Show me some greens for the springtime

Published 8:20 am Sunday, March 10, 2013

Column: Dietitian Speaks, by Amy Pleimling

Spring is the season for edible greens like collards, Swiss chard, bok choy, spinach, arugula, mustard greens and many more.

Amy Pleimling

Amy Pleimling

Spring greens are a nutritional gift of nature that provide multiple health benefits. Health experts agree that greens are a gold mine of nutrients, including vitamins A and K, folic acid, magnesium, antioxidants and phytonutrients that may provide protection against cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis and also promote vision health.

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When selecting greens, look for brightly colored, crisp leaves. Yellow leaves may indicate aging leaves with an unpleasant flavor. For convenience, grab a bag of pre-washed, pre-cut greens. Your local Hy-Vee produce department has a wide variety of bagged greens available for your convenience.

Discover how easy it is to create great-tasting and healthful meals with spring greens.

Start with a base of Dole Tender Garden mix or Dole Spring mix. Add some grilled chicken or fish, a handful of nuts, more brightly colored vegetables and some berries to top your salad for a complete meal. Drizzle with your own homemade vinaigrette dressing (like a lemon-basil or red wine-oregano vinaigrette) for just the right touch.


How to make your own vinaigrette:

• Vinaigrettes are a combination of oil and an acidic liquid, such as vinegar, citrus juice or wine, with herbs and spices for flavor.

• Often they include an emulsifier (an ingredient that combines substances that normally do not mix) such as mustard, to help prevent the oil and acid from separating.

• Use extra virgin olive oil (purest and most intensely flavored), assorted vinegars (balsamic, red wine, rice wine), citrus juice (fresh-squeezed lemon, lime or orange juice), or wine (our certified wine specialist recommends an unoaked chardonnay, a red pinot grigio or a viognier).

• Try different herb and spice blends for a variety of delicious flavors: Italian seasoning, lemon pepper, various Mrs. Dash blends or other herbs and spices of your choice.

• The traditional ratio is three to four parts oil to one part vinegar. For example: 3/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup vinegar or citrus juice — which makes the mixture very high in calories from the oil.

• In this recipe, the amount of acidic liquid has been increased and also diluted with a few tablespoons of water to offset some of the calories from the oil. You also want to have enough body (viscosity or thickness) so the dressing is not too watery. The touch of honey or clear agave nectar also produces a little thicker consistency to help the dressing cling to the salad.

• Recommended ratio: You need about one tablespoon vinaigrette for two cups salad greens. Remember to add the vinaigrette gradually, toss and taste. You can always add more dressing if you like.


Make-your-own vinaigrette

All you need:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

1/2 cup acidic liquid (vinegar, citrus juice or wine)

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon minced shallot or onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon honey or clear agave nectar, optional

2 teaspoons dried herbs

½ teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

All you do:

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.


• Add 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard as an emulsifier if desired.

• Try assorted herbs and spices for a variety of tasty flavors. Some delicious ideas include oregano, rosemary, parsley, Italian blends, lemon pepper, etc.

• Store in refrigerator for up to three days.

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.


Amy Pleimling is the dietitian for the Hy-Vee grocery store in Albert Lea.