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GRMC Nutrition Minute - Three Secret Nutrition Superstars at The Farmers' Market

The focus today is on three often wasted nutrition superstars available at the Farmers' market: carrot tops, turnip greens, and beet greens.

Carrot tops, the frilly greens that come attached to carrots that have not been trimmed, are commonly discarded but full of flavor, vitamins, and micronutrients. Many people are unsure of how to use them ("compost" and "feeding to chickens" are the most common responses), but carrot tops can be added to salads (small amounts, as the greens are intensely flavored), blended into green smoothies, or used as one of the greens in a chimichurri sauce.

Salad turnips are small white turnips usually sold bunched in groups of four to six, and have a milder and sweeter flavor than most commercial turnips. Enjoy the turnips, but don't discard the greens – they can be sautéed like spinach, and a half-cup of cooked turnip greens contains three grams of dietary fiber as well as 10% of the RDA for calcium, 63% for vitamin A, and a whopping 473% for vitamin K (so be careful if you're taking a blood thinner!)

Beets are nutritional powerhouses, but beet greens are an even more concentrated source of nutrients with fewer carbohydrates. They can be steamed, sautéed with a bit of butter, or stir-fried, and a ½ cup serving contains just 19 calories but 2 grams of fiber, 650 mg of potassium, almost 20% of the RDA for magnesium and riboflavin, 40% of the RDA for vitamin A, and 385% for vitamin K. Be cognizant of the stain factor, as both beets and beet greens are intensely colored and tend to stain clothes and cutting boards.

Do be aware of any dietary restrictions before trying a new food, especially the interaction between vitamin K and warfarin, but don't be too quick to discard the "trimmings", as the tops, peels, and greens of many vegetables contain much of their vitamin and d micronutrient content!

-- Bret Sarnquist RD LD