What’s in Season?  Dark Leafy Greens!

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dark green leafy KaleWith the start of early Spring, the growing season begins. Many of us are trying to eat healthier and also support the local economy by buying our foods from local producers. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collards have started to be available. The cooler temperatures contribute to the greens having a sweeter flavor. In the hotter months, the greens need to be cooked longer to breakdown the carbohydrates (sugars) since they are less tender. They are great way to get low calorie, tasty, and nutrient-packed foods into your diet.

Leafy greens are high in Vitamin K which is a natural blood thinner. If you are taking blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin), you need to keep your leafy greens intake consistent in order for the medicines to work correctly. If they are one of your favorite foods discuss keeping them in your diet with your doctor. They are also high in many of the phytonutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthinn and health-promoting sulfur compounds. Collard greens are very high in calcium and it is believed that even though high in oxalates, the calcium is well absorbed.

Store your greens in the refrigerator and the colder temperature will decrease the respiration rate and help them stay fresh and decrease the loss of nutrients. Most of your greens need to be used within three to five days. Once they start turning yellow they have loss much of their flavor and nutrients. Do not wash your greens before storing because the washing can destroy protective layers of the greens and they will spoil faster. You do want to wash before using, so follow these tips.

  • If leafy greens are not labeled as “pre-washed” or “ready-to-eat,” thoroughly wash them under running water just before chopping, cooking or eating. This will help reduce the presence of microorganisms.
  • If greens are not easily handled in water due to size or being loose, immerse the leaves in a large clean bowl or a salad spinner filled with cold water. Toss them around in the water for 30 seconds or more. Drain and repeat twice.

Another tasty way to get your greens is to roast them. Try this recipe from Med Instead of Meds, Kale Chips, or take a look at the N.C. A&T State University video, NC 10%:  Dorm Room Recipe.