Say Hello to Spring With Leafy Greens March 22, 2017
You’ve heard of spring cleaning, but what about spring greening? Let the transition of the seasons be the inspiration to clean up your diet by adding more leafy greens to your plate.
It’s spring! The days get longer, we come out of hibernation, and everything that has been dormant all winter begins to emerge from the ground. As the snow melts, we say goodbye to root veggies and hello to crisp, tender, and fresh leafy greens.
Welcome the warmer days by adding a bit of the season to your plate. Leafy greens are not only delicious, but they also have some of the highest concentrations of vitamins (especially A, K, and C), minerals (like calcium, folic acid, and iron), and antioxidants to protect and heal the body. They can act as a health tonic for the brain and immune system, protect against heart disease and cancer, and even help you live longer. Eating your greens will also help you have stronger muscles, tissues, hair, and nails. Plus, their high fiber content keeps your digestive system in peak performance.
There are SO many different leafy greens to try. Here are a few of my favorites:
- 1 cup (raw): 33 calories
- Kale is the hardiest of all the leafy greens, so don’t forget to give it a massage to help break up some of the fiber and make it easier to digest.
- Did you know? Kale is sweetest after a good frost.
- 1 cup (raw): 7 calories
- Swiss chard contains an antioxidant that helps control blood sugar levels, which makes it an especially good choice for diabetics.
- Did you know? Its stems can come in striking yellows, reds, or white.
- 1 cup (raw): 7 calories
- Mix it up! While spinach is delicious when eaten raw, some of the nutrients (like calcium), can only be fully unlocked and absorbed by your body once it’s cooked.
- Did you know? In the 1930s, U.S. spinach growers credited the cartoon character Popeye with a 33% increase in spinach consumption.
- 1 cup (raw): 11 calories
- Collards have cholesterol-lowering properties that make them an excellent choice to protect your heart.
- Did you know? Based on price per edible cup, collards are the most affordable leafy greens.
- 1 cup (raw): 8 calories
- Romaine has a high water content, with as much as 16% of our daily recommended water intake. This helps to keep your skin hydrated and glowing.
- Did you know? You can regrow this leafy green! Cut the leaves about an inch from the bottom of the stem, place in a shallow dish of water near light, and watch this lettuce grow.
- 1 cup (raw): 6 calories
- Arugula contains nitrates, which help relax blood vessels and allow for better blood flow. This reduces blood pressure and can also improve athletic performance.
- Did you know? Arugula is sometimes called “rocket” because of it’s speedy, rocket-like growth.
It’s the perfect time to refresh our spirits and nourish our bodies. Now that you know all about these leafy greens, add more of them into your recipe rotation by fearlessly experimenting in the kitchen. These are my suggestions to make cooking them as easy as eating them:
Embrace salads: The quickest way to add more leafy greens into your diet is with a fresh salad. Serve the greens cold or as part of a warm grain salad like we did with this Warm Shrimp and Farro Salad with Arugula.
Lightly sauté: An acidic vinegar or a squeeze of lemon will help reduce the bitterness of leafy greens. Lightly sauté with olive oil, salt, and pepper for a delicious and easy meal like we did with this Southern comfort recipe of Shrimp and Grits with Collard Greens.
Add into soups/stews: Part of the feel-good sensation we get from eating soups comes from loading them up with veggies. Hearty, leafy greens like kale, collards, or Swiss chard make delicious additions since they can hold up to the higher temperatures and longer cook times. An all-time HelloFresh customer favorite is the classic Tuscan Ribollita with Kale.
Blend it up: Throwing a handful of leafy greens into a smoothie increases the nutritional value and gives a vibrant color boost, too. Mix greens with sweet or tart fruits, like bananas or mangos, just like we did in this Super Boosted Green Smoothie.
When I cook and eat healthy, colorful meals, I feel so good both inside and out (which is why I keep doing it again and again). Let these green beauties bring out your inner chef and inspire you with all their flavor potential. And if you follow the “eat the rainbow” mantra, check out these red-hued heart-healthy ingredients.