Ask EFNEP: Using Leafy Greens

— By Laurie Colton, EFNEP Community Education Assistant

You might often hear, eat your greens! Today I love most greens but I haven’t always. Growing up, the only way I would eat Swiss chard was to mix it in fresh mashed potatoes and butter. I’ve since learned to love leafy greens and if I had to choose a favorite or two it would have to be Swiss chard and beet greens. For this reason, I always have both growing in my raised bed garden from early summer to fall.

Why should you choose to eat more greens? Greens are an excellent source of vitamin A. They’re also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, and fiber. There are so many varieties of leafy greens and different kinds to choose from. Beet greens, Swiss chard, spinach, kale, and dandelion greens just to name a few – all of which you can grow in your own garden, raised bed garden, a container, or whatever works for you. In Maine, the availability of greens ranges from early spring to fall – depending on the variety of greens.

Preparing greens doesn’t take much time at all. Wash thoroughly in lukewarm water to remove the dirt, and pat the greens with a clean towel or use a salad spinner to dry them, and either add to fresh dishes or cook.

Mild greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, can be steamed, boiled, or eaten raw. If you cook them, they should be cooked quickly to preserve their bright green color. Young greens such as young beet greens, spinach, and dandelion greens make perfect additions to salads and are great eaten raw. Another great way to eat greens is by sautéing them in a little canola or olive oil. They can be used in many other ways like in omelets, quiches, pasta dishes, soups, and casseroles. Many greens can be preserved for future use.

Recipe Ideas