Oklahoma Vegetable of the Month: Greens
Greens are the first vegetables to come up in the springtime. If well-protected, some will stay alive through the winter and begin growing once the days start to warm. Spinach that overwinters is sweeter than that which is planted later. Spinach is probably the best known of the greens, but there are many others, including young dandelion greens! Swiss chard grows very well in Oklahoma as do mustard and beet greens. Other greens available in the grocery store and winter farmers' markets this time of year are collard greens, kale and an assortment of Oriental greens.
Play With Your Food: Greens
Bring an assortment of greens to class. Set aside some for tasting, and let students handle and look at the rest.
- Students draw pictures of the different kinds of leaves.
- Students taste one each of the washed greens and determine which ones they like the best. You may also cook some to see which ones taste better cooked.
- Record preferences and graph the results.
- Greens lose a suprising amount of mass when cooked. Students weigh and measure greens before and after cooking. (Place a small amount of water or oil in a pan on medium heat. An electric skillet would work. Place the greens in the pan and cover.) Discuss the reason for the huge loss (water).
- Writing Prompt: Write and illustrate a green story.
- Use the cooking water as a natural dye: Fill a large pot with any kind of greens (Dandelion greens would work.) or clover and cover with cold water. Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat. Cover the pan, and steep the mixture for 30 minutes. Use a strainer to remove the greens. Provide each student with a square of unbleached muslin. Place the muslin in the pot and leave it overnight. Next day remove the squares and hang them to dry.
Be a Food Explorer: Spinach Salad
Many times children will eat raw spinach, even if they don't like lettuce. Set up a mini salad bar with spinach and additional ingredients like sunflower seeds, mandarin oranges, grated carrots, mushrooms, red, yellow and green bell peppers, grapes, apple slices, nuts, etc. Provide a slightly sweet dressing such as honey mustard or poppyseed, and encourage students to build their own salad or just eat the ingredients individually.
Or try Baked Kale Chips as a nutritious and tasty substitute for potato or corn chips.
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