In our global economy your local grocery store is filled with fresh produce all year round. It is easy to forget that fruits and vegetables have specific growing seasons. Even though we can often buy anything we want at any time, getting produce locally and in season often means we are buying vegetables at their peak of freshest and flavor. Buying in season is also easier on the pocketbook, something many of us are interested in.
The fall brings out the greens. Dark, leafy green vegetables like the cooler growing seasons. Think Swiss chard, spinach and kale. These vegetables are the powerhouses of the nutrition world. They are filled with vitamins A and C which are important in protecting our eyesight, immune system and skin and for vitamin C are which aids in iron absorption, immune function and helps in protein metabolism. They also contain magnesium, potassium, iron and fiber. Eating more potassium can help you control your blood pressure. But beyond providing necessary vitamins and minerals the leafy greens have been linked with reduction in cancer rates.
The American Institute of Cancer Research has indicated that foods containing carotenoids probably protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx. The leafy greens are loaded with these nutrients, from lutein and zeaxanthin, to the saponins and flavonoids. These substances act as antioxidants in the body. They scour the body for free radicals, which are unstable particles produced through normal metabolism that can do damage to healthy cells, and render them harmless.
Like all non-starchy vegetables the leafy greens are low in calories and carbohydrate, kale for example has only 33 calories and 6 grams of carb per cup while providing 133 percent of vitamin A and 134 percent of vitamin C daily requirements. Swiss chard is only 35 calories and 7 gram of carb per cup. Most greens can be boiled, steamed, stir-fried or roasted. Escarole or kale adds a rustic, hearty touch to soups and stews. Members of the chicory family such as curly endive or frisee can be added to salads. Be careful though, chicory greens tend to be bitter so they need a sweet or savory foil such as onions or carrots for contrast. So move beyond your usual comfort zone and check out the leafy greens in the produce aisle the next time you are in the supermarket.
And in case the leafy greens arenâ€™t your cup of tea, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts are wonderfully healthful fall vegetables with which to fill one-half of your plate.
Try this recipe from Cooking Light.