Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Think Green for Spring

As we approach the warmer weather of spring, which has seemed so long in coming this year, the color green comes to mind. I noticed a "green" display at our local supermarket as I entered the produce section.

The table contained green grapes, green cabbage, and pineapple with their green tops. To carry it further, they could have added limes and Granny Smith apples. Then in another section, I found various types of lettuce, celery, endive, green peppers, parsley and broccoli.

A magazine on display at the store announced "Go Green" and "Enjoy Fresh Spring Recipes." This got me thinking about the healthy foods we can enjoy this time of year (or any time of year) that are green"whether they're fresh or frozen.

Green Leafy Vegetables
These are the ones generally known as "salad greens," although we can use some of them steamed or tossed in a pan for a few minutes with olive oil and vinegar. Most are rich in Vitamins A, C, and K. They may contain iron, minerals and fiber.

For those concerned about memory loss, one study has associated the dark, leafy greens containing folate with slowing down this decline. When selecting greens, remember that the darkest ones generally are highest in nutrients.

(Incidentally, when our grandchildren had guinea pigs, I noticed the little critters went for the dark greens before the lighter ones or white stalk ends. Do they instinctively know something?)

When I was growing up, we had to wait for spring to find greens in the wild, like dandelions and dock greens. Next were lettuce and other greenery from the garden. Nowadays, you'll find them in stores year round.

But I Don't Like Salads!

If someone in your family doesn't like salads, try including greens in the diet through other recipes.

*Use endive as a sandwich wrap. Instead of flat or pita bread, spread your sandwich ingredients on a large piece of endive and roll it for a wrapped sandwich.

*Make cabbage rolls. Use the ingredients you would for stuffed green peppers. Roll this mixture in large, green cabbage leaves. Bake as you would the green peppers.

SPINACH SALAD (You can substitute any type of salad greens for the spinach or use a combination.) Mix together 1 pound spinach, torn into small pieces, 4-8 ounces (as you desire) of fresh sliced mushrooms, and 6-8 slices crisp bacon crumbled. Serve with your favorite dressing.

(You can use smaller quantities and make an individual salad with these ingredients, too.)


Fresh asparagus is a favorite green vegetable for Jim and me. Usually we cook it in a microwave steamer, then serve with butter or low fat Italian dressing. However, you can bake it or serve with cream sauce.

Steam 1 to 11/2 pounds asparagus until slightly tender. Lay in buttered baking dish. Drizzle with 6 tablespoons virgin olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, depending on how much cheese you like. Bake at 300 degrees for 6-10 minutes, until asparagus is tender.

(You also can use cheese other than Parmesan.)

(c) Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen writes from her woodland home in NH. She also writes about Alzheimer's, quiltmaking, and Civil War research and gives workshops on all these topics. )