Loads of Love for Winter Greens!
Here in Appalachia, seasonal eating means having loads of greens throughout the year. A variety of greens, including kale, chard, and spinach can be grown well in our region. And, thanks to their cold-weather hardiness and the use of high tunnels, greens are among the limited crops available in the peak of winter. In years past, winter greens were a staple food for many West Virginians, but sadly most people today don't know how to prepare and eat them.
Don't know what to do with greens?
You buy them because they're good for you, only to find them in the fridge a week later, good for nothing but the garbage heap! Or maybe you don't buy them at all, thinking you don't like them and have no idea how to make them. Or you think you have to make some crazy recipe that's made primarily from the greens, and your kids (and let's be honest, you) won't enjoy the taste.
PSA: It's doesn't have to be complicated!
We keep it simple around here, and you can, too.
There are some easy ways you can use those greens in your kitchen. So, let's breakdown some of them. Spoiler Alert- Just put them in everything you cook! Simple, right?
Eat it Fresh - Americans like to eat salads. Like, All. The. Time!
Ok, so, not all Americans like salads, but you get me. Salads don't have to be boring, either. Winter greens salads look very different than the salads most people think of, and they are a great way to get those dark leafy greens into your body. So, grab a bag of mixed greens, roast some winter squash, and top with dried berries, nuts, seeds, a hard-boiled egg, and some leftover chicken or steak. What greens should you use for this salad? Well, whatever is fresh that week, from your local farmer, available on the
Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective online farmers market, is perfect. A nice mix is best. We use collards, kale, broccoli greens, mustard greens, chard, spinach, radish greens, kohlrabi greens. The list goes on and on and on and on. You can add a little apple cider vinegar and olive oil and gently massage them for a cold salad, or try cutting your greens up and sautéing. I like to do a little of both.
Blend It In - I get greens into my kids mainly because I put them in all their smoothies. Cucumber, carrots, pineapple, ginger...and, you guessed it, greens. Yep, even the peanut butter, cocoa, and banana smoothies have greens in them! Plus, there is no need to use yogurt or any dairy product at all. Just add a splash of orange juice or water, and a little fruit like pineapple and peach give to it that sweetness, and then add greens and vegetables.
With Eggs - No, seriously, adding greens to eggs makes a delicious meal. Try sauteing greens and tomatoes and make an omelet. Add whatever vegetables, like onions, peppers, tomatoes, or winter squash, you have on hand to make a tasty scramble, or just mix it together and toss it in the oven to create a breakfast casserole. A good quality cheese doesn't hurt either.
In Soups - Any soup is better with greens. Chicken and rice, Potato, Vegetable, Ham and Green Bean, Curry, and even Chicken Noodle Soup are great with greens! Whatever soup you like. Just cut 'em up and throw 'em in there. If you need them to be tiny to get them past your family, then do it.
There's no one right way to get greens into your recipes. Just remember it's all about how to fit this into your family. So try it out and see what you think.
Need more suggestions?
Try it out with quesadillas or burritos, pizza, pesto, pasta salad, stir fry, whatever you like. The recipes you already enjoy are the ones that work best, you just add greens. The only limitation in a recipe is your imagination. Don't worry if your creative dinner doesn't look perfect as long as you find ways to make it taste amazing. Once you let go of the Pinterest picture idea of what your dinner "should" look like, you'll be free to just use those greens and other vegetables in any way that works for you.
Don't place too many labels on your food, either. That egg bake I mentioned earlier? We do that for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Also, don't feel like you need to cook something different every night of the week. Our lives are busy and stressful, but dinner doesn't have to be. If you make tacos one night, you can likely make them useful for at least a couple more meals with quick, easy changes. Smoothies aren't just for breakfast. If you find yourself in an afternoon slump and reaching for a sugary snack, try a smoothie instead. It's such an easy way to get a lot of fruits and vegetables into our bodies. The nutritional quality is a lot better than that candy bar. And, since it doesn't cause that blood sugar spike like a candy bar would, you might actually feel satisfied and be able to focus throughout the rest of the afternoon.
So, why are greens so great for us?
Because nature is awesome. Duh! But no, greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, manganese, dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin B6, and potassium. These vitamins and minerals do so many spectacular things for our bodies inside and out.
Vitamin C is an immune system super boost. Our bodies don't create our own vitamin c. The only way to get it is through the foods we eat! The fiber in greens is excellent for digestion, easing or eliminating constipation, and can help decrease nutritional deficiencies. They are a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants, like the ones found in vitamins a, c, and e, protect our cells from free radicals. These free radicals lead to wrinkles and skin irritations, cellular damage that leads to chronic illnesses, heart disease, immune deficiency, and even cancer.
You have so many super easy ways to get them onto your plate or into a bowl or cup.
So eat your greens!
Have any recipes you would like to share?
Comment below or post on your social media to share your love of winter greens and tag us or use the hashtag #HowIEatMyGreens!