Each month, the North Country Region of Eat Smart NY chooses a locally-grown fruit, vegetable or other food group to feature as its “Harvest of the Month” — providing nutritional information about that ingredient, as well as tips for purchasing or preparing it. The Harvest of the Month for May 2018 is salad greens!
Why Salad Greens Are So Great
Salad greens — like butterhead, green leaf, red leaf, romaine, and iceberg — are an excellent source of vitamin K, which works with calcium to help build strong bones. Many kinds of lettuce are also rich in vitamin A, which can help improve eyesight.
Romaine lettuce contains folate and fiber, two heart-healthy nutrients shown to reduce one’s risk of stroke and heart disease and reduce LCL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, respectively.
How much do you need? Salad greens and other vegetables are important for children and adults to have each day. It’s recommended that children ages 5-12 have between 2½ and 5 cups of vegetables per day, and teens and adults should have between 4½ and 6½ cups per day. In general, 1 cup of salad greens is about the size of two cupped handfuls.
When shopping for salad greens, look for lettuce heads that are tight and firm. Look for darker colored leaves, because they have more nutrients! Be sure to wash and dry salad greens immediately after you buy them.
Once washed, place your salad greens in a plastic bag with small holes and store them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, depending on the variety.
Healthy Serving Ideas
Since there are many kinds of salad greens, there are many different ways to incorporate them into your meals! Try adding salad greens to sandwiches and wraps for a quick and healthy meal.
Or, add greens with larger, tougher leaves — like collard greens, kale or mustard greens — into your favorite soup.
Try out this recipe to make “Spinach and Black Bean Salad” for your family!
Ingredients (makes 3 servings):
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
2 cups spinach (washed)
1½ cups canned black beans, low sodium
2 tomatoes (chopped)
1 small red onion (chopped)
1. In a large bowl, combine vinegar, oil, mustard, garlic, oregano, basil and nutmeg.
2. Wash, drain, and chop the spinach.
3. Add spinach, black beans, tomatoes and onions to vinegar and oil.
4. Toss well and serve.
Notes: Top your salad with other vegetables, like mushrooms, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, or red onions. Add cooked chicken, egg or tuna for more protein! Add cubes of cheddar, swiss, or smoked Gouda cheese. Fruit also makes a great addition — try dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, or apricots or fresh berries in season.