Go Green for Cancer Prevention
Saint Patrick’s day is coming up, and of course you’ll remember to wear green. In celebration, why not dress your plate with greens too? Most folks are familiar with "leafy greens" like spinach and deep green colored lettuces, but there are plenty others to choose from, such as:
- Bok choy
- Mustard greens
- Mesclun (a salad mix)
These funny-sounding greens pack a mean, green punch when it comes to fighting cancer with nutrition. Evidence shows that consuming non-starchy vegetables, like dark-colored leafy greens, may protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and stomach while providing fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.
Beta-carotene is a particularly powerful antioxidant found in dark leafy greens. As a rule of thumb, the greater the intensity of the color of a vegetable, the more beta-carotene it contains. Because this is a fat-soluble fat plant chemical, cooking beta-carotene rich vegetables in a small amount of oil can increase beta-carotene’s bioavailability – the chance the body will be able to absorb it in the small intestine.
Not sure how to cook with dark green leafy vegetables? This recipe can be used in many ways. Try this simple leafy green sauté as a part of your New American Plate.
Simple Leafy Green Sauté
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 1/2 lb. leafy greens (kale, chard, or collard greens)
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
Chop the garlic and onions, and then set aside – research shows that allowing garlic to stand for 15-20 minutes before cooking can help retain its health-beneficial enzymes.
With a knife, remove and discard very tough or damaged end portions of the greens – keep the majority of the stems attached. "Core" the center portion of the greens, then chop the leaf cores and stems into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Roll the leaves into a tube shape, about 3 at a time, and cut lengthwise to create thin 1" ribbons.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, black pepper, and green stems and cores. Heat, covered, for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent. Add the leaves and cook, covered, another 3-5 minutes until stems are tender and leaves are wilted and brightly colored. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan if it seems like the leaves are getting too dry.
Add salt to taste.
You can eat this dish on its own, or use it to spice up other dishes:
- Whisk it into eggs for an omelet
- Mix it into a broth for a simple soup
- Toss with cooked whole grain pasta
- Mix with chickpeas for a simple side-dish
Makes 4 servings; Each serving equals about 1 cup
Per Serving: 65 calories, 4 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 7 g carbohydrate,
2 g protein, 1.5 g dietary fiber, 25 mg sodium
Watch our video to see how easy it is to cook leafy green vegetables.
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