Best of Winter Greens

December 22, 2016

Winter is here and with freezing temperatures around the country your shoppers will be looking for hearty, healthy foods to nourish and satisfy.

Delicious and healthy greens are available throughout the year, but winter is typically when the adventurous dark leafy green bounty is at its peak. There’s so much to choose from: Swiss chard, kale, and collards thrive in winter, as do beet, turnip, and mustard greens. 

Why is this particular season great for these greens? Some types of greens simply thrive with cooler weather. The Brassica family encompasses a variety of cruciferous vegetables, including kale, collards, arugula and bok choy. Their growth is nurtured by the cold, and the more frosts they enjoy, the sweeter their leaves.

Winter greens are full of health promoting qualities. Cruciferous vegetables, in particular, release compounds when chopped or chewed that researchers believe activate detoxifying enzymes in the liver. In turn, these enzymes may neutralize free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of various cancers as well as general inflammation in the body.

Remember not to overcook your greens. Quick-cooking techniques preserve the texture, color and flavor of greens - not to mention the nutritional quality. Here’s a quick overview of five of SupermarketGuru¹s favorites:

Beet Green, yes the tops of the beetroot! They are deliciously delicate to the taste and have smooth, thin leaves and an earthy flavor.

Dandelion Greens have a pleasantly bitter flavor. The larger and older the leaves, the stronger and tougher they will be. Dandelion, cultivated specifically for eating, grows longer leaves and is tenderer than its wild cousin.

Escarole is a slightly bitter member of the chicory family with broad, ruffled leaves. It can be eaten cooked or raw. It’s particularly good in soups and stews.

Mustard Greens come in different varieties that range in size, shape and sharpness. Large-leafed mustards tend to be sweeter than those loosely formed into heads, which have a pungent bite. Small, curled mustards have the hottest, spiciest flavor.

Turnip Greens are rarely eaten raw. They boast rich flavor when slowly braised and are often mixed with collard and mustard greens.

With such a variety of greens this winter, it¹s no excuse not to get you vegetables! Experiment and enjoy.