Leafy greens are an important addition to a healthy diet. They contain few calories, little fat, and no cholesterol, plus they taste great. Many are high in vitamins A, C, and E and in beta-carotene, calcium, iron, and fiber. Most of the greens that we eat are grown throughout the year.

Some greens grow best in colder weather so you may see them at your farmer’s market at the beginning and towards the end of the growing season. There are various types of greens including mustard, collard, and turnip greens.

Mustard greens have a peppery flavor when added to foods. They come in several varieties and may be dark, light, short, fat, smooth, or curly. Mustard Greens in the United States are typically soft, green, and oval-shaped, frilled at the edges, and attached to long stems. When selecting mustard greens, avoid those that have yellow, brown, or dry leaves, or coarse, fibrous stems. A one half cup serving of cooked greens yields only 25 calories.

Collards greens are an excellent source of Vitamin A and C. These greens are considered a winter type of food and their peak months are between January and April. The flavor of collard greens is enhanced even more after the first frost of the year. When selecting collard greens look for those found in bunches that still have all of their leaves intact.

Turnip greens are a good source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and calcium. These greens also help your body produce cells, strengthen bone, and help regulate kidney function. Turnip greens are in their peak from October to March and can be prepared in a variety of ways such as blanching, steaming, and sautéing. Select turnip greens that are bright in color and have crisp leaves and slender stems.

Wash all greens before using. To add some healthy leafy greens to your winter diet, try this delicious Turnip Green Soup from Plate it Up! Kentucky Proud.

Turnip Green Soup


8 oz fresh turnip greens, chopped

8 oz roasted turkey, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

½ c fresh carrot, chopped

1 c potato, peeled and diced

½ clove garlic, minced

1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14 oz) can low sodium chicken broth

1 t salt

1 c water

1 t crushed red pepper flakes


Cook greens until tender. Add all ingredients, except red pepper flakes, to a large soup pot and stir well. Bring to a boil. Add red pepper flakes. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer one hour, stirring frequently.

Yield: 6 (1 cup) servings

Nutrition Analysis: 120 calories, 3.5 g fat, 12 g protein, 10 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 30 mg cholesterol, 420 mg sodium

For additional recipes and nutritional information, contact Ashley Board at the Caldwell County Extension Office at 270-365-2787 or ashley.board@uky.edu.