Eat your greens

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We know kale is the “It” green right now, and we do love it, but there are a variety of other delicious and nutritious leafy greens available this time of year that are worth checking out.

Beet greens, chard, mustard greens, collards, sorrel, bok choy — the list goes on and on.

greens2Often called “winter greens,” these hardy cultivars are closely related to cabbage and thrive as the temperatures get cooler. Leafy greens are a great low-calorie source of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals like beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K and calcium.

If you have avoided leafy greens because of their bitter reputation, it is time to give them another chance. Those bitter compounds are actually disease-fighting phytochemicals like polyphenols, flavonoids, glucosinolates and betalains.

When shopping for greens, look for brightly colored, crisp leaves free of blemishes or wilting. Avoid any that are heavily yellowed or have slimy edges. Smaller bunches are often more tender and less bitter. To maximize freshness, wrap the stem ends in a damp paper towel, loosely bag in plastic and store in the fridge. Make sure to wash greens well before cooking to remove any sand or grit.

Hot Leafy Greens Dip

Greens DipRecipe by by Carrie Hirsch | Serves 6-8

Any leafy green works well with this dip, but avoid using any tough, thick stems. Baby spinach is simply spinach that has been harvested earlier, which offers a smaller, more delicate leaf that is ideal for salads. For cooking, regular spinach works just fine. No need to add salt since the Parmesan brings in the saltiness.

1 cup evaporated milk
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 large handfuls chopped greens, steamed and excess water pressed out
1 jalapeño, minced (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons sautéed onions, chopped
2 green onions, minced
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 slices crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, chopped and drained
Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together evaporated milk, cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Butter a 6-cup baking dish and bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 30-35 minutes. Serve hot with chips, crackers or toast points.

cheeftp jan