Contributed by Atlanta-based Registered Dietitian Joanna Skinner
This week, the folks at Good Measure gave me three meals to try: Walnut and Spinach Bake with Ricotta Cheese over Brown Rice Pilaf with a side of Sugar Snap Peas; Spinach and Ricotta Bake over Seasoned Brown Rice with Carrots and Parsnips; and Pad Thai with Tofu and Bean Sprouts with Asian Bok Choy.
The spinach-ricotta bake is a solid dish, and it would be equally at home as part of a savory breakfast as it is as a lunch/dinner entrée with rice and veggies. However, the standout meal for me was Good Measure’s long-popular pad Thai. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most successful meals on the GMM menu—the pad Thai itself rivals many restaurants’ versions, and the bok choy was, like most of the other vegetables I’ve eaten as part of Good Measure meals, perfectly cooked.
Bok choy is a particularly good vegetable to highlight this time of year, because it’s in season in Georgia right now. If you visit a local farmer’s market, there’s a good chance you’ll see this pleasantly bitter leafy green among the sweet potatoes, turnips, and butternut squash. One of my favorite recipes appears below this post.
A member of the cabbage family, bok choy (sometimes spelled pak choi) is a good source of vitamin C, calcium, folate, beta carotene, and fiber. Other dark green leafy vegetables also supply vitamin A, calcium, folate, fiber and other nutrients. All green leafy vegetables are considered non-starchy, so they’re great for anyone watching his or her blood sugar.
If you don’t currently order Good Measure Meals, or if you order a few meals each week and do your own cooking as well, I encourage you to sample a range of dark green vegetables this fall. Kale is an especially popular and versatile green, working well as a gently sautéed side dish, as a substantial addition to vegetable soup (chop it well), as a roasted substitute for potato chips, or, for the slightly more adventurous eaters, as part of a massaged (raw) kale salad. The recipe for a seasonal kale salad I especially like can be found here (scroll down to the salad recipe under “Special Package Dinner”): https://www.moorefarmsandfriends.com/store/pc/viewContent.asp?idpage=234.
Collards are a staple in the South, but many of us are most familiar with greens that have been boiled for hours, probably with some ham or a smoked turkey leg added for flavor. While that kind of recipe has its place, for vegetarians or those looking for a somewhat healthier take on the recipe, turn here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/claire-robinson/smoky-collard-greens-recipe/index.html. Using smoked paprika instead of smoked turkey or ham helps reduce the sodium and fat in the dish while still giving the greens a good, smoky flavor. Also, note that you don’t need to cook the greens for hours to make them edible; 30-45 minutes in low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth will do the trick AND help the greens hold on to their nutrients.
Mild dark greens such as spinach and Swiss chard offer the same health benefits as the other greens described here, so if you prefer a milder flavor, you have other delicious options.
With so many possibilities, why not give a bowl of leafy green veggies a place on the table this holiday season?
Sautéed Sesame Bok Choy
1 large head baby bok choy, washed thoroughly and chopped into large pieces (including the white stalk)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the sesame seeds, garlic, and ginger, and sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the stalk of the bok choy first, stirring it occasionally to coat it with oil.
When it starts to soften (3-5 minutes), add the green leaves. Cook just until the leaves begin to wilt. Remove from heat, and stir in the rice vinegar and soy sauce. Serve with your choice of protein and grain.