Go green … dark green

We all know it’s important to include a variety of vegetables in our diet.

We all know it’s important to include a variety of vegetables in our diet. All vegetables are good, but some are packed with more nutrients than others. Some of the top contenders in nutritional value include kale and spinach. These dark greens are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin A. They are also a great source of the antioxidant lutein, which is thought to promote healthy eyes.

These veggies are green in more ways than one. Eating dark greens this time of year is an environmentally friendly choice as local gardens are overflowing. Reduce food miles by buying your greens at your local farmers market.

Sick of spinach salads? Spinach can easily be preserved for later use. Blanch spinach in boiling water for one minute. Rinse in cold water and drain or squeeze off the extra moisture. Pack in freezer bags or containers and freeze for future use in lasagne, spanakopita, spinach dip or frittatas.

Not sure what to do with kale? You’re not alone! Kale tends to be tough so it is best when cooked.

It can be steamed, sautéed or simmered. Remove the tough stems, tear or chop the leaves into bite sized pieces and steam until bright green and tender (approximately 10 minutes). Add your favourite dressing to flavour and serve as a side dish. Or you can sauté it with garlic and onions and top with lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. When cooking grains such as rice or quinoa you can add a large handful of chopped kale and some fresh herbs to the pot and let it cook with the grain.

Lemon Kale

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp lemon rind, grated

½-1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (depending on preference)

10 cups kale, chopped

¾ cup water

In large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook until softened.

Stir in kale and lemon rind. Continue to stir for about a minute or until the kale is slightly wilted. Add 3/4 cup water; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender (about 10 minutes). Finally, stir in the lemon juice and cook uncovered for another minute or two until the liquid has cooked off.  Serve as a side dish. Pairs well with fish.

Simone Jennings is a community nutritionist with Interior Health.

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