'Tis the Season to Eat Greens

By Sherrie Calles RD

Sometimes in the winter it seems like it’s more difficult to eat all the fruits and veggies that we know we should be eating. On cold days we crave warm, hearty meals and we might not think of fresh veggies, but in actuality, greens are just the thing for chilly days.

how to cook leafy green vegetables

For me, greens are a relatively new addition to my winter diet. I was the sixth child in a family of seven; born after my parents had given up on creative cooking. We ate the basics when it came to vegetables – corn, peas, beans, and carrots. It wasn’t until I met my now mother-in-law that I was introduced to the leafy greens and learned how to cook them.

As a parent myself now, here’s what I love about greens:

And, amazingly, my 4 and 9 year-old daughters love them, too! We never have leftovers when I cook greens. As a sensible dietitian, I couldn’t love that more.

How to Cook Greens

The most basic recipe for leafy greens includes a hot skillet, a little oil and the greens themselves, broken into 2-3 inch pieces and with the tough stems removed. The greens will shrink considerably as they cook, which means that you will be able to fit a lot in the pan, but you will need to add them in batches.

Start by adding several handfuls to hot oil – I generally use olive oil because it’s among the healthiest oils to consume. Stir or toss them, and as they shrink down add more until you have wilted them all. You can dress your greens up in lots of ways. Below are some of things I like to add, but feel free to be creative and make the dish your own.

  • Before adding the greens to the skillet, sauté diced onions, shallots, or garlic.
  • Add lemon juice or vinegar such balsamic, red wine, rice, or any other flavored vinegar you like.
  • Add fresh ground pepper.
  • Add fresh or dried herbs such as basil, cilantro, dried pepper flakes, etc.
  • For a nice bold flavor, add a few crumbles of bacon.

What is your favorite leafy green and how do you like to eat it?