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Why Lettuce?

Since lettuce is a great choice for your health, the difference comes down to taste and function.

Lettuce contains Vitamins A, C, K and folate, as well as the minerals iron, calcium, and potassium. Like many vegetables, lettuce also contains phytochemicals, mysterious plant compounds that may have disease-fighting properties and antioxidants.


Why Local?

LOCAL lettuce will have some of the highest vitamin, mineral, and phytochemical composition of any you can eat.

Because plants are, in large part, a product of the soil from which they emerge, local farmers (organic and conventional) supported by the Co-op use responsible farming methods that enhance the nutrients available to plants from the soil, and, thus, the healthy components available to those who consume them! In addition, because they are more likely to ripen in the ground and be eaten shortly after picking, there is more time for nutrients to develop in the ground and less time for them to be lost in transit.

Why now?
At the Co-op Food Stores this week, we have local green and red leaf, green and red romaine, green and red boston, lazy, and mesclun lettuce.

So many choices! What’s the difference?
All of the varieties of local lettuce we have right now are a slam-dunk, nutritionally. For all of the reasons already given, I cannot compare them to the stock values listed online. Since they are all a great choice for your health, the difference may come down to taste and function. Check out Jamie’s post on the evolution of lettuce, including how our tastes are evolving.

As for function, romaine, both green and red leaf, is great for braising and grilling. Check out our video for grilled Caesar salad above!

Or braise a single leaf as a crostini topping:

http://www.thekitchn.com/weekend-snack-braised-lettuce-115059

Boston varieties are perfect for lettuce wraps because they have a nice round shape and thick leaves. The possibilities are endless. Most things that can go in a taco, a bun, or a bowl can go in a lettuce wrap. Here’s one to try:

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/crispy-thai-pork-cucumber-salad

Green and red leaf lettuce, lazy and mesclun or spicy greens are all great choices for salad. The “bagged” varieties (lazy, mesclun, spicy) make salads quick and simple on these hot summer evenings when light food is appreciated! They may need a quick rinse in the salad spinner, but require slightly less prep time than buying a whole head of lettuce.

More tips on washing your greens? Check out our video:

Going with a salad? Keep it fun and filling!! Make an entrée salad by adding the following to your local lettuce:

  1. Nuts or seeds. These add healthy fats to keep you full and a tasty crunch. My fav? Raw pumpkin seeds. Try roughly chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, sunflower, or any that you please!
  2. Dried fruit. Remember, there’s sugar here, but in moderation, this natural sugar adds sweet and chewy textures. Raisin, craisins, dried cherries… or fresh! Go nuts. Oh wait, go berries?
  3. Think outside the box if you’re tired of chicken Caesar salad… cold lentils or black beans pair well with peppers, cilantro, lime, and Italian dressing for a lettuce-topper. Hard boiled eggs can be made in a large batch at the beginning of the week and peeled right before eating.
  4. Whole grains from your dinner make great additions to a salad. Corn kernels, rice pilaf, you name it. Add it cold and mix with your favorite dressing. Voilà—instant salad upgrade!
  5. The right kind of fat. Just like nuts and seeds, healthy oils (canola, sunflower, safflower, sesame, soy, or olive) from your salad dressing will keep you fuller, longer, and help you absorb all that wonderful A and K (fat soluble vitamins).

Whether you make your own or use it from a bottle, check the ingredients to make sure you’ve got healthy oils and not too much sugar in your dressing. Remember, the serving size is usually 1 or 2 tablespoons, so keep the quantity in mind. Need more oomph without more calories? Fresh-squeezed lemon, a dash of salt, and extra virgin olive oil make a fantastic, light dressing. For an Asian version of olive oil and vinegar, use toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar.

For a lighter Caesar dressing, try this recipe by Jamie Oliver:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/caesar-light-side

 

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Hannah Brilling

Hannah Brilling

Hannah is the Co-op Nutrition Specialist. She has a rich background in wellness and nutrition with a BS in Health Science (Nutrition) from Keene State. Contact her at HannahBrilling at coopfoodstore dot com.
Hannah Brilling

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