Some of the first fresh vegetables of the season are in the greens family. This spring, open up your culinary outlook to include lots of different kinds of greens. Let’s look at how these vegetables interact with your body to provide their powerhouse nutrition. All greens are a superior source of minerals as well as Vitamin A, with beta-carotene as well as Vitamin K, which aids in your natural ability to stop bleeding. Most greens are a fabulous source of calcium, good for strong bones. Especially for people who are not eating dairy, this plant based source of calcium can provide awesome benefits.
Greens are going to be fresh from gardens and all over the farmer’s markets in early spring. Wish you knew how to cook them? Take our “Go Greens” class with Betty Walberg. A little less tender, many greens need a few more minutes to cook, but only a few – you don’t want to cook away their fabulous nutrition. All greens contain calcium, a key mineral. Most people like spinach for their greens. But how does spinach compare with other greens?
Kids know that Popeye transformed into a mighty being by eating spinach. But it turns out that spinach is not taken in by your body in its full potential, especially for its key ingredient, calcium, which is not so “bioavailable”, or fully absorbed. Why? Because it has a natural ingredient called oxalate, which binds up the calcium in a package and prevents the body from using it like it could. Other greens in this family including kale, broccoli, turnip greens, collard greens and mustard greens – are “low-oxalate”, so their calcium is more “bio-available” - you get more of it in you in the same bite.
Our Food & Wine program has a strong focus on healthy eating. Eating whole foods provide your body with more nutrition per bite than taking vitamins. Many people worry that they don’t have time to cook, but greens are especially quick and easy to use. Denise Rainear from Whole Foods Markets has lots of ideas to use greens in their raw state. Denise is a vegetarian and she incorporates many ideas for using calcium rich plants in her May 30th class called “Redefining Fast Foods”. She explains how a plant based diet can offer terrific nutrient density, including how to combine plants for proteins.
Want to try a different green in a totally yummy dish? Here is an easy, tasty recipe for Maple Collard Greens, from Clark College Cooking instructor and New Seasons chef Betty Walberg.
MAPLE COLLARD GREENS
2 Tbls butter or olive oil
1 small onion, chopped in small dice
1 bunch collard greens, washed, stems removed, chopped and still damp
1 ½ Tbls real maple syrup
1 Tbls barbeque sauce
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Heat butter or oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add onions and saute’ for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
Add collards and cover pan with a lid and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add maple syrup, BAQ sauce, a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together and cook covered over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes or until greens are tender.
Makes 3-4 servings