Article by Christine Zellers, Assistant Professor/Educator Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Department of Family and Community Health Sciences published January 26, 2023
All vegetables provide nutrients to keep our bodies healthy and leafy greens are no exception. Although leafy green vegetables are not in season in the months of January through March, they are still readily available at the local grocery store or produce market. Most varieties of greens thrive in New Jersey in cooler months like April-June and September-November. Leafy greens include arugula, bok choy, cabbage, collards, dandelion greens, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, Swiss chard, Rapini (broccoli raab), spinach, and turnip greens. While the various greens have a variety of vitamins naturally some contain more or less than others. For instance, salad greens, kale and spinach are high in vitamins A, C, E and K while bok choy and mustard greens are also rich in Vitamin B. The carotenoids-antioxidants contained in leafy greens may prevent early stages of cancer and the high level of fiber promotes regularity and assist with diabetes prevention. For lactose intolerant people or those who may not consume enough dairy products green leafy vegetables have calcium along with high levels of iron, magnesium, and potassium. The vitamin K and calcium can help to protect bones against breaks and osteoporosis. The levels of folate provided in these vegetables prevent birth defects and should be eaten especially by women who are of childbearing age. Try increasing the number and variety of greens you eat to get all the health benefits for disease prevention and great tasting meal options.
Leafy greens aren’t just for salads there are many ways to incorporate them in meal planning and snacks. When you are making a dish think about how you can add greens to pork or chicken dishes to pack in extra vitamins and minerals. If you’re not a fan or find leafy greens too tough or bitter, try adding kale or spinach to a green smoothie. Adding fruit, soy milk or yogurt to a smoothie can ease the bitter taste of kale and spinach. Salads of course are a good way to get greens in and more tender varieties taste better in salads, the tender varieties are sometimes called baby. To accompany leafy green salads citrus dressings, make a yummy addition to the salad, fruit like dried cranberries or mandarin oranges make for an appealing addition too as do walnuts and almonds. Tougher varieties of leafy greens like curly kale are great in stews and soups because soaking in the broth makes the veggies more tender. Sautéing instead of boiling will help to maintain the nutrient content and using a little olive oil and garlic powder to sauté spinach or collard greens will make them tender and tasty. Adding leafy greens to sandwiches, wraps or omelets could increase leafy green consumption too. To add leafy greens into a one pan meal try the One Pan Pork and Beans with Kale recipe.
One Pan Pork and Beans with Kale
8 Boneless Pork Chops
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
1 Shallot, minced
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup dry white cooking wine
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups of kale, chopped
1-12 ounce can of white beans- drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Slice pork chops into strips
Add two tablespoons olive oil and brown pork slices in Olive oil on medium heat
Once pork is browned add minced shallot
Add White wine and lemon juice
Add 4 tablespoons butter and reduce heat to low
Stir pork and liquid until thickened
Add rinsed drained beans once sauce has thickened
Add Kale and mix until Kale becomes soft
Remove and serve- Enjoy!