The Goodness of Greens

Updated:Nov 17,2014

greens being washed in sinkGreen leafy vegetables, known as ‘greens’ are getting attention as nutritional super-stars.

Most greens contain varied amounts of potassium to help keep a healthy blood pressure, vitamin K and calcium for strong bones, and large amounts of the antioxidant vitamin A.

Packed with belly-filling fiber, these leaves are great to heap onto your plate. But if you’ve never cooked them – or if you’ve found them tough to chew, take heart and follow these tips for cooking greens into delicious dishes.

kaleKale

  • Appearance – Ruffled, very thick, dark green leaves with very light green stems
     
  • Taste – Bold and almost bitter
     
  • Preparation – Turn leaves into tender, succulent greens by making:
    • Soup – Cut into thin ribbons and add to any soup. Kale & Apple Soup is especially delicious: Sauté sliced kale with a chopped onion and apple; then add 2-3 cups low-sodium chicken broth; puree in a blender if desired; top with a spoonful of fat-free plain yogurt.
    • Kale Chips – Wash and dry leaves with a towel; tear into bite-sized pieces; drizzle with a little oil and black pepper. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes until crispy.

swiss chardSwiss Chard

  • Appearance – Dark green leaves with beautiful bright pink, yellow or white stems
     
  • Taste – Slightly tart and pungent, not as bold as kale
     
  • Preparation – Cut out the stems and cook separately. Slice the leaves into thin ribbons and cook as follows:
    • Pasta – Toss leaf ribbons into the pasta water during the last few minutes that the pasta cooks; then drain along with the pasta and serve according to your pasta recipe or just top with a spoonful of fat-free ricotta cheese.
    • Instead of a bed of rice – Fish or shrimp is delicious on Swiss chard ribbons sautéed in a little oil with garlic, and 2 tablespoons of water; cook until bright green and tender-crisp about 2-3 minutes.

fresh arugulaArugula and Escarole

  • Appearance – Arugula is bright green leaves shaped rather like oak leaves; escarole looks like a soft-ball-sized head of curly lettuce.
  • Taste – Both taste peppery; escarole has a more bitter bite
  • Preparation –
    • Salads – Compliment the tanginess of the greens with sweet salad ingredients like orange slices, dried cranberries or raisins. Crunchy nuts add contrast and just 1 teaspoon of a bold blue cheese or aged cheese make the greens taste sweeter.
    • Sandwiches – Add crunch and variety to low fat, low-sodium lunch meat on whole grain bread; top with a sweet component like apple or pear slices. 
Fresh Escarole
 
 
 

 
 
 
 




Article copyright © 2014 American Heart Association. This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.