Friday, October 17, 2014

Go out and get your Greens!

In my last post Whatcha Eat Today I told my food journal volunteer to eat more greens.  I told her that greens would be great in a smoothie or in her morning omelet and you know what, the next day she tried it and I was so excited!  Then later that day I was in line at the the grocery store and  I noticed the couple behind me asking each other what the different greens were as the cashier rang up my order.  Then it hit me greens might be familiar to me but other than Spinach and Cabbage do people know greens?
Well welcome to your introduction to wonderful leafy greens.  This will be easy I promise.

There are a large varities of greens including, Arugula, Beet Greens, Bok Choy, Broccoli Rabe, Collards, Dandelion, Endive, Escarole, Kale, Mizuna, Mustard, Swiss Chard and Turnip.  Some are sweet, bitter and earthy, some are pungent, peppery and sharp and some are tender with a mild flavor.Some have hard inedible stems that need to have the leaves taken off before cooking and some you can eat the entire leaf.  Greens can be eaten raw in a salad or mixed in a smoothie.  Greens can be Steamed, sauteed,braised added to soups, stir fried and in stews and are often interchangeable in your recipes.  If Mustard greens are too bitter for you try Kale, if you don't like the toughness of Kale try Chard.
Once you decided to try different greens you need to know how to pick them, how much to get and how to store them.
Most greens can be found year round but this time of the year the hardier ones like Collards, Kale, Turnip and Mustard greens are at their peak.  When shopping for greens look for crisp leaves with nice vibrant green color.  If you see yellow leaves it is a sign of aging and they may not have their full flavor potential.  If you are making greens for you and your family remember that they cook down quite a bit so you need to get about one pound for every 2-3 people you are feeding.
Once you get them home you need to store them in the refrigerator, most people store their greens and other fruits and veggies in the crisper drawer but unless you are saving them for a special day I like to keep mine wrapped in a damp paper towel on the top shelf so that I remember to use them instead of forget about them and they go bad.  No matter where you put them in your fridge they will lose a bit of their crispness so the quicker you use them the better.  
To prepare your greens for cooking you need to wash them really well and cut off the stems if they are tough like in the case of Collards, Mustard and Kale.  As for Chard, Bok choy Turnip and Beet greens eat the whole leaf.
Now that you know how to pick, store and prep greens here are three of my favorite greens and the recipes I use them in.

Spinach- tender, sweet and adds it self well to be eaten raw or cooked. This is my husband's favorite vegetable and you will always find it in my fridge and freezer.  My morning are complete after this quick 3 ingredient smoothie.

2 cups of milk of choice
1 cup of fresh spinach
2 fresh mangoes - peeled and chopped
Mix all ingredients in Blender. Serve cold

My next favorite green might not be that familiar to everyone but once you try it, you will love it
Escarole - is a member of the endive family and looks a lot like green leaf lettuce and has a mild flavor and is great in winter salads raw or in this Escarole and White Bean soup.

For this soup you need;
1 head of Escarole, chopped 
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 large shallot, diced
1 28 oz. of diced canned tomatoes with basil
1 large carrot, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
2 cans 14 oz. cans of white beans drained and rinsed
4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
1 dried Bay leaf
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning

Heat a large soup pot on medium high heat.  Add the shallots, carrot and celery in 2 tablespoons of the broth until the vegetables are tender adding more broth as needed.  Add the garlic, Escarole and canned tomatoes, Bay leaf, Italian seasoning and the rest of the broth to the pot and bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Cook the soup until the escarole is tender  about 20 minutes and add the rinsed beans.  Simmer uncover for 10 minutes and serve hot.

The last of greens for the night is an oldie but goodie for me and anyone who is a lover of Soul food but was a complete stranger to the couple n line is the lovely Collard green.  
Collard greens- big round flat leaves that have an inedible stem.Collards don't cook down as much as tender greens like spinach but need at least 15-20 minutes to cook. This recipe is a winter time staple in my house.
Collard Greens with Black Eyed Peas and Rice

1 large bunch of fresh chopped Collard greens with stems removed
1 can of black eyed peas and their liquid
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of  vegan Worcestershire sauce
2-3 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke
salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste
1 cup of cooked brown rice
Heat large soup pot over medium high heat and add the onions and garlic and 2 Tablespoons of broth.  saute the vegetables until the onions are opaque adding more broth if needed.  Add the greens, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce and the 2 cups of the broth.  Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add more broth as needed.  Add the black eye peas and their liquid and the rest of the broth and simmer for 5 minutes.  Spoon into a bowl over 1/2 cup of brown rice and season with Tabasco, salt and pepper.

If you didn't know greens I hope you will give them a try with one of these recipes and send me a picture.  If you use greens all the time and have a recipe you would like me to try please email me at
Now go out and get your greens!