Harvest of the Month | Cooked greens featured for January | SierraSun.com

Harvest of the Month | Cooked greens featured for January

Maria Martin
Special to the Sun
Konstantin Kulikov/Thinkstockphotos.comMom always said and#8220;eat your greens.and#8221; Did she mention they taste great and are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants?
Getty Images/Hemera | Hemera

TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; When the weather gets cold it is time to eat your greens! Swiss chard, kale, collards, mustard greens, bok choy, and rapini are at their sweetest and most plentiful from mid-winter to early spring. Tahoe Truckee Unified School District elementary school students will explore and taste kale and other greens as part of the Harvest of the Month program.

These vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and flavonoids to nourish our bodies and keep us healthy during the cold and flu season and beyond.

Kale and other greens have a long history and have been grown and eaten for more than 2,000 years. They were a significant crop during ancient Roman times, popular with peasants during the Middle Ages, and brought to America by English settlers in the 17th century. This vegetable is easy to grow and does well in colder temperatures where a light frost actually makes it sweeter.

Kale, a descendent of the wild cabbage plant, is cruciferous vegetable. Kale is an excellent source of Vitamins A, K, C and is packed full of many other vitamins and minerals. Kale and other cruciferous vegetables have been studied for their cancer prevention benefits. These vegetables are high in antioxidants and flavonoids that protect cells from damage by free radicals, anti-inflammatory nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin K, and a variety of glucosinolates which are converted by the body into cancer preventive compounds. Eating kale and other cruciferous vegetables can help lower your risk for five different types of cancer including cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostrate.

Chose kale and other greens with firm, deeply colored leaves and strong stems. Avoid those that are wilted or have brown or yellow spots. Store the greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Make sure the greens are dry and try to remove as much air as possible from the bag. Greens can be stored for up to five days.

We know greens are good for us, but many of us do not regularly eat these types of vegetables, perhaps because we are not sure how to prepare them or donand#8217;t think that we will like them. Never fear, greens are easy to prepare and taste great! Steaming and sauteing are quick and simple cooking methods and work well with all greens. Greens are also a great addition to soups, quiches and frittatas. You will want to remove the stems from kale and collards before cooking because they can be tough.

The start of the New Year is a great time to and#8220;resolveand#8221; to eat more greens and include them in your weekly menus this winter. Why not try this 5-Minute Kale recipe this week?

and#8212; Maria Martin, MPH, RD is a member of the Nutrition Coalition and a Health Promotion Dietitian at the Tahoe Center for Health and Sports Performance. The Nutrition Coalition is supported by the Tahoe Forest Hospital Health System. Contact them at 530-587-3769, ext. 7126 or mmartin@tfhd.com.

5-Minute Kale

Ingredients:

1 pound of kale, stems removed and leaves chopped

Mediterranean Dressing:

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 medium clove of garlic, pressed or chopped

3 Tbps. extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

Sliced onions (steam with the kale)

2 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes

2 Tbsp. sliced kalamata olives

2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese

1 tsp. soy sauce