Greens Cooking Guide

Greens Cooking Guide

How to prepare and cook nutrient-packed greens.

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Dark leafy greens, such as kale, collards and chard, are nutrient powerhouses—rich in vitamins A, C and K—so it's not surprising that the Dietary Guidelines suggest getting plenty of them. Look for greens in bunches in the produce section near lettuce. Beets are sometimes sold with the greens still attached, but you can often find the greens sold separately as well. Greens are easy to cook: just blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then sauté with a little garlic and olive oil—then add a splash of vinegar or squeeze of lemon juice to balance their bitter flavor.

The following assumes starting with 1 pound of greens. Nutrition info does not include oil or other additions.

Here are some of our favorites:

Beet Greens

Prep: Cut stems 1 inch above beet crown. Trim long stems from large leaves; discard blemished leaves. Wash in several changes of water; drain. Cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces.

Cooking: Very tender leaves can be cooked like spinach. Cook larger mature leaves, covered, in a wide pot of 2 cups lightly salted boiling water just until wilted, about 5 minutes. Drain and press out moisture. Be aware that beet greens, like beets, will bleed and discolor accompanying foods.

Yield: 2 servings, about 1/2 cup each

Nutrition per serving: 19 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber; 343 mg sodium.

Collards

Prep: Pull the leaves from the tough ribs and stems; discard stems. Wash in several changes of water; drain. Cut leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Cooking: Cook, covered, in 2 cups lightly salted boiling water until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and press out moisture.

Yield: 4 servings, about 1/2 cup each

Nutrition per serving: 31 calories; 1 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 4 g fiber; 239 mg sodium.

Kale

Prep: Strip leaves from stems; discard stems. Wash in several changes of water; drain. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

Cooking: Cook large, tough leaves, covered, in 2 cups lightly salted boiling water until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and press out moisture. Small tender leaves can be steamed in a covered skillet with a little water until wilted.

Yield: 4 servings, about 1/2 cup each

Nutrition per serving: 18 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 168 mg sodium.

Mustard Greens

Prep: Trim and discard long stems. Wash in several changes of water; drain. Bunch up leaves and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Cooking: Cook large, mature leaves, covered, in 2 cups lightly salted boiling water until tender, 10 to 12 minutes (add more water if needed). Small, tender leaves can be steamed or stir-fried until wilted. Drain and press out moisture.

Yield: 4 servings, about 1/2 cup each

Nutrition per serving: 14 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 2 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber; 196 mg sodium.

Spinach

Prep: Trim stems. Wash leaves in several changes of water. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

Cooking: Tender spinach cooks in 1 to 3 minutes. Cook in a steamer basket over an inch of boiling water. Drain excess moisture. Or steam, covered, in a large pot with just the rinse water clinging to the leaves.

Yield: 2 servings, about 1/2 cup each

Nutrition per serving: 21 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 63 mg sodium.

Swiss Chard

Prep: Wash in several changes of water; drain. Strip large leaves from the edible stems. Pull strings from stems; cut stems crosswise into 1-inch lengths. Bunch up leaves and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Cooking: Cook in 2 cups lightly salted boiling water. Add stems first and cook for 5 minutes, then add leaves. Full-size leaves cook in about 10 minutes. Steam young leaves for 5 minutes. Drain and press out moisture.

Yield: 4 servings, about 1/2 cup each

Nutrition per serving: 18 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber; 363 mg sodium.

By EatingWell.com. © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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