News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Family and Food: Mighty Leafy Greens

JCCHD | Tue, July 03, 2012 | [Family and Food][Healthcare]

Swiss Chard Rolls

Leafy greens don’t just include the obvious varieties such as turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and beet greens, but also arugula, endive, broccoli, bok choy, escarole, kale, lettuce, watercress, spinach, and swiss chard. Each of these greens has been eaten by humans for centuries; even Aristotle wrote about leafy greens such as red chard.

And no wonder, since these greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods nature offers us. The ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density) scores prove it. ANDI scores use a scale to evaluate foods based on vitamin, mineral, phytochemical, and antioxidant levels.  The scores range from 1 to 1000, with 1000 being the most nutrient-dense. Five different types of leafy greens receive scores of a perfect 1000 on the ANDI scale: mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens, kale, and watercress. Of all the leafy greens, arugula is the lowest at 559, which is still approximately twice the score of cauliflower or artichokes. Leafy greens are significant sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. They also contain good amounts of fiber, are extremely low in calories, and contain no fats. Eating these foods on a regular basis has also been associated with a lowered cancer risk.

When selecting greens either from the store or from your own backyard garden, keep in mind that cooking reduces the volume significantly, so one pound of mustard greens may only provide 1½ cups of greens once it is cooked. Select brightly colored, crisp greens, without brown or gray areas. Store them in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp paper towel, using a perforated container, and they should keep for up to a week.

To prepare for cooking or for eating raw, wash the greens thoroughly in a bowl or sink of warm water and swish around. Remove roots and stems, and repeat the washing process. For salad greens, spin and dry on paper towels. Mild greens should be steamed until tender. Stronger greens, such as mustard or collards, should be cooked longer.

There are a few tips to preparing greens:
• To prevent strong cabbage odors, add a whole walnut to the cooking liquid.
• To prevent red cabbage from turning blue, add 1tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to prevent leaching.
• Only use glass, enamel, or stainless steel pans, not aluminum or copper, since they will react with the sulfur compounds and create unpleasant odors and deplete vitamin and mineral content.

If you are new to including greens in your diet, here are a few suggestions for using them:
• Blend greens with fruits for a smoothie
• Add them to sandwiches and salads, stir fry, soups, stews, or pasta sauces
• As a wrap in place of a tortilla
• As a substitute for spinach in most recipes.

Try some of these delicious recipes to enjoy a nutritious, delicious meal.

Collard and Mustard Greens with Bacon

4 ounces slab bacon, cut into ¼ inch pieces
1 small onion, minced
2 large bunches collard greens, stemmed
1 bunch mustard greens, stemmed
½ cup chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco), optional

1. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until fat is rendered.
2. Reduce heat to low. Add onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
3. Add all greens and stock.
4. Cover and cook until greens are just tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Sprinkle greens with hot pepper sauce if desired. Transfer to bowl and serve.
7. Makes 8 servings.

Printable recipe

Collard Greens with Lima Beans and Smoked Turkey
(This one pot meal can be made up to three days ahead and refrigerated)

1 10-ounce package frozen lima beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups vertically sliced red onion
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup sliced smoked turkey breast
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
8 cups sliced collard greens (about ½ pound)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Thyme sprigs, optional

1. Preheat oven to 375º.
2. Heat oil in pan over medium-low heat.
3. Add onion; sauté 10 minutes.
4. Add beans, broth, and the next 5 ingredients (beans through bay leaf); bring to boil.
5. Cover and bake at 375º for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
6. Stir in collards, vinegar, and tomatoes.
7. Cover and bake an additional 1-hour or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally.
8. Stir in salt and pepper.
9. Discard bay leaf.
10. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Printable recipe

Swiss Chard Rolls

2 eggs
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cups cooked wild rice or white rice pilaf
2 cups chopped cooked white and dark turkey or chicken
2 bunches Swiss chard, trimmed

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, garlic, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and parsley. Stir in rice pilaf and turkey. Set filling aside.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. If any Swiss chard leaves are longer than 12 inches, cut them in half crosswise.
3. Flatten out any large stalks with a fork to allow for even blanching and easier rolling.
4. Immerse 4 to 6 leaves at a time in boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet as done and allow leaves to drain and cool slightly.
5. Arrange 1 leaf on a work surface, smooth side down.
6. Place 3 to 4 tablespoons filling in the center then roll up, starting with the large end of the leaf and folding it over the filling to roll up like a burrito.
7. Repeat process with remaining leaves and filling, placing rolls seam side down in a steamer basket as done.
8. Steam for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the rolls reaches 160°F.
9. Transfer to plates and serve.

Printable recipe

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