I can still picture my grandmother standing at the stove drinking the leftover liquid from the vegetables she cooked for dinner-to get every last nutrient. She understood that vitamins and minerals played a primary role in a healthy diet. Like so many living in the early 1900’s, she kept a kitchen garden to grow veggies, tomatoes, herbs and greens. The vintage greens she grew or foraged for were a regular part of her family’s meals. Guess what? You can still grow, find or purchase these super-charged greens today!
Top of the list are four greens that while not mainstream, are a must try. Purslane, Mizuna, Mustard Greens and Dandelion all pack a nutritive punch. Purslane has more Omega-3’s than any other plant in the world, Mizuna provides high levels of beta carotene and minerals, Mustard Greens lowers cholesterol and protects against cancer, and Dandelion is a great liver detox that strengthens the immune system and helps patients during cancer treatment. In addition to their nutritional value, these greens provide delicious diversity to smoothies, salads, sandwiches and cooked dishes.
Farmer’s Markets are a good source for these old-timey greens. Roslyn McNicholl of Rabbit Field Farms in Skagit Valley Washington is a regular vendor at the Everett Farmers Market. She says that she has seen an increased interest in the nutrient-dense vintage greens she grows and sells. In addition to farmers markets, she sells unconventional greens to restaurants and grocery stores.
Roslyn regularly shares recipe ideas with her customers that easily incorporate her greens. She said, “Men are drawn to Mustard greens, maybe it’s their spicy flavor or something that their body craves. I tell them, instead of spicy brown mustard on their burger or sandwich, pile it high with mustard greens.” Roslyn said her favorite green is Mizuna. She said, “In fact, I love Mizuna so much I want to name my first daughter after it.” Her favorite way to eat many of these greens is in a big bowl tossed with a little balsamic vinegar.
Visit your local farmer’s market to find some of the freshest greens available or if you would like to try your hand at growing some of these delicious-wholesome greens, purchase seeds from an heirloom seed company such as Bakers Creek Rare Seeds.
Growing greens is seasonal, so be sure to enjoy them while they are available!