Spring greens belong to the Brassica family of green leafy vegetables, and are not dissimilar to kale or collard greens. Their best month is March, when they come into season in the UK, and are sold as loose heads of thick green leaves.
Key facts (based on its nearest cousin, collard greens):
· Only 26kcal per 100kg.
· Very good source of vitamins A, C, K, and folate.
· High in protein quality.
· Good source of dietary fibre.
· Good source of iron, manganese and calcium.
Spring greens are very rich in vitamins A and C that, along with their natural source of sulforaphane, have strong antioxidant properties. People who eat a lot of these types of vegetables have been shown to have lower incidence of both heart disease (through its effect on blood pressure and cholesterol) and cancers.
Many fruits and vegetables contain unique compounds called “phytochemicals” that are showing to have strong antioxidant properties. In spring greens, the main compound is sulforaphane, found in many brassicas such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cabbages, and has been researched for its anti-cancer properties.
How to Cook
Spring greens are best steamed or stir-fried, after being shredded finely.
Spring Greens Recipe
Spring greens and chicken stir fry (serves 4)
4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 tbsp olive oil
2tbsp ginger, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 red chilli, deseed and diced
250g mushrooms, quartered
200g can water chestnuts, drained and sliced
350g spring greens, washed, trimmed and sliced
2tbsp soy sauce
1. Heat the oil in a large wok over a high heat and add the chicken. Stir constantly for 3-4 minutes until they start to brown
2. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and mushrooms. Fry for a minute, stirring constantly
3. Add the spring greens and water chestnuts along with the soy sauce and stir until the greens have wilted.
4. When chicken is cooked with no pink showing, it’s ready to serve
Nutritional value per portion:
8.1g fat (1.3g saturated fat)
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat. He writes for www.veggieandspice.com and www.itsaboutnutrition.com