Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Goin' Green

Kale - Nutritional Powerhouse
Unfortunately for us, our green season has pretty much come to a close. By "Green" I mean our garden greens. We have been loving them. For many of you though you still have some green days ahead. If you haven't been planting greens in your garden you should give them a try. We have found them amazing easy to grow and extremely delicious. Most importantly they are packed with nutrition. Let me tell you about a few that we grow.
Kale in a planter.
Giant Winter Spinach

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. It is said to be one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. In addition it grows easily and it is very pretty. I even planted kale in my decorative flower pots.  Kale is of course extremely low in calories but is loaded with fiber, and is highly concentrated with the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K. We love kale both raw and cooked and we have been eating a lot of it.

Spinach had long been know for being an iron rich vegetable. It also is a good source of fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K. I have actually been craving spinach for most of the spring.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard

Leaf Lettuce

We have struggled to grow Swiss Chard in the past. But it grew beautifully this year. I am so glad, because it is delicious! I love it! We have really been enjoying it. It is also full of vitamins A, C, and K and is rich in dietary fiber and protein.The stems on this Bright Lights Swiss Chard remind me a lot of rhubarb, not only appearance but taste as well.

Although, not as high in nutrients as many of the other greens, lettuce is still a tasty choice. The greener and more colorful the lettuce the more nutrient rich it is. Iceberg lettuce has the lowest nutritional value of all lettuces. We grow a bit of leaf lettuce in our garden but to be honest most things we would use lettuce for (hamburgers, sandwiches, and salads) we choose to use spinach or one of the other greens instead. Most often we will mix it with other greens for a tasty salad.

Giant harvest of beet greens.

Another really great green that we often have an abundance of is beet greens. I have to admit these are not my personal favorite, but they have grown on me. I didn't care for them at all in the past, but now I will occasionally eat them sauteed and we like to throw them into our "Green" Smoothies. This is the beet green from last years harvest of beets. We planted a lot and canned and pickled beets. This year we only planted a few for greens.
The wonderful thing about greens is you can continually harvest them. I usually cut the outer leaves first and leave the younger inside leaves to grow and mature. The more you harvest them the more they will grow.

Swiss Chard being Sauteed with garlic and onion.

We use greens in a variety of ways, but our favorite way is to throw them in a smoothie. At least this is the way the kids enjoy them most because, they can't really taste them. :)  Jacob and I love them sauteed with garlic and onion. We like to add sauteed greens to things like scrambled eggs and pasta dishes. I will also add pureed greens to my pasta sauces. Of course, we also enjoy them raw in salads. It is most beneficial to grow greens yourself and harvest them as you use them, because once you have harvested them the nutrients begin to deteriorate. It has been show that frozen spinach (I am sure this is true for other greens too) actually contain more nutrients than the store bought fresh spinach, because by freezing the spinach you lock in the nutrients. Check back in a few days for a post on how to freeze your own spinach or other greens.

Variety of greens from the garden harvested for a smoothie (kale, chard, spinach, and flat leaf parsley).


Lisa said...

I love the idea of planting the kale and lettuce in planters, especially in Utah where it gets cold and we can bring the planters in! Thanks!

Shaun-ta' said...

Lisa, planters are great for greens! They are actually very cold hardy so in Utah you can actually plant them early in the spring and again in the fall. Most of our greens that we have been enjoying all spring were actually planted in the fall and they overwintered. You probably won't be able to do that in Utah, but they would last outside for awhile. I remember having broccoli growing in our Utah home with a bunch of snow on it and it was still going strong. But if you used a planter you could even bring them in under a covered porch for frost protection.