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As the summer season approaches and the temperatures increase, incorporating salads into our diets is one of the best ways to stay cool, satiated and healthy.  Lucky for us, there are several leafy greens to choose from so you’ll never feel bored.  If you’ve been following the #GrowUpYummy blog, we’ve covered a variety of topics including healthy eating habits for your little ones.  Because our kids love to eat what we eat, try to introduce some of the greens below to increase nutrient intake and variety.   While they may not say “yes” right away, having them help you meal prep by touching, feeling and cleaning the greens is a great way to educate them.  Also, encourage them to try the final recipe but let them be the judge. For example, asking them to try just one bite is always a good start because they know you aren’t forcing them to commit to eating them!

Here’s a list of the most nutritious leafy greens:

1. Collard Greens

Collard Greens are considered a staple vegetable to Southern U.S. cuisine.  Studies have demonstrated positive effects between the consumption of collard greens and cholesterol.  At Yummy Spoonfuls, we’re big believers of food as medicine.  Not only do collard greens help lower cholesterol due to their high fiber content but they also contain Vitamin K, Vitamin C and Leafy GreensBeta-carotene.  Because the texture of collard greens is a little tougher, they need to be cooked longer and with less heat (i.e. steaming, braising).

2. Microgreens

Microgreens are completely under the radar. They’re just not a leafy green we hear too much about but they’re tasty, versatile and nutritious. Microgreens contain Vitamin C and E (antioxidant) — both especially important for immune health. One of the best ways to consume micro greens is to throw it in or on top of foods. They’re leafy, thin and easy to pack into a sandwich, an omelet or even a wrap.  If you’re encouraging flavor variety, you could pack it into a food processor with a few other simple ingredients such as shallots, garlic and lemon juice to make a chunky sauce.

3. Chard

Chard comes in two varieties – Swiss chard and Rainbow chard — and are especially popular in the spring.  Research has demonstrated that chard is one of the most “powerful” leafy greens and by that we mean rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.  If you’re keen on seasonal produce, now’s a great time to snag some chard!  Apparently Swiss chard chips are in line for the next trend – move over Kale!


4. Watercress

This leafy green apparently has four times more beta carotene in comparison to an apple not to mention Vitamin K.  Due to its similarity in texture to microgreens, watercress is a popular in salads, cold-pressed juices and sandwiches.  Not only is it a nutritious vegetable but it is also considered a beauty food as it’s beneficial for healthy skin and could offer protection against cancer.

5. AArugula Corn Salad Reciperugula

This leafy green apparently has four times more beta carotene in comparison to an apple not to mention Vitamin K.  Due to its similarity in texture to microgreens, watercress is a popular in salads, cold-pressed juices and sandwiches.  Not only is it a nutritious vegetable but it is also considered a beauty food as it’s beneficial for healthy skin and could offer protection against cancer.

6. Spinach

Wish we could all just show Popeye to our kids and hope they catch on but it’s just not that simple!  Spinach salads are popular during the warm weather months but they are one of the most popular leafy greens available year round.  It contains Vitamin K and a significant amount of folate (so if you’re trying for baby 2 or 3…!), both of which are essential in cell development and disease prevention.

7. Mustard Greens

These greens are a good side dish to a variety of protein options or could be easily paired with one of our Tots Bites varieties.   Mustard greens are not as bitter as chard and they also contain beta-carotene in addition to Vitamin K and other phytonutrients i.e. antioxidants — all of which are essential to keep our immune systems strong due our kids being a cesspool of germs!

As with all the leafy greens, the serving size is about 1 cup raw and when you’re cooking with leafy greens be sure to portion it correctly because they become a lot less in quantity when they’re cooked. What’s your favorite leafy green? We’d love to hear your favorite recipes and any tips or tricks to getting the kids to eat them.

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