On the Table

Eat greens for good (dietary) fortune

Contributing CorrespondentJanuary 7, 2014 

Many people believe the coming of a new year is a time to eat greens, a tradition thought to bring good luck and prosperity. But greens are a sure thing. Work more of them into your meals for dietary fortune.

You probably already know that vegetables such as kale, collards, turnip and mustard greens are rich sources of dietary fiber, vitamins A, C and K, potassium, iron, calcium and other nutrients. And unless you load bacon grease or other animal fats to your greens, they’re naturally low in calories, sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat.

The question becomes: What are some new ways to add greens to my meals?

I was once served some inspiration in the form of crispy fried seaweed.

Years ago, I was in Camden, Maine, at the home of the late Dr. Benjamin Spock helping with revisions to what would be his last edition of his classic book “Baby and Child Care.” That night, he and his wife and I were sitting at the kitchen table, gabbing by the glow of the light hanging low over the table.

When his wife stepped over to the stove to heat up our snack, I’ll admit I was a little skeptical. In a greased cast-iron skillet, she quickly fried pieces of seaweed. She brought them to the table in a big, deep bowl from which we snacked like it was popcorn. It fueled another hour of work.

I thought of that crispy seaweed recently as I ate a warm kale salad at Jujube restaurant in Chapel Hill. The combination of lightly cooked and crispy fried kale was tossed with an oil-based dressing and mixed with persimmon slices and chopped walnuts.

Look for other opportunities to eat greens. Try some of these:

•  Stir them into soups and chili. Slice greens into strips and sauté them lightly in olive oil and garlic before adding them to the pot.

•  Pair green with red. The complementary colors add interest to meals. Chopped greens go well on top of a pizza or mixed into any tomato-based pasta sauce.

•  Drink them. If you like to juice your fruits and vegetables or make smoothies, add fresh greens to your favorite blends.

•  Incorporate them into simple standards such as mac and cheese or an omelet.

Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a registered dietitian and clinical associate professor of health policy and management at UNC-Chapel Hill. Reach her at suzanne@onthetable.net; follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.

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