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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 29, 2014

Healthy Bites: Show me some greens

By DEE SANDQUIST, Hy-Vee dietitian | Mar 21, 2013

What is in season and goes great with your March Madness pizza gatherings? Spring greens!

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

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 & K, folic acid, magnesium, antioxidants and phytonutrients that may provide protection against cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis and also promote vision health.

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.

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

Start with a base of bagged garden garden mix lettuce or 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 lemon-basil or red wine-oregano vinaigrette for just the right touch.

Here is an easy way to prepare your favorite spring greens with a delicious homemade vinaigrette.

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.

The traditional ratio is 3 to 4 parts oil to 1 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 is increased and is diluted with a few tablespoons of water to offset some of the calories from the oil.

The touch of honey or clear agave nectar also produces a little thicker consistency to help the dressing cling to the salad.

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 (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 blends of other herbs and spices of your choice.

Recommended ratio – You need about one tablespoon vinaigrette for 2 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

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

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

All you do:

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.

Tips:

• 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.

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