As our state becomes blanketed in snow, it is easy to think life on the farm grinds to halt. Fortunately for us eaters, however, many farmers utilize hoophouses (aka high tunnels or passive solar greenhouses) to grow a variety of cold hardy winter greens: collards, kale, and spinach are commonly available year round. If you’re normally not a fan of greens, and even if you are, I dare you to try the winter kissed varieties and not fall in love.
Planted in late fall, winter greens begin to increase their natural sugar production as the temperatures plummet. This increased sugar is stored in the plant’s tissues as a mechanism to help them resist frost or freezing damage. It also makes the leaves taste much sweeter than their summer or spring grown counterparts, making them appealing to a wider audience of veggie eaters. Winter greens are especially popular among kids.
Winter greens contains many vitamins (vitamins A, C, K) and minerals (calcium, iron), are rich in fiber and folic acid (key for women of childbearing age) and high in antioxidants. As they are very tender, they can be eaten raw in salads (my favorite way to enjoy their sweetness), chopped and added to smoothies, mixed into eggs, or used as a last minute addition to soups.
Looking for inspiration on adding these veggies into your weekly routine? Check out the recipes below:
Basic Greens Recipe: https://youtu.be/pw40rLsFr34
Spinach Walnut Pesto
Makes 4-6 servings
Recipe provided by Michigan State University Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski + MIFMA
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup parsley
3 oz baby spinach
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 of a jalapeno pepper (seeded and rough cut, more or less to taste)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmesan or Asiago can be
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a non stick sauté pan over medium heat, roast the walnuts for 5-6 minutes or until they become fragrant.
- Place the roasted nuts and garlic into the food processor, and blend for 1 minute.
- Add the parsley, spinach, cheese, and jalapeno into the food processor, and pulse until well mixed. Keep processor on while pouring in the oil.
- Add lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste.
Classic Green Monster Smoothie
From Oh She Glows
1 cup almond milk or other non-dairy milk
1 cup destemmed kale leaves or baby spinach
1 large ripe frozen banana, chopped into chunks
1 tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter
1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flaxseed
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 scoop of your favourite protein powder (optional)
2 to 3 ice cubes
- Add all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
Kelly Wilson is the Director of Community Partners for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at email@example.com