Abundant, local greens can brighten up your day

What better way to start your day than with some nested sunshine?
What better way to start your day than with some nested sunshine?

Greens for breakfast. Greens for lunch. Greens for dinner. Try it. Does that sound like a lot? Too much?

Consider, for a moment, our cultural willingness to pop supplements by the handful in our quest for proper nutrition. Now, back up for a moment and consider your diet. Are you demonstrating that same commitment in deciding what to put in your mouth? Just as important, is it time to shake up your food routines by introducing new, healthy flavors and waking up those sleepy winter taste buds?

Adding green, leafy vegetables to your diet has a potentially life-changing impact on your bones, heart, eyes and digestive system. Just one serving of greens a day could lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Leafy greens offer plenty of vitamin K and calcium for strong bones. Rich in vitamin A, greens support healthy eyes and a strong immune system. They are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, like vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids.

Like other vegetables, leafy greens give us plenty of fiber. Fiber is not only important for digestion but also plays an important role in keeping our bodies clean. Imagine millions of tiny brooms, sweeping toxins out of your body; that's what fiber can do for you.

Spring is a fine time to think about health and food. After all, we're all emerging from our winter dens – some more literally than others – and looking forward to getting more active and generally cleaning up our acts. Ads for spring detox programs abound.

While you're dusting off those running shoes and digging out the blender for smoothies, consider a run to your nearest farmers market. In our area, the Tilton, Concord and Weare markets continue for a few more weeks or more. New Hampshire is moving more and more toward year-round farmers markets, so let's be sure to support the farmers working to make that happen.

What could area farms possibly be growing now, you ask? Greens, of course!

Spinach, baby bok choi, arugula, mesclun, scallions, mustard greens and more are all on their way to a farmers market near you.

According to Earl Tuson of Loudon's Red Manse Farm, the farm's high tunnels have been producing spinach since January. “Customers have raved about how sweet it has been,” he said. By mid-March, they were harvesting crops of baby bok choy and radishes, while scallions and parsley continue to grow. (Did you know you can eat those zesty radish greens, too?) “Additional plantings in March should keep folks supplied with greens until the field-sown crops begin to mature in late May,” said Tuson.

It's time to step out of the box and look for new ways to incorporate greens into your diet, and you don't have to wait until dinner to do it. Lightly sauteed greens are delicious in scrambled eggs and omelets. Green smoothies are the perfect way to start the day.

Just balance a healthy handful of greens with your choice of fruit for sweetness, add some yogurt and flaxseed, and your off to a powerful start. Experiment to find a combination that works for you.

While you're at the farmers market, pick up some farm-fresh eggs so you'll be ready for a week of delicious, nutritious breakfasts – with greens, that is.

Here's a quick idea that's sure to brighten your day:

Nested Sunshine

1 cup spinach, washed and roughly chopped

1 small shallot, minced (optional)

1 teaspoon butter or olive oil

1 farm-fresh egg

za'atar spice blend (optional)

salt and pepper

Lightly saute the finely minced shallot in butter or olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Add the roughly chopped spinach and stir for just a moment, until it wilts. Form a donut-shaped ring of spinach and crack the egg into the middle. Cover the pan and watch closely. Flip the egg and spinach next for a more well-done egg, or leave sunny-side up. Sprinkle with za'atar seasoning (a zesty Middle Eastern blend) and finish with salt and pepper.

Enjoy getting your greens on for spring!

Eleanor Baron lives, gardens, cooks, and writes in Concord and stalks area farmers markets for fresh, in-season vegetables. Visit her blog at nourishingwords.net for more ideas and inspiration on incorporating healthy habits into your life.

Author: Eleanor Baron

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