"Turn Over A New Leaf" This New Year

BY MARIN LISSY

Farmer Foodshare welcomes a new blogger: Marin Lissy loves to cook with her family and friends, and enjoys sharing delicious healthy recipes. When she's not balancing sixth grade academic activities, Marin enjoys reading, playing guitar, biking, and spending time outdoors.

Every New Year, millions of people create a resolution that they will try to keep as they start the new year. Maybe you want to eat healthier, lose some weight, or be more healthful in general. It can be difficult to know where to begin. My suggestion?  Take one step at a time. Start by “turning over a new leaf” by trying a new leafy green on your trek to become a healthier person!

Why all the commotion over kale? Most people think it’s just an over-rated vegetable that everybody raves about, so they don’t even think to try it. But after you hear what its got to offer, you’re going to find it hard to resist from jumping on the bandwagon yourself. First of all, it helps you lose weight. You end up getting full on fiber, vitamins, minerals, and vegetable protein instead of carbs, fat, and sugar. Kale can also keep you (and your brain) like a genius around the clock. How? A cup of kale is made up of 27% manganese, a mineral that serves as brain food. Without it, we would feel droopy and sleepy all day. Worried that you’ll get sick of it? Here’s a link to 99 different healthy recipes that all include kale.

If someone told you that that the collard greens you were eating with your barbecue were just as healthy as the spinach you were dieting on (and getting sick of), you’d probably run out of your house with a mouthful of barbecue screaming (a muffled) ‘Eureka! I have found it!’ like Archimedes. This relatively ignored Southern staple can help lower your blood sugar, reduce the risk of cancer, and keep you from gaining weight. So now you’re probably wondering why you’ve never explored this neck of the woods. To cook collard greens, you typically boil them for about an hour with smoked meat, such as bacon or ham. The meat provides a salt and flavor to the broth that the collard greens are in. You have to be careful with your recipes, since it’s (surprisingly) easy to chose something that can have too much fat/salt in it. A bad recipe can keep you from being able to “count” the collard greens, because the health benefits were counterbalanced with unhealthy aspects.

Egyptian, Turkish, Grecian, and other Mediterranean cuisines are all common places where you might find Swiss chard. This leafy green is also known as spinach beet, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, crab beet, and mangold. Chard has around 600% of your daily minerals/vitamins. Kale’s cousin fights cancer, improves heart health, prevents diabetes, strengthens your bones, and maintains brain, muscle, and nerve function. It also helps raise your metabolism and get rid of belly fat. Furthermore, the superfood is easy to cook, and its colorful stems make an elegant dish. Young Swiss chard is typically put raw in salads (since it’s milder in flavor), while more mature leaves are cooked (cooking them extracts most of the bitter flavor). Make sure to use leaves that are a deep green and with little discoloring.

All of these healthy greens are “new leaves” to consider turning over as you start this new year. Don’t forget to stay in good health as you make your way through 2017. Good luck to all of you New Years Resolutioner’s out there!