Leafy greens are at the top of the charts in vitamins A, C and K, potassium and fiber with only 5 to 40 calories per cup. Cleaning is essential, so wash the greens in several changes of cool water to eliminate dirt. Fresh leafy greens will keep in the refrigerator crisper for three to five days. For extended storage, hardier greens can be blanched and frozen. Cooking greens will concentrate many of the vitamins and minerals and can help lessen bitter flavors. Water-soluble nutrients such as vitamin C can be lost if the greens are cooked for too long or if the broth is discarded.
Kale: Popular in northern Europe and now throughout the U.S., kale is a nutrient-dense cruciferous vegetable. It’s an excellent source of lutein and vitamins A, C and K, and a good source of calcium. Choose kale with dark green, small to medium-sized leaves free of any yellowing. Enjoy kale raw, braised, sautéed or in soup.
Spinach: A natural hydrator, raw spinach is 91 percent water. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, folate, potassium and fiber. Because of its high water content, cooked spinach is significantly higher in these nutrients. Enjoy spinach raw in salad or sandwiches or cooked in soups, stews and side dishes.
Romaine: One of the five lettuce types, romaine is a good source of folate and vitamin K. Tear (don’t cut) leaves to avoid the release of ascorbic acid oxidase, which destroys vitamin C. Best eaten raw, romaine is a perfect crunchy and refreshing salad base, sandwich topper or wrap.
Cabbage: The humble green cabbage is a fiber-rich cruciferous vegetable and excellent source of vitamins C and K. Eating cabbage regularly may help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Enjoy cabbage raw in slaw, steamed, stuffed or tossed into soup. Prevent the release of its smelly sulfuric compounds by cooking cabbage quickly.
Enjoy one of these leafy greens today!