It’s easy to liven-up a salad or an entrée with the wonderful variety of winter greens available at this time of year. These delicious greens provide bold color, flavor, and a wide variety of nutrients in each serving. Plus, they give your body the nourishment it needs during this time of year. Some of the many nutrients provided by winter greens are vitamins A, C, K, and the minerals iron, calcium, and magnesium. These are some of the key nutrients that help strengthen the immune system—very important at all times of year, but especially as we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and flu season.
You know spinach, kale and collard greens, but there are many other winter greens that may not readily come to your mind. Here are a few of our favorite winter greens, the nutrition they provide, and some ideas for meals.
Don’t miss the delicious recipe at the end of this article!
Arugula. With its bold peppery flavor, it’s no wonder this winter green is known as the “salad rocket” – arugula takes your salad to a whole new level! This green provides vitamins A, C, and the B vitamin, folate. You’ll also get a dose of potassium and calcium from a serving of arugula. Try adding arugula to pizza toppings, rice dishes, quiche, stew, sandwiches and wraps.
Belgian Endive. This winter green also adds kick to your salad. Endive provides fiber, and vitamins B, C and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. Skip the crackers for your hummus or cheese spread by using a sturdy endive leaf, raw or baked.
Beet Greens. With a mild taste similar to kale, beet greens should not be tossed when you chop off the ruby-colored bulb at the end. These greens provide vitamins A and C. Look for firm, fresh greens still attached to the root. Beet greens can be enjoyed raw in a salad, sautéed, braised, or steamed.
Dandelion Greens. Year round in Florida the dandelion is a landscaping pest, but the greens are actually very edible and good for you, too! A serving of dandelion greens gives you vitamin A, C, K and several of the Bs, too (B1, B2, B6). There are also small amounts of a few minerals in dandelion greens. Now, if you treat your lawn with chemicals, then you do not want to pick those dandelions and toss them into a salad. A farm stand and the organic produce section is where you are likely to find dandelion greens.
Kohlrabi. A cousin to broccoli, kohlrabi (aka The German Turnip) has purple, pale green, and white varieties. Slightly sweeter than broccoli, it’s high in potassium, vitamin B6, manganese, and folate. Kohlrabi is delicious to eat raw or sautéed. Try it shredded or chopped in salads, coleslaw, sandwiches or add to soups.
Parsley. Beyond just being a garnish, parsley is a green worthy of being added to your salads. A cup of parsley provides iron, potassium, vitamins A, C, K and folate. Use parsley in the final steps when preparing soups, sauces, casserole, salad dressing, rice or pasta.
Radicchio. Abundant in vitamin K and potassium, radicchio is one of the prettiest winter veggies. It adds color and texture to salads and entrees. It’s also a great green for digestive health. Don’t confuse radicchio with red cabbage; radicchio is a member of the chicory family and has a distinctive, unique flavor that will bring your meals to life.
Watercress. A lovely addition to any salad, watercress is a great source of nutrition, containing fiber, as well as Vitamins K, A and C. One of the more delicate winter greens, it makes for a lovely garnish to any dish.
Many of the cold-weather hardy winter greens are readily found in your local grocery store produce section. Each is also pretty easy to grow in a garden or in containers. Just make sure you are using nutrient-rich (preferably organic) soil as your medium and giving proper light and water. Grow, snip, wash, and enjoy!
On a chilly day, this winter greens entrée will warm you up in no time. Enjoy it as an appetizer in place of a cold salad, or follow our tips for making this a hearty, protein packed main course.
What You’ll Need…
For the main dish
For the salad dressing
Directions for dressing:
Directions for salad:
To make this a protein dense dish, add cooked fish, chicken, turkey, colorful lentils, or shopped/sliced boiled egg or egg whites. For vegan and vegetarian diets, add firm tofu or tempeh.
For a bit of added sweetness, consider topping with 1 Tablespoon golden raisin, currants, or dried cherries–or a little of each!
This recipe adapted from the CLEAN eating program. Recipe photo credit: Jenny Nelson
World’s Healthiest Foods Database
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) “Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables”
Food Data Central published by the US Department of Agriculture
Medicine Talk Professional Nutrition Resources (members only)