Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mabel school children enjoy greens at harvest party

The majority described bok choy salad and chard sautéed with garlic as “yummy”, with only a couple ranking the recipes as “so-so” or “not my favorite”. That’s because when kids have the opportunity to grow, harvest, and prepare vegetables, they are invested in the entire process, including tasting them.

Mabel elementary first and second graders planted their fall garden on September 10th. Many wanted to plant their favorite vegetables, such as corn, tomatoes and green beans, instead of greens. They learned that a fall garden has to be able to withstand cooler temperatures and be ready to harvest relatively quickly. The cold tolerant vegetables were put to the test during the blizzard last week. While lettuce and Swiss chard were slightly damaged, the bok choy, napa cabbage, and collard greens were unharmed.

After washing hands and vegetables, the children tore the leaves of the greens into bite-sized pieces. The smell of garlic permeated the classroom as the greens were stir-fried. They measured and poured ingredients for making salad dressing, and shook the dressing in a jar.

Cold tolerant greens not only taste great, they work hard to keep you well. People who eat merely three to five cups each week have been found to have a lower incidence of a variety of cancers. What an important taste to cultivate early on!

Greens contain beta-carotene and vitamin C, which are both anti-oxidants that protect cells from damage, reducing our chances of developing cataracts and lowering our risk of skin cancer. Vitamin C is vital for proper function of the immune system, which keeps us healthy.

Here are our child tested recipes for greens:

Chard or kale with garlic
6 large chard leaves or equivalent amount of kale
1 large garlic clove
Olive oil

Cut the stems out of the chard leaves and dice. Coarsely chop the leaves. Mince the garlic. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chard stems and garlic and stir around for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the chopped leaves and continue to stir until tender. Add salt as desired. Makes 4 servings.

Bok choy salad
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 bunches baby bok choy, cleaned and sliced(or around 4 cups of other greens)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/8 cup slivered almonds, toasted
5 ounce package chow mein noodles
In a glass jar with a lid, mix together olive oil, white vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce. Close the lid, and shake until well mixed.
Combine the bok choy, green onions, almonds, and chow mein noodles in a salad bowl. Toss with dressing, and serve. Makes 6 servings.

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