Greens have trickled into the mainstream. In the Allrecipes.com food trends report for 2012, Kale Chips were one of the top eleven “What’s Hot” recipe searches (up 133%). Allrecipes.com Senior Communications Director Judith H. Dern called Kale Chips, “the gateway drug to adding this leafy green vegetable to every meal!”
What consumers do at Allrecipes.com is worth watching: it is the largest digital food brand in the world, averaging more than 30 million unique visitors each month and posting double-digit growth for the past seven years.
A related hot recipe search was for Green Smoothies, which typically includes greens like kale and spinach (up 90%). Adding greens to smoothies is a way to sneak them into the diet of people who don’t like such vegetables or to pack them into an on-the-go beverage.
I prefer to eat, not drink my kale and other greens, as you can see on a prior Kale Blog describes. I make my life easier with bagged or boxed ready-to-cook greens often.
One caught my eye and palate recently: a bag of “Power to the Greens”, at Trader Joe’s (TJ). It’s a mixture of organic baby kale, baby chard and baby spinach. A key benefit is it contains “baby” greens, small and tender enough to put in a salad or sauté without blanching, a technique I use to tenderize the more mature (i.e. tough, leathery) leaves.
Another tenderizing technique for mature kale leave made me laugh. An article in Cook’s Illustrated magazine (Reference 2) suggests giving kale leaves a rubdown. One cuts the leaves into 1/4-inch slices then kneads and squeezes them for 1 to 5 minutes, depending on the coarseness or variety of kale. The process works like heat to break down the cell walls and tenderize the leaves. Who has time to massage greens? I’ll look for the convenient baby greens that go straight in my salad bowl or skillet.
The word “power” is an attention grabber food marketers are mining. What does the word imply? In my mind it’s the nutrient content. The TJ Power to the Greens label states that one cup has 200% of the Daily Value for Vitamin A and 100% of the Daily Value for Vitamin C. Leafy greens are also super sources for magnesium, potassium, beta carotene, lutein and vitamin K (Reference 1). Another article in the same Nutrition Action Healthletter (Reference 3) quotes USDA plant physiologist Gene Lester saying that the young baby green leaves are even more nutritious than the mature leaves.
Keep in mind when planning meals that greens” cook down” considerably.
The 5-ounce bag of TJ Power to the Greens says it contains only 1.5 servings. Another tip is to remove the stems before cooking if you want a more refined salad or dish.
Looking for a new way to serve greens I recently added them to a pizza. I sautéed the greens with red onion, olive oil and Italian herbs while the pizza cooked then spread on the warm sautéed greens just before serving. (The greens don’t go in the oven or they would scorch.)
You don’t need a recipe – get creative with your favorite pizza toppings. I spread a thin base of tomato sauce on a homemade cornmeal pizza dough, topped it with black olive tapenade and a layer of cheese (flavorful pecorino mixed with mozzarella) and baked it until done, then topped with the warm greens just before serving. While not needed, you could gild the greens with a handful of freshly shredded parmesan.
Powerfully good and healthful.
1. You Say Tomato…Scoring Veggies by Bonnie Liebman & Jayne Hurley. Nutrition Action Healthletter, October 2012 p. 13-15.
2. Cooks Illustrated Magazine, November & December 2012 p. 30.
3. Veggie Smart, How to preserve vitamins. Nutrition Action Healthletter, October 2012 p. 10-11.
Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2012