Yuma, Arizona is gearing up for the winter “leafy greens” growing season! This modest community in southern Arizona becomes widely known as the nation’s winter salad bowl from around November to March. That means that 90% of the nation’s vegetables for salads are grown right in Yuma, Arizona during the winter months. That makes Yuma County agriculture more than a $1.5 billion industry. Wow!
If there is one thing most of us could eat more of it is leafy greens. Packed with nutrition, these vegetables are at the core of a healthy diet. They provide a solid serving of fiber along with a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. Incorporating more leafy greens can help protect you from things like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. We find that one of main reasons people are not eating as many of these as they should is that a lot of us grew up on iceberg lettuce and carrots which means we aren’t always aware of all the options and we may not know how to use them. To help you get more leafy greens in your diet, here is some basic information about each of the most common types and some ways you can use them to fill your family’s plate.
No matter where you look these days, it seems like everyone is talking about kale. This leafy green that seems to have come out of nowhere is getting a lot of press because it is a powerhouse of nutrition including vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, and even calcium. Kale can be used in salads, on sandwiches, and even baked into chips. It has a more bitter taste than some of the lighter lettuces and comes in a range of colors including purple, green, and even black.
If you grew up in the South, you are likely familiar with these greens which offer similar nutritive value to kale but that have a different taste and texture. Collard greens have a cabbage-like flavor with a chewy texture. They make great replacements for tortillas or other wraps when making sandwiches because of their strong, wide leaves. They can be steamed, sautéed, and used in many of the same ways the other leafy greens are used.
This leafy green stands out from the others because of its brightly colored stalks and veins which can be red or come in a rainbow of colors. With a taste similar to beets, this leafy green is great in salads or when sautéed. It provides fiber and is a good source of vitamins A and C.
There is a reason Popeye believed spinach would make him strong to the finish. It is full of folate, vitamins A and C, and is actually better for you when it is cooked, unlike many other leafy greens. It can be used in salads and on sandwiches or steamed, sautéed, or added to many different dishes.