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Update: Last week's Try It Out Tuesday - Peppers was a great success! I got some really wonderful feedback from readers about the different ways that they try and use peppers in their everyday lives, like Audrey who said that her family basically loves peppers in everything! Personally, we ran out of peppers fairly early on in the week because we added them to so many different foods (and didn't buy any more because of trying to stick to my grocery budget) but overall I feel like we have some great suggestions on ways to use peppers in the future, and we've developed a taste for hot peppers which we didn't previously know that we liked!
This week's Try It Out Tuesday will focus in on leafy green vegetables. I picked leafy green vegetables because I went to the farmer's market in my town last weekend, and this is mostly what they had. Since I live in a colder climate, they are just now started to get the root vegetables and greens in season (can you believe the farmer's market just opened last weekend!?) I'm excited to be able to try something that is undeniably good for us, and also in season and thus cheaper too!
All About Greens
Leafy green vegetables make up a broad category, and include some real nutritional powerhouses. Greens can be used in a variety of different ways, and often times are very easily substituted for other, less nutrient dense, foods (like substituting spinach in a salad instead of iceberg lettuce, which is mostly water). Greens are definitely something you should consider buying organically grown - spinach and kale make the list of the dirty dozen most contaminated conventionally grown foods, and thedailygreen.com also groups them together as "leafy greens" and says that they are "frequently contaminated with what are considered the most potent pesticides used on foods (51 of them)." Definitely keep that in mind as you buy them, and do what you can within the budget that you have.
Dark leafy greens are, calorie for calorie, one of the most concentrated sources of vitamins and phytonutrients that you can find. They are also low in fat, high in fiber, iron, and calcium, and contain such good-for-you things as folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, lutein, and beta-carotene.
One article I read claimed that vitamin K was probably the standout nutrient of all that dark leafy greens contain. This is because the greens contain so much of it, and it can help with a variety of physical ailments. One cup of cooked greens provides up to nine times the daily amount of vitamin K that you need, and even a couple of cups of salad greens can usually provide as much as you need. Vitamin K contributes to the regulation of blood clotting, may help to prevent cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and osteoporosis, and may help to protect against inflammatory diseases.
Additionally, since leafy greens contain so much lutein and zeaxanthin, they can help to reduce the onset of eye related diseases, such as macular degeneration (the leading cause of age related blindness) and cataracts. Some studies also hint at a connection between these two carotenoids and a reduction in certain types of cancer, such as lung and breast (and other nutrients in greens also help to protect against colon, stomach, ovarian, and skin cancer), and a reduction in heart disease and strokes.
To sum it up, green leafy vegetables really don't have any drawbacks, and can help protect you against so many diseases that they are definitely worth your while to try out!
Ways to Incorporate Greens
I'm going to go out on a limb this week and really give some new greens a shot. There are so many types, ranging from the pretty common (spinach, collards) to the not-so-common (kohlrabi, bok choy).
Here are some ideas on ways to incorporate them to your diet:
- Replace salad greens with spinach or even romaine lettuce
- Add them to an omelet (are you seeing a reoccurring trend here!?)
- Chop very find (or puree in a blender) to add in things like sauces, dressings, etc.
- Chard and Feta Tart
- Collard Greens and Black Eye Pea Soup
- Kale and Potato Hash
- Creamed Spinach
- Baby Bok Choy with Cashews
- Broccoli Rabe with onions
- Mustard Greens
This will be a challenge for me, as we normally only eat spinach on a regular basis, but I am excited to dive into some new, exciting, and most of all, healthy foods! How are you going to incorporate greens into your diet, or how do you already? I would love to hear your suggestions!
This post is a member of:
Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday
Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday
I'm reading this: Try It Out Tuesday - Leafy Green VegetablesTweet this! Posted by Lauren on Tuesday, June 22, 2010