Diets high in fruits and vegetables are widely recommended for their health-promoting properties. Fruits and vegetables supply vitamins and minerals to the diet and are sources of powerful phytochemicals that function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer disease, and even cognitive decline. As always, towards the bottom of this page you will find a photo gallery containing additional posters and charts. Enjoy! Big hugs, Dana
Dark leafy greens are powerful superfoods because the leaves contain chlorophyll – the light-catching, energy-converting machinery of plants. When it comes to nutrient-density, leafy greens are king. Nutrient-density refers to the level of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in comparison to the total calories. In other words, leafy greens provide the greatest amount of bang for your buck. For instance, lettuce, the most popular leafy green only has 7 calories per cup.
Leafy greens also contain high levels of fiber, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. The vitamin K contents of dark green leafy vegetables provide a number of health benefits including protecting bones from osteoporosis, ensuring proper blood coagulation, and protection against inflammatory disease.
Salad greens, kale, and spinach are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K; while, broccoli, bok choy, and mustard are also great sources of B-vitamins. Leafy greens also contain an abundance of carotenoids — antioxidants that protect cells and play roles in blocking the early stages of cancer. Last, but not least, leafy greens are a great source of dietary fiber; which, helps regulate the digestive system and aids in weight management.
The qualities described above make leafy greens one of the best options for individuals seeking a holistic approach to health and wellness, including weight management. When it comes to satisfying your appetite, it helps to eat foods that are nutrient-dense; however, there is no need to eat leafy greens alone. You can easily combine the more mild leafy greens with the darker – more bitter – leafy greens to achieve a powerful combination of nutrients; however, don’t stop there! Consider combining leafy greens with other fresh fruits and vegetables and add them to salads, sandwiches, veggie bowls, wraps, soups, and even smoothies.
Handling Leafy Greens
- When shopping, pack fresh salad greens in plastic bags so they are kept separate from other groceries, especially raw meats and poultry.
- To reduce the risk of foodborne illness refrigerate salad greens at 35 to 40 degrees F within two hours of purchasing.
- Store leafy greens away from fruits that produce a lot of ethylene gas (e.g. tomatoes and apples), which causes greens to wilt and spoil quickly.
- Always wash hands before preparing salads and make sure you are working with a clean cutting board.
- Wash lettuce just before using by running cold water over leaves. If leaves are difficult to clean, consider immersing leaves in a cold bowl of water for a few minutes to help remove sand and/or dirt.
- After rinsing, blot leaves dry with a clean paper towel or use a salad spinner to remove excess water.
- Plan to use lettuce and other salad greens within one week of purchase.
Storage of Leafy Greens
Storing Spinach, Swiss Chard, and Collard, Dandelion, and Turnip Greens
These greens retain their crispness if kept in the coolest part of the fridge for up to 4 days. Wrap in damp paper towels and store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag.
Kale is tastiest if eaten soon after purchase, but it should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week if stored in a perforated plastic bag with its leaves close together.
Storing Chicory and Escarole
These greens retain their crispness for up to a week if kept in the coolest part of the fridge. Wrap in damp paper towels and store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag.
Storing Brussels Sprouts
Place unwashed Brussels sprouts in a paper bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, where they should keep for 3 to 4 days.
Hearty sprouts such as mung bean can be kept in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge, but more delicate varieties such as pea shoots and alfalfa sprouts need ventilation and should be refrigerated in the plastic containers they’re sold in. They should keep for 2 to 3 days.
Storing Kohlrabi Greens
These greens are very perishable, so wrap in damp paper towels and store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They should keep for a couple of days.
Storing Red and Green Leaf Lettuce
Store these lettuces unwashed in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will keep for 2 to 3 days.
Store Romaine lettuce unwashed in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator, or wash the leaves, dry them thoroughly, and refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Either way, Romaine should last for up to a week.
Storing Boston Lettuce
Store this butterhead lettuce unwashed in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator. It should keep for 2 to 3 days. If you wash the leaves, dry them thoroughly, and refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag, Boston lettuce will last for about a week.
Storing Iceberg Lettuce
Store iceberg lettuce unwashed in a perforated or loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. It will keep for about a week.
Storing Arugula and Mesclun
These salad greens are very perishable, so wrap them in damp paper towels and store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They should keep for 2 to 3 days.
Storing Salad Mixes
Unopened salad mixes will stay fresh in the refrigerator until the “Best By” date stamped on the front of the bag. Once opened, the salad should keep for several days, stored in a sealed plastic bag.
This green retains its crispness for up to 4 days if kept in the coolest part of the fridge. Store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag.
The delicacy that serves mâche well in your salad is its enemy in the refrigerator. Don’t plan on storing it more than 1 or 2 days.
Storing Belgian Endive, Frisée, and Radicchio
To store these lettuces, place in dampened paper towels or perforated plastic bags and store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They should keep for up to 5 days; after that they will lose their crispness.
To keep cress fresh, immerse stems in water or wrap them in a damp paper towel and refrigerate for no more than 2 or 3 days.
Storing Lollo Rosso
Lollo rosso is very perishable, so wrap it in damp paper towels and store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, where it should keep for 2 to 3 days.
- Use a variety of different leafy greens, baby greens, and sprouts;
- You can mix bitter greens with your favorite greens (50:50 or even 25:75) to mask bitter flavors of the darker (more nutrient-dense) leafy greens;
- Baby greens as they tend to be more tender, nutritious, and milder in flavor than mature greens;
- Use a nice DIY salad dressing (e.g. white vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil);
- Squeeze lemon or lime juice over your salad (or mix it into your DIY salad dressing) to increase the bioavailability of iron;
- For extra protein, consider adding nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, chickpeas, and/or edamame (to view additional sources of plant-based protein, click here);
- Add non-traditional salad ingredients including fresh fruit, dried fruit, and sprouts to your salad.
To learn more about my lifestyle, visit the page titled Rebel Lifestyle.
To view photos of my clean and green grub, visit the page titled Rebel Grub.
Posters and Charts
To view my posters and charts, visit the page titled Posters.
To view shopping lists, visit the page titled Shopping Lists.
To view meal planning information, visit the page titled Meal Planning.
To view the answers to my frequently asked questions, visit the page titled FAQs.
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Posters and Charts
Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. This means you are free to use my work for personal use (e.g., save the file to your computer or share via social media) as long as you do not modify the image or use the image for commercial purposes ($). Big hugs! Dana