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how to cook greens

How to cook greens

‘Tis the season for greens!

– Written by Margo L, veggie fairy & neighborhood Market Manager in Yorktown

Greens are loaded with perishable nutrients, so long as they’re fresh like our locally harvested greens. Our farmers are harvesting two types right now. The cabbage family (Cruciferae) includes bok choy, broccoli, cabbage (obviously), collards, kale, and turnips (which have tasty greens). The goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae) includes beets, chard, and spinach.

So here’s the inside scoop on the difference between greens and how to make use of them, including how to cook greens.

Beets

Beets are loved or hated. They’re dense and have a strong, earthy flavor. But they’re also full of sugars. Beets can be boiled, steamed, or roasted to be eaten on their own or added to salads. They can even be used as a sweetener when baking certain desserts. Beet greens make an excellent salad green or can be sautéed or steamed.

Bok choy

Bok choy is sweet, crisp, and mild tasting. The stems are juicy and sweet and take a few minutes longer to cook than the mild-tasting greens. It’s delicious in stir fries and soups.

Broccoli

Broccoli crowns can be eaten raw, or cooked along with the stem. Just discard the shard tip, then slice the rest of the stem and steam or roast the slices longer than the crown, which needs only brief cooking. Bake broccoli into casseroles or add to soups and stews.

Cabbage

Cabbage, when overcooked, emits hydrogen sulfide (the rotten egg aroma), ammonia, and other foul smells. But cooked with care, it’s delish. Add it to soups or baked dishes, or simmer, sautée, or steam it. Eat it raw in slaws and salads, or use the leaves to wrap up a savory filling. Savoy cabbage, by the way, is the one with extremely crinkled leaves.

Chard

Chard, including lovely rainbow chard, is almost as quick cooking as spinach. You can steam, sautée, or braise it, or add it to soups, stews, and casseroles. The leaf and stem can be prepared together or they may be cooked and served separately.

Collards

Collards are actually a mild tasting variety of kale. Leathery looking but tender after an encounter with heat, they both do well when you slice them into slivers and cook them briefly. They’re commonly cooked with smoked meats, onions, chiles, garlic, and vinegar. But they’re also good with ginger, coconut, and spices like turmeric, coriander, cardamom, and cumin. Raw kale is good in salads or hide it in a smoothie.

Spinach

Spinach is a delicate veggie and best when lightly cooked, just until it begins to go limp. Its mild flavor absorbs any seasoning and its leaves have a velvety quality. Just wash it well, shake off most of the water, and put it in a hot pan – the moisture clinging to the leaves will be sufficient to wilt it. Spinach can also be eaten raw in a salad or smoothie.

Turnips

Turnips, in this case salad turnips, taste similar to a radish – earthy, crunchy, and peppery. Eat the roots and greens raw in a salad, or slice and sautée them.

So eat your greens, enjoy the flavors, and feel oh so very virtuous!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

how to cook greens

‘Tis the season for greens

EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / December 4,2018

Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

‘Tis the season for greens
A pocket guide to our current crop of nutritious powerhouse greens
by Margo, veggie fairy & neighborhood market manager in the Yorktown area

Greens are loaded with perishable nutrients, so long as they’re fresh like our locally harvested greens. Our farmers are harvesting two types right now. The cabbage family (Cruciferae) includes bok choy, broccoli, cabbage (obviously), collards, kale, and turnips (which have tasty greens). The goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae) includes beets, chard, and spinach.

Beets are loved or hated…

Read the rest of the newsletter below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

newsletter page1

newsletter page2

riley shaia spinach health benefits

Spinach is good for your brain, too …

EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / March 28,2018

Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

...AND OTHER COOL SPINACH FACTS

Vintage cartoon fans can probably quote Popeye the Sailor Man’s famous line from memory: “I’m good to the finn-ich cause I eat my spinach!” A whole generation of kids grew up thinking they would be stronger if they ate spinach.

Spinach offers amazing health benefits. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These good things are associated with boosting immunity, lowering blood pressure, fighting the causes of cancer, reducing inflammation, easing constipation and ulcers, and supporting good vision, healthier skin, and stronger bones. It may even ...

Find out more from Riley about spinach storage, history and benefit below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

newsletter 2018-03-28 pg1

newsletter 2018-03-28 pg2

riley shaia spinach health benefits

Spinach is good for your brain, too…

…and other cool spinach facts

By Riley Shaia, certified holistic nutritionist, fitness instructor & Seasonal Roots member (Pictured: center, kneeling)

VEGGIE FAIRY NOTE: You can connect with Riley on Instagram and Facebook!

Vintage cartoon fans can probably quote Popeye the Sailor Man’s famous line from memory: “I’m good to the finn-ich cause I eat my spinach!” A whole generation of kids grew up thinking they would be stronger if they ate spinach.

While that’s still true, it turns out the genesis of that popular notion actually began by mistake. A scientist misreported the number of grams of iron in spinach. According to thekitchn.com, in “1870 a German chemist, Erich von Wolf, correctly ascertained the amount of iron in spinach, but while transcribing his notes, he accidentally misplaced a decimal point: Instead of recording that spinach had 3.5 milligrams of iron per 100-gram serving (as is the case), he wrote that it had 35 milligrams.” That is a lot of iron!

In response to this, the creators of Popeye decided that this would be his superfood. The rest is history. Despite the error, it helped spinach gain popularity with parents and children alike.

In my opinion spinach is extremely versatile and I use it almost every day. Spinach is a great way to get your servings of greens in your diet. It’s easy to throw into smoothies or soup and easy to finely chop and add to spaghetti sauce and other foods.

What is spinach?

Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse that is in the same family as beets, chard, and quinoa.

Spinach’s amazing health benefits!

Spinach is rich in vitamins A, C, and K; minerals such as magnesium and calcium in addition to iron (obviously!); and antioxidant flavonoids and carotenoids. These good things are associated with boosting immunity, lowering blood pressure, fighting the causes of cancer, reducing inflammation, easing constipation and ulcers, and supporting good vision, healthier skin, and stronger bones. It may even improve your memory and slow down the aging of your brain! Watch this quick CBS News report about a recent scientific study on spinach brain power.

How to store and wash spinach

  • Fresh spinach should be kept unwashed, wrapped in a paper towel, and placed in an airtight container in your fridge’s cool, dark crisper. If it’s local and freshly harvested, it can be stored this way in the refrigerator for up to a week. But the sooner you eat it, the more nutrients it will still have.
  • To be the most economical and still get the nutrients, you can buy it frozen. If you buy it fresh but can’t eat it right away, it’s easy to freeze yourself to preserve the nutrients. Here’s how.
  • DO always wash freshly harvested local spinach just before you use it! It’s grown in fine sandy soil, which gets splashed up on the leaves. Fill the sink or a large bowl with cold water and gently agitate the leaves with your hands so the grit sinks to the bottom. Lift out the greens and change the water as needed, repeating until the water remains clear.
  • Surprising fact: Cooked spinach is better for you — with one exception

    In most cases, cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits! (I’ll explain the exception in a moment.) Just half a cup of cooked spinach will give you three times as much nutrition as one cup of raw spinach. That’s because the body cannot completely break down the nutrients in raw spinach to make full use of all the goodness contained in the leaves.

    Here’s the reason why: There’s a compound in spinach called oxalic acid, which blocks the absorption of calcium and iron. The problem is solved when you cook the spinach — the heat reduces oxalic acid’s power. But cook spinach lightly to preserve the nutrients while reducing the acid.

    By the way, avoid cooking spinach in aluminum – some reports indicate it may ruin the spinach’s color and taste.

    The exception to the “cooked is better for you” rule is when you pair raw spinach with a food that’s high in vitamin C. Vitamin C counteracts oxalic acid, too. Mandarin oranges and cantaloupes will do the trick, and combining them with fresh spinach leaves makes for a delicious salad.

    There are so many ways to use spinach!

    Cooked or raw, you can add spinach to almost anything.

  • Throw it in soups or smoothies for a nutritional boost.
  • Saute it in extra virgin olive oil with garlic and/or onions.
  • Sneak it into sauces — chop it finely first.
  • Use it in salad alone or with other lettuces.
  • Add it to a stir fry.
  • Make it an appetizer! Check out the following recipe…
  • Dive into this highly addictive spinach appetizer

    DAIRY-FREE SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP

    Recipe from ForksOverKnives.com

    INGREDIENTS: (Shout-out to our local food providers in all-caps!)
    1¼ c unsweetened unflavored plant-based milk (such as soy), or grassfed TRICKLING SPRINGS CREAMERY milk
    3 T all-purpose or oat flour
    1 t onion powder
    1 t garlic powder
    1 T fresh lemon juice
    2 c COTTLE ORGANICS spinach (fresh, or frozen and thawed), finely chopped
    1 (14-oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped (about 1½ c)
    sea salt to taste
    black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Combine the milk, flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens to a spreadable consistency. If using cow milk, use medium heat and watch closely to avoid burning the milk or boiling over.
    2. Add the spinach and artichoke hearts. Mix well, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes more, until the spinach has wilted. Add 1 to 2 T of water if the sauce gets too thick.
    3. Let the dip cool completely.
    4. Serve the dip warm or cold with the baguettes, tortilla chips, or pita chips.

    This recipe and lots more are on the Seasonal Roots Pinterest spinach board.

    No spinach? Try creasy greens!

    Creasies are native plants that are much hardier than spinach, while still rich in iron and calcium with lots of vitamin A and C. Cooking tames creasy greens’ peppery arugula flavor, turning it mild like spinach. You can substitute it for spinach in any of our recipes. If you’ve never tried this native treasure, enjoy the thrill of discovery — that’s what eating local and seasonal is all about! Click here for a farm wife’s tutorial on creasy greens.

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grass-fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    fall superfoods health benefits

    12 fall superfoods to watch for

    The seasonal health benefits of local food just keep coming!

    By the Veggie Fairy Team

    Many farmers markets shut down or scale back as temps drop, but not us. No way do we want to miss out on the superfoods of fall! They’re just now starting to hit their peak – the perfect excuse to gather in a warm, cozy kitchen on cool nights and enjoy these fall superfoods that are super-charged because they’re local and super fresh! Here’s what you can look forward to, along with recipe suggestions from our Pinterest boards:

    Apples

    Sweet or tart, raw or baked into a delicious dish, apples offer health benefits like heart-healthy flavonoids that you get when you eat the skin; antioxidants; and 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Harvest season: August-November. Try this recipe: Winter Apple Slaw

    Brussels sprouts

    With a mild, satisfyingly bitter taste, Brussels sprouts are great with tangy or savory sauces like balsamic vinegar. Health benefits include the fact that a half cup more than maxes out your daily recommended allowance of vitamin K, plus these sprouts are a good source of folate and iron. Harvest season: September-March. Try this recipe: Creamy Sprouts Gratin

    Cauliflower

    The sweet, slightly nutty flavor of cauliflower is delicious raw, steamed, or roasted. It can also be blended to create a mashed potato-like texture or pureed into soup. Among cauliflower’s health benefits are compounds that may help to prevent cancer and phytonutrients that may lower cholesterol. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C. Harvest season: September–June. Try this recipe: Sticky Sesame Cauliflower Bites

    Fennel

    Looking like the love child of an onion and a dill plant, fennel tastes mildly like licorice and offers the health benefits of free-radical-fighting vitamin C, and potassium, which is essential for your heart, muscles, nerves, and kidneys to function properly. Harvest season: Fall through spring. Try this recipe: Fennel, Fontina & Onion Pizza

    Parsnips

    They look like pale carrots, and like carrots, parsnips are sweet — sweeter, actually, and nuttier. Eat them roasted on their own, or they go great with just about every other fall vegetable. For your good health, they’re rich in potassium and fiber. Harvest season: October-April. Try this recipe: Roasted Parsnips & Carrots

    Pears

    Crisp or tender, they’re all juicy and sweet and so delicious. Enjoy them raw, baked, or poached. They’re a good source of vitamin C and copper, of all things, and deliver 4 grams of fiber apiece. Harvest season: August-February. Try this recipe: Asian Pear Cranberry Stuffing

    Pumpkins

    What is fall without pumpkins?!! This queen of the winter squashes gets a category all its own, because it’s good for so much more than jack o’ lanterns and pies. This is another fall veggie whose health benefits include lots of potassium, plus tons of fiber and it’s a good source of B vitamins. Harvest season: October-February. Try this recipe: Pumpkin Chicken Tacos (just go easy on the jalapenos and tomatillos if you’re not into hot’n spicy!)

    Rutabagas

    Rutabagas are like a cross between a turnip and a parsnip, with an earthy flavor that’s delicious in casseroles. Or puree them with turnips and carrots to make a sweet soup, or roast them with ginger, honey, or lemon. However you eat them, you’ll get their health benefits of fiber and vitamin C. Harvest season: October-April. Try this recipe: Curried Rutabaga Soup

    Spinach

    Not just for Popeye, spinach is good raw in a salad or steamed or baked into other dishes. Cooking actually makes it easier for our bodies to digest its nutrients. The health benefits are so extensive we can’t list them all here! (Read them here.) Vitamins A, C, K, and iron, and a storehouse of disease-fighting phytonutrients are just the beginning. Harvest season: Year-round, but it gets sweeter after the first nip from Jack Frost. Try this recipe: Spinach & Mushroom Quinoa

    Sweet potatoes

    These veggies are good for so much more than Thanksgiving casseroles! Sweet potatoes are more nutritionally dense than white potatoes, with health benefits that include vitamin A, iron, and anti-inflammatory properties. Roast them like a potato, or cut up like fries. Harvest season: September–December. Try this recipe: Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

    Turnips

    Tender and mild, these root vegetables are a great alternative to radishes and cabbage. Flavor them with fennel, bread crumbs, or even brown sugar, or use them as a slightly bitter complement to the sweetness of parsnips and carrots. Turnip leaves, which taste like mustard leaves, are easy to steam or stir fry and are even denser in nutrients. The health benefits of the roots include vitamin C, while the leaves are rich in vitamins A, K, and folate. Harvest season: September–April. Try these recipes: Mashed Turnips with Bacon (because for the meat-eaters among us, everything’s better with bacon!) and Warm Turnip Green Dip

    Winter squashes

    Cool weather squashes are denser, finer, and sweeter than summer squashes, and their thick skins mean you can store them for months without much loss of flavor or nurtients. They contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (also good for kids’ brain health), are an excellent source of vitamin A, and taste even better with cinnamon and ginger, which have health benefits of their own. Harvest season: October–February. Try this recipe: Roasted Stuffed Winter Squash

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

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