Trying to eat healthier and getting my kids to eat healthier is sometimes an uphill battle. So when my son showed an interest and love for leafy greens I was thrilled! What a great way to incorporate healthy eating into every meal.
There are some great health benefits to eating leafy greens, kale and butter lettuce. Leafy green vegetables are high in vitamin K which is needed for proper bone formation and to help your body clot blood. Kale is loaded with many nutrients and 1 cup of kale provides more than 100% of the daily value of vitamins A, C & K! Lettuce is low in sodium and very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, so it makes for a great snack or addition to any meal. Butter lettuce also contains mildly anti-inflammatory properties.
Since we don’t have a garden, we buy our leafy greens in store. Since we are not planting and harvesting these greens ourselves, there are certain guidelines and precautions that we should take to make sure that food is handled and prepared properly. Here is a checklist for you to follow when handling your leafy greens:
- Check to make sure the leafy greens are fresh and are refrigerated at the store.
- Chill greens within 2 hours of purchasing.
- Clean your hands and ALL surfaces before handling the greens. Never use detergents to wash the greens. Wash leafy greens under cool, running tap water. Package leafy greens labeled “ready to eat”, “washed”, or “triple-washed” need not be washed.
- Seperate leafy greens from raw meat, poultry or sea food in your refrigerator and don’t use the same cutting board. Cook or throw away leafy greens that come into their contact.
- Throw away leafy greens that have been sitting in your fridge for a long time.
Here are some great recipes to incorporate leafy greens into your meals.
Butter Lettuce Bundles with Thai Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salad
This versatile recipe can be served as a deconstructed salad in fun individual lettuce bundles, or even as fresh, healthy lettuce wraps your guests can build themselves at a buffet-style party. The creamy taste of butter lettuce is a perfect complement to the Thai vinaigrette. More great recipes can be found at www.safeleafygreens.com.
Prep time: 20 minutes ~ Makes 6 servings
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp lemongrass paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tbsp Thai fish sauce
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 large mango peeled and cut into thin strips
½ small red onion, sliced very thin
1½ cups grape tomato halves
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and cut into wedges
6 butter lettuce leaves
1. Combine cayenne pepper, garlic, lemongrass paste, sugar, sunflower oil, fish sauce and lime juice in a serving bowl.
2. In a serving bowl, toss together mango, onion, tomatoes and herbs. Gently, mix in avocado. Add in vinaigrette and toss gently to distribute. Spread butter leaves over serving platter and top with mango salad. Serve salad immediately.
Baked Kale Chips Spiked with Chili Parmesan Garlic Salt
Kale is a super healthy leafy green vegetable. Baking kale into a crunchy, chip-style snack will have you munching through bunch after bunch, guaranteed! Kale bunches vary in size and produce anywhere from 12 to 16 cups (3 to 4 L) of bite-sized kale pieces. This recipe is for 12 cups (3 L) of uncooked kale (serving size reduces when cooked).
Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes ~ Cooking time: 8 to 12 minutes ~ Makes 4 to 6 cups (1 to 1.5 L)
1 medium bunch kale, washed and dried
1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
½ tsp crushed chili flakes
2 to 3tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
2. Tear off washed bite-sized kale leaves from hard stems and place in large plastic bag.
3. Whisk together garlic, chili flakes and oil. Drizzle oil mixture over kale, hold bag closed and shake to coat kale leaves as evenly as possible. Do this in two batches if needed.
4. Lightly spray a sheet pan with oil. Spread each kale leaf out flat on pan. Crowd leaves but do not overlap.
5. Bake in oven for 8 to 12 minutes. Kale is done when leaves are dark green and crisp. Do not let kale turn brown. Transfer kale to a rack to cool and repeat with remaining kale.
6. Serve kale in a large bowl. If there are leftovers, store in a sealed container and keep at room temperature for up to a week.
Do your kids enjoy leafy green vegetables? Does your family have a favorite leafy green recipe? I’d love to hear it!