Who has felt personally victimized by the short shelf life of dark leafy greens? That bag of spring mix, spinach, or arugula gets thrown in the grocery cart with the best intentions and ambitions. Unfortunately, it won’t be long before those delicate greens turn too brown and wilted to enjoy.
If our greens are consistently rotting before we get to them, is it even worth the purchase? Nutritionally speaking, absolutely. The USDA recommends at least 3 to 4 cups raw leafy greens, or 1 1/2 to 3 cups cooked greens per week. This is because dark green veggies contain nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium. These vitamins and minerals play a lot of roles in our bodies such as supporting a healthy immune system and good eye and bone health. The antioxidants also protect our cells from damage that may reduce our risk of certain types of cancers.
So in the name of health—and delicious food—let’s acknowledge that it is possible to finish out those dark leafy greens while they’re still fresh. It just takes a little creativity and conscious effort. There are uses for greens when they are at their peak of freshness, and other uses that repurpose them for when they are slightly wilted or on their way out. Let’s take a look at both!
Crisp and Fresh
Fresh green salads are the obvious choice for your crisp freshly bought greens. But remember, there is more to a salad than veggies and dressing if you’re looking for exceptional flavor. Check out our blog post here to learn out to perfectly balance the flavors of your green salads.
If you’ve let your greens sit in the fridge past their prime, have no fear. There are plenty of ways to incorporate them despite their loss of crispness.
First off, you can attempt to revive them. Soaking them in ice water then spinning them dry in a salad spinner can bring back some of the original texture. If they are beyond reviving, let’s look into some other options.
Smoothies: This is a great option for when you want to use up those greens, but aren’t in the mood for the flavor or texture. It is also nice that there is no cook time to wait around for, only blend time. Check out our Coco Chia Smoothie for a refreshing, sweet treat.
Sauté: A quick sauté with aromatics like garlic and onion can be a nutrient and flavor powerhouse to accompany any entrée. For a recipe and serving suggestion, check out our recipe here.
Stews and Soups: A handful of greens will add a last-minute boost of nutrients, color, and texture to the mix. Below are just a few recipes greens would work well in:
Omelet: Greens are a great way to dress up eggs, any meal of the day. Recipe or no recipe, come up with your unique ingredient combination and watch it come together in minutes. If you prefer to follow a recipe, check out Chef Lesli’s Omelet with Spinach and Mozzarella.
Chiffonade and Garnish: Chiffonade is a technique used to slice leafy greens or herbs into thin ribbons. This can make them more manageable for those looking to avoid stems or bulky leaves. Small amounts of leftover greens work great as a colorful garnish. Examples could include on pizza or in pasta or rice dishes.
Freeze: Are you too short on time and motivation to cook something right this second? That’s okay, throw those greens in a freezer bag, and use them later in any of the above dishes. Check out our blog post for other tips on freezing produce.
We hope this post inspires you to take the plunge and buy that bag of spring mix. Use the above tips and your own creativity to save the spring mix and use it in delicious ways before it has a chance to go bad. You’ve got this!