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Leafy Greens



Includes: kale, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, stinging nettles, bok choi, tat soi, napa cabbage, arugula, chicory, collards, dandelion greens and watercress as well as the more familiar lettuce.


Nutritional information:

Green vegetable are the most nutritious of all foods, and are typically high in calcium, vitamin A (beta carotene), vitamin C, many of the B vitamins, and iron.  Greens are low in calories, sodium, and fat but high in fiber.  They are abundant in calcium to the extent that they can be eaten as the primary source of this much needed mineral.


These very low in Cholesterol. They are also a good source of Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese.


The most nutritious greens are arugula, chicory, collards, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens and watercress.  Most lettuces are relatively low in nutritional value by comparison to these greens.  Generally, the greener the vegetable, the more nutritious it is.


All Chinese greens are suitable for salads or in cooking, especially stir fries. All are high in beta carotene and Vitamin C and an excellent source of folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. The darker the leaf, the more beta carotene it contains.


Storage information

Do NOT wash your greens until you are ready to use them.  Store them in a plastic container or bag in your refrigerator, as you would lettuce.  To preserve freshness and avoid plastic, try wrapping in wet paper towel or reuseable cloth produce bag.  Best kept in the crisper (refrigerator drawer).  If leaves start to wilt, soak in cold water to rehydrate. One CSA member puts lettuce in a plastic bag, compresses it to squeeze all the air out and swears it keeps longest that way. 


Greens are most nutritious if used within a few days of picking although they do keep well for a week or so refrigerated.  Wash leaves submerging in cold water before using them.  These vegetables tend to retain grit from the ground they were grown in and some may require two or three washings.


Fun food facts:


Chinese Cabbages:

Bok choy is a delicate leaf-stalk vegetable that is cultivated mainly in China, Korea, Japan, and the US. Bok choi does not form a closed head, and resembles Swiss Chard in appearance and taste. It is a white-stalked cabbage with dark green leaves; and, because it does not travel well, it is seldom exported by the Asian countries, where it is widely grown. It is now cultivated on an increasing scale in the West. Its nutritional value is twice that of white cabbage, with the leaf-ribs being the highest in nutrients. It is delicious eaten raw, steamed, or stir-fried; but is unsuitable for dishes requiring a long cooking time.

Chinese cabbage is the name used for both this type and bok choy. Choy sum is also known as flowering bok choy and flowering white cabbage. For all the confusing names, Chinese cabbage really is Chinese, and it really is a cabbage. It originated in China with the earliest date, having been discovered of around the 5th century CE. No wild cabbage has ever been found. It is probably a cross which occurred naturally in cultivation, likely between the southern pak choy and the norther turnip. Contemporary varieties are primarily Japanese hybrids, although the vegetable did not reach Japan until the 1860s; and breeding did not begin until the 1920s. Choy sum has green oval leaves and small yellow flowers that blossom between the broad oval leaves. Either the shoot tips with the edible flowers are harvested or the entire plant is picked. Both are prepared in a similar fashion to broccoli.

Tatsoi is a pretty plant with an unsightly nickname of "flat cabbage". It is a variety which grows only a couple of inches high, but whose rosettes grow in the shape of a plate that can spread over an area up to a foot or more in diameter. It is able to withstand frost so flourishes in the region of Shanghai. The leaves are rounded, and the leaf stalks are green and celery-like. Like other bok choys, it is harvested in many sizes. It is tougher and stronger tasting than other bok choy, but cooking mellows this. The young plants with small leaves surrounding the central rosette are best and is considered to have an exceptionally good flavor.

What are dark green leafy vegetables?

Dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. They also are great sources of fiber. The darker leaves have even more of these important nutrients. Some common dark green leafy vegetables are:

Swiss Chard, which tastes similar to spinach, is rich in vitamins K, C, and calcium. Swiss chard is best eaten raw in salads, or stir-fried.


Chicory, which has a slightly bitter flavor, is rich in vitamins K, C, and calcium. Chicory is best eaten with other greens in salad, or in soups and pasta sauces.

Collard Greens, which has an earthy spinachy flavor, is rich in vitamin A and calcium. Collard greens are best if you boil briefly and then add to soups or stir-fry.
Arugula, which has a peppery taste, is rich in vitamins A, C, and calcium. Arugula is best eaten raw in salads, or in stir-fry, soups, and pasta sauces.
Dandelion Greens, which has a bitter tangy flavor, is rich in vitamin A and calcium. Dandelion greens are best eaten raw in salads or steamed.
Kale, which has a slightly bitter cabbage-like flavor, is rich in vitamin A, C, calcium, folic acid, and potassium. Kale is best eaten in soups, stir-fry and sauces.


Mustard Greens, which has a hot spicy flavor, is rich in vitamin A, C and calcium. Mustard greens are best eaten raw in salads, or in stir-fry and soups.

Spinach, which has an earthy sweet flavor, is rich in vitamin A, C, iron and calcium. Spinach is best eaten raw in salads or steamed.
Different leafy green vegetables provide different amounts of nutrients. Here is a chart with the amount of calcium, fiber, and iron in a 1/2 cup serving of each chopped raw green: 





Swiss Chard

9.2 mg

0.3 g

0.3 mg


90 mg

3.6 g

0.8 mg

Collard Greens

26 mg

0.7 g

0.1 mg


16 mg

0.2 g

0.2 mg

Dandelion Greens

51 mg

1.0 g

0.9 mg


45 mg

0.7 g

0.6 mg

Mustard Greens

29 mg

0.9 g

0.4 mg


15 mg

0.4 g

0.4 mg


Simple From Scratch:

1) Chop and steam.  Can flavor with vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper if desired.  Can add to a casserole or pasta dish.


2) sauté garlic in oil, add chopped greens and cover to cook over a low heat.  Can add salt and pepper (or cayenne pepper).  Optional:  stir in a tbs. of vinegar or lemon juice after cooking.  Many recipes suggest steaming (until almost tender—not fully cooked) or blanching greens in water (1 min.) before sautéing. 


Or try chopping, simmer in heavy skillet with little water up to 15 minutes.  Dress with: tahini, lemon juice, soy sauce, and raisins.


3) Blanch the greens unchopped in boiling water for 1 min.  Drain and refresh in a bowl of ice water.  When cool, squeeze out water.  Chop finely. Heat oil, fry a tbp. of sesame seeds until golden.  Stir in chopped greens and toss 1-2 min. Season with salt and cayenne.  Serve hot, sprinkled with a few tbp of orange juice.  Try this with swiss chard or a mixture of collards and spinach (from: Yamuna’s Table cookbook)


4) Heat ¼ cup flavored vinegar and garlic in saucepan. Add (1 lb.) greens.  Cook until wilted.  Add ¼ water, cover and cook gently 2 min., adding more water if necessary to keep from sticking.  Uncover, cook until water is gone.  Season with a pinch of cayenne and a tbp. of sesame seeds. (An African-American tradition from the American South, Vegetarian Times magazine).


5) Sopa Sobrino – This is a soup made from whatever you have in the kitchen.  One good combination is chopped greens, quartered or chopped potatoes (with skin), sliced leek or onion covered with water.  Add any or all of the following: 1 or 2 sliced carrots, 3 or 4 chopped stalks of celery, chopped tomatoes, small amount of cooked beans…Bring to a low boil a simmer until done, about half and hour or so.  Add salt and pepper or soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos for taste.


Can substitute rice or pasta for the potatoes but if this is already cooked be sure to add it at the end when the vegetables are almost done.


6) To get the most nutrition from your greens, juice a leaf or two (raw of course) with carrot and apple in your juicer.




For green lovers I like to share this:

I have been making green smoothies about a year now and love what is happening to my total health, from regulating my appetite to exceptional vitality and energy to the complements on how young I look.  And I think its from these smoothies I make first thing in am:

Basically just mix in any green with some water or and some soaked almond or other raw nuts and blend it. I usually include celery and cucumber to make it more tasty and refreshing and usually I have some germinated seeds as well to add to my concoction. 

From Susan N.


Winter Greens and Potatoes

1 lb. mixed greens (mustard, collard, kale, escarole)

2 medium size potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, quartered and thinly sliced

1 tbsp. virgin olive oil

1-2 small dried chili peppers, seeds removed, torn into pieces

2  medium sized fresh tomatoes, chopped; or 1 16 oz. can drained and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper


Remove any leaves from greens that are yellow or wilted and remove any tough fibrous stems.  Chop the leaves, rinse them well and set aside.  Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, for 5-7 minutes.   Remove with a slotted spoon.  Add greens to hot potato water and boil 2-3 minutes until tender.  Drain.


Warm olive oil over medium heat in a wide, nonstick skillet and add chilis or red pepper flakes.  When the oil is hot, add potatoes, stir to coat them well and cook for one minute.  Add greens, tomatoes and garlic.  Continue cooking for another five minutes or so, breaking up the potatoes with a wooden spoon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


Makes a kind of hash.  Can also use beet greens, turnip tops, broccoli rabe, dandelion greens, spinach or chard but may need to use a shorter cooking time with more tender greens.  Serves 4



Pasta with Greens

Boil a large pot of water.  Add enough chopped up greens for two large servings (several large handfuls)/  Boil for 5 min.  Meanwhile, in a medium skillet or small saucepan heat 4 tbs. olive oil (or enough to coat the pasta), sauté 2 cloves finely chopped garlic, red pepper flakes (optional ½ tsp. anchovy paste)and a small plum tomato or two if available.  Remove the greens from water with a slotted spoon and add to the garlic and oil.  Put ½ lb. Spaghetti into the still boiling water.  Add 1-2 tbs. of the water to the oil and cover the smaller pan.  Cook greens over low heat while pasta boils.


When pasta is done, top with greens mixture.  Add freshly grated parmesan and/or fresh grated white pepper.