We’ve been told for years to eat our vegetables and for a good reason: There is continuous evidence of the health benefits that a plant-base diet provides, including looking more beautiful!
Dark, leafy greens are a particular nutritional standout. Eating a spinach salad and other dark leafy greens delivers a bonanza of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Calorie for calorie, dark, leafy greens are one the most concentrated sources of nutrition. They are rich in minerals (iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium) and vitamins (K, C, E and some B vitamins), and they provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene and lutein.
Lutein, for example, is well established as being beneficial for eye health. But there is mounting evidence that the nutrient decreases the risk of wrinkles, as well as cancer. Dark leafy greens are the richest sources of lutein, in particular kale, collard greens, cooked spinach and Swiss Chard. Lutein is also plentiful in parsley, chicory, mustard greens, beet greens, romaine lettuce and endive.
How to Buy and Store Greens
Just like you don’t want rust on our car, you don’t want them on your greens either. Pass by any greens with brown spots, yellowing edges or limp looking leaves. Instead, look for crisp, perky greens with vibrant hues of green, especially in the wonderful Swiss chard varieties.
When we buy greens at the grocery store, they are often wet. Do not store them wet in a plastic bag or the greens will rot. Vegetables need air and a little moisture to survive. If your greens are very wet when purchased, pat them dry with a paper towel and store in a perforated bag. The residual moisture on the greens in a perforated bag will be enough to keep them for several days.
Beautifying Sautéed Swiss Chard Recipe
Start with one bunch or a half pound of fresh Swiss chard. With a knife, remove and discard any tough or damaged end portions along with the thick core or center stem portion of the greens. Stack the leaves into a tube shape, about three at a time, and cut lengthwise to create thin 1" ribbons.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic and cook for about 2 minutes on medium heat, just until the garlic begins to become light golden. Then, immediately add chard and toss. Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, season with ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste.
Cook uncovered for three to five minutes, stirring frequently until chard leaves are tender and wilted but still brightly colored. Remove and serve.
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