Backyard farmers and local food fans in the Yukon will undoubtedly be treated with an endless supply of nutrient-rich root vegetables. This season, when you buy or harvest your bunches, don’t toss the leafy greens that top them. The greens on beets, carrots and even turnips are full of vitamins, minerals, and flavour – just like kale, collards, and other leafy greens in the garden.
The greens are rich in calcium, a calming mineral that is also essential for bone health. For even better anti-osteoporosis action, these greens are high in vitamin K, which helps the body effectively absorb calcium.
Leafy green vegetable tops are rich in iron – the blood’s best friend. They are also high in vitamin C, which helps boost the absorption of iron in the greens.
Root vegetable tops have high levels of powerful antioxidants vitamin C and A. Vitamin C supports the immune system and keeps skin looking healthy and young, all while fighting free radicals and other toxins that your body encounters on a daily basis. Vitamin A helps protect the cardiovascular system among other parts of the body from damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress.
Lean, mean fibre machines
Root vegetable greens are also full of fibre, which supports the digestive system. Fibre makes these greens an excellent addition to dishes, as it increases mealtime satisfaction by promoting that feeling of being full – faster and for longer.
If you can’t beet them, eat them
Beet and turnip greens can be cooked and eaten in the same ways as spinach or Swiss chard. Add a drizzle of oil and sauté them with onions and garlic for a delightful side. They can also be added to stir fries and other cooked dishes.
Carrot greens are bitter with a hint of sweetness. They are similar to parsley in flavour, though a bit coarser in texture. Finely chop carrot greens and add them to salads, tabbouleh or bean salads. Blend them with olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts and make a pesto. If you have a juicer, carrot greens are a wonderful addition to almost any juice recipe.
Keeping your greens, well, green
Some simple advice when it comes to storing root vegetables and having them last longer in your fridge: cut the leafy tops off immediately when you get the vegetables home and store them separately. This will extend the life of your food as otherwise the greens will draw moisture from the root. Store the greens wrapped in a paper towel or clean tea towel and in a plastic bag.
Limp greens can be refreshed and rejuvenated by storing them in the refrigerator in water. The cold water will revive them in just a couple of hours.
If you are planning on cooking your greens, you can also wash and dry them and then freeze them in airtight containers or reusable sealable bags for later use.