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Benefits of Leafy Greens and Healthy Kale and Bean Soup Recipe

We have heard that leafy greens are good for us, but what are the actual benefits?  When we say leafy greens, what vegetables are we referring to?  Leafy greens are plant leaves eaten as a vegetable; most popular greens include kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, spinach, collards, broccoli, and cabbage.

These greens are amazing sources of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and fiber.  They are very low in calories and sodium.  Additionally, leafy greens are associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.  These greens should be incorporated into the daily diet to improve one’s overall health.

So how exactly should we cook these vegetables?  Depending on which green you are cooking with, will determine the cooking method.  For foods like kale, collards, and chard, they should be rinsed thoroughly to remove any dirt.  From there one can cook them with some garlic and olive oil for about 5 minutes.

For a green like spinach, which is packed with calcium, it can be eaten raw or cooked; the cooked version has a higher nutritional value.

Broccoli, a great source of vitamins A and C, Potassium, and folate, can be eaten raw or cooked several ways.  It can be steamed, stir-fried or boiled.  However, boiling will quickly remove the nutrients, as a lot of them are pulled into the hot water (you can also drink the water after).

It seems that Kale is all the rage these days and with the weather being so cold, here is an easy and healthy recipe for Kale and Bean Soup:

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 large garlic cloves, crushed or minced

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

4 cups chopped raw kale

4 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, such as cannellini or navy, undrained

4 plum tomatoes, chopped

2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and onion; sauté until soft.
  3. Add kale and sauté, stirring, until wilted.
  4. Add 3 cups of broth, 2 cups of beans, and all of the tomato, herbs, salt and pepper.  Simmer 5 minutes.
  5. In a blender or food processor, mix the remaining beans and broth until smooth.
  6. Stir into soup to thicken. Simmer 15 minutes.
  7. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with chopped parsley.

By Laura Georgian

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