoes, pasta, beans and rice

• Nuts and seeds can add some crunch to greens

• Best to sauté, stir fry, quick boil or even grill. Do not steam greens as that will make them bitter and grayish– green in color

• Strong flavor greens such as kale, collards, turnips and mustard greens are best cooked in shallow water to reduce bitterness and increase tenderness. They can then be sautéed.

• Drink the cooking water, full of vitamins and minerals, or cool it and add it to a smoothie

• Think about how you can add greens to the foods you already eat. Add them when you make pizza, pasta, soups, stews, frittatas or rice or place a baked or grill piece of fish on top of sautéed greens.

Information from Greens Glorious Greens Cookbook

Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts Recipe

Serves 4

• 2 Bunch of red Swiss chard

• Olive oil

• 2–4 garlic cloves, minced

• Pine nuts (optional)

• Handful of raisins

• Crushed red pepper to taste

• Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Take each Swiss chard leaf and run a knife down one side of the stalk and then the other side.

Roll up leaves like a cigar and cut slices into it.

Put in a bowl of fresh water and make sure all dirt is off then drain in a colander.

In a medium sauté pan add some minced garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook until lightly golden over medium heat. Add pine nuts and raisins. Add washed Swiss chard. Use tongs to turn chard until wilted. Add a little water and cook for about 5–10 minutes. Taste the greens and add salt and pepper to taste.

Donna Douglass, owner of What’s Cooking, a culinary and wellness education company, helps busy people and those who need special diets. She offers various health coaching services that include meal preparation and cooking and nutrition education. For more information on her Signature Health Programs and to schedule your complimentary phone session visit or call 548–6520.

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