By: Jennifer Tweed, Keene State College Dietetic Intern 2019-20
The New Hampshire Harvest of the Month this month is mixed greens!
When trying to eat healthier, most folks first thought includes eating more salads to increase the amount of vegetables in their diet. It’s true, pre-packaged mixed greens are a quick and easy way to prepare fresh salads and eat more veggies. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that women over the age of 19 consume 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day and men over the age of 19 consume 3 cups of vegetables per day.1 It is important to note that a cup of vegetables is not the same as a cup of salad greens and in order to make salad greens the nutritional equivalent of a one-cup serving of vegetables, you must have two cups. Mixed greens are also referred to as salad mix or spring mix and these terms are often used interchangeably. These mixes often include a blend of young leafy green vegetables such as baby lettuces, mustards, chards, spinach, arugula and chicory that vary based on availability.
Mixed greens can contain a variety of essential dietary nutrients, such as vitamins A, K & C, folate, potassium, fiber, and water. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting whereas vitamin A is important for vision, healthy skin and proper cell function and vitamin C helps to keep your bones and teeth strong. Mixed greens are low in energy but dense in nutrients. They will keep you feeling fuller longer, adding fiber to your diet. , While eating two cups of mixed greens may seem like a lot for one meal, adding in other vegetables to your salad greens can give you the nutrients that you need without all the bulk. Alternatively, mixed greens are wonderful cooked as well and once cooked, they shrink in volume considerably and can then be added to things like eggs or stir-fries.
Mixed greens can be found at your local farmers markets throughout the summer months but where should you look during the winter months? Most local supermarkets and grocery stores carry pre-packaged mixed greens, spring mixes or salad greens in either bags or clamshell style boxes all year long. When choosing your greens at the store, check “use by” dates marked on the package and choose ones that are less likely to go bad before you intend to use them. Also look for vibrant color in your greens, whether they be green or red they should have a bright color with no wilting or yellowing of the leaves. After purchasing your greens, store them in the refrigerator unwashed and wash them before preparing them. If storing after washing, best practice is to place them in a large bowl with a paper towel to help absorb the moisture and keep them fresh and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Keep in mind, once washed, they will last for a shorter period of time in your fridge before wilting. Properly handled and stored greens should last in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
No matter how you enjoy eating and preparing your greens, here is a simple recipe to mix it up:
Fig & Goat Cheese Salad
Serves: 4, 1 cup salads
- 2 cups mixed salad greens
- 4 dried figs, stemmed and sliced
- 1-ounce fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 ½ tbsp slivered almonds, preferably toasted
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp honey
- Pinch of salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Combine greens, figs, goat cheese and almonds in a medium bowl.
- Stir together oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.
- Just before serving, drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss.
- To make ahead: Refrigerate salad and dressing separately for up to 24 hours
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 8th Edition. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/