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Greens, Glorious Greens:Winter Greens Provide a Nutritional Boost During the Cold Season

by Laurie Wertich 10/21/2018

Winter is not known for its abundance of fresh vegetables—which poses a conundrum because our bodies still need nutrients even if the soil has gone on lockdown for the season. But Mother Nature would never leave us completely hanging, which is why the cold season provides nutrient-dense cruciferous vegetables. These dark, leafy greens thrive during the colder months and will carry you through to spring.

Cruciferous vegetables are cold-resistant and rich in phytonutrients. They are a highly concentrated source of nutrition. Dark, leafy greens are at their best during winter. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, and folate.

Interested in incorporating greens into your winter diet? Start with these delicious basics:

Kale: Kale is developing a reputation as a superfood and making its way onto more and more menus. It is loaded with calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and beta carotene. There are several different types of kale, but they generally fall into three categories: curly leaf, flat leaf, or ornamental. When buying kale, look for smaller leaves that are a fresh, green color. Avoid buying kale with leaves that are turning yellow or brown.

There are countless ways to prepare kale—it’s delicious raw in salads or braised and tossed with garlic and butter. You can also make kale chips: rip the leaves into bite size pieces, toss with olive oil and sea salt and then bake in a 300-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until crispy. For an added kick, add a dash of cayenne pepper before baking.

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Chard: Chard is a dark, leafy green that actually hails from the beet family. This cold-hardy green can be grown almost year-round. While the leaves are always green, the stems can range in color from green to white to red. Chard is an excellent source of vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin B, iron, calcium, beta carotene, and a whole range of antioxidants. Furthermore, chard has been shown to help regulate blood sugar.

Raw chard makes a nutritious addition to any salad or smoothie. This green is also delicious cooked. Sautee garlic in olive oil, toss in chard, tomatoes, and a dash of balsamic vinegar and you’ll have a delicious addition to any meal.

Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts have a horrible reputation, but that’s usually the result of overcooking them. This nutrient-dense vegetable is part of the wild cabbage family. Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, and folic acid. There is strong evidence that they may protect against cancer.

The key to cooking Brussels sprouts is to avoid overcooking them, lest they turn soggy. For a delicious dish, toss Brussels sprouts, cubed butternut squash, and fresh sage in olive oil and then roast in a 350-degree oven until veggies are soft and golden. For a decadent twist, add a splash of brown-butter sage sauce.

Bok Choy: Bok choy is a member of the cabbage family and is commonly used in Chinese cooking. It is sometimes referred to as white cabbage; it has white stalks and large, loose leaves. Bok choy is low in calories and high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium.

Bok choy is often prepared in Asian stir fry dishes. It is delicious stir fried with sesame oil, garlic, and tofu.

You can enjoy delicious greens even at the height of a white winter. Bon apetit!