Getting Your Greens
Tasty Ways to Prepare Good-for-You Greens
-- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator
When Martha Stewart was doing hard time, there were reports that she voluntarily pulled up weeds outside in the prison yard each day. Was she just trying to get out early for good behavior? Not quite. Martha was actually taking an unconventional approach to good nutrition. She would harvest the leaves of dandelions, wash them, and then eat the nutritionally-dense greens as a side dish to balance out her bland prison fare.
Martha couldn’t have picked a better side dish, from a nutritional standpoint. Foraging for foliage provided her with a rich source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium, iron, folate, and magnesium. Besides these vitamins and minerals, dandelion greens also contain Lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Fiber and potassium are also abundant in the greens.
But don’t worry—you don’t have to become a weed eater to enjoy the benefits of greens. There are lots of nutritious choices of greens that you can pick up at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. You could try collard, turnip, broccoli rabe, or mustard greens—all of which, like dandelion greens, are strong-flavored and slightly bitter. Or you could enjoy popular greens like spinach, chard, beet greens, and bok choy, which are mild and tender. And then there’s kale, which lies somewhere in the middle of the flavor spectrum.