The Health Benefits of Spring Greens Salad Mix

Bowl of fresh spring greens from La Vista CSA
Bowl of fresh spring greens from La Vista CSA | Source

It’s spring greens season at La Vista!

Late March and early April at La Vista CSA is synonymous with spring greens. Just the thought of what’s to come in spring keeps us going through the cold snowy days of January and February. Those of us lucky enough to receive this early season (limited number) share are blessed with a pound each week of fresh baby lettuces, spinach and other tender greens for five weeks.

Although each farmer who has worked the land at La Vista has varied the greens somewhat, shareholders can expect a mix that includes red and green lettuces, spinach, tatsoi and perhaps argula, chard and red kale.

What makes greens so healthful?

The health benefits of eating leafy greens can’t be overemphasized. Salad greens are loaded with vitamins A and C, as well as several of the B vitamins. Just one cup of these greens provides 70 percent of the daily recommended intake for vitamin A and 20 percent of the DRI for vitamin C. Salad greens are also a rich source of iron and calcium and numerous trace minerals including magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale also are good sources of vitamins K and E.

Plants also produce phytonutrients, a name based on the Greek word for plant. But you know them better as carotenoids, flavonoids, and isoflavones, among others. These compounds help plants stay healthy as they grow. Plants grown on an organic farm such as La Vista don’t have chemicals and pesticides to help them ward off pests and diseases so they produce even more of these phytonutrients. And what keeps the plant healthy, keeps us healthy as well.

Phytonutrients protect the body and fight disease and are associated with the prevention and treatment of several leading diseases in western countries, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Some phytonutrients help cells repair themselves by stimulating the release of protective enzymes while others inhibit cancer-producing substances and keep cardiovascular disease in check. They also are important antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory effects.


Some greens La Vista grows

Arugula (also called rocket) a peppery and slightly bitter flavor.Toss it in a salad to perk it up or gently braise it. Popular in Italian cuisine.

Dandelion greens – have a somewhat bitter flavor. Cook older greens but younger ones can be served raw in a salad.

Frisee – long, wide leaves in shades of green or sometimes red, or simply edged with red

Lollo rosso – a mild, tender lettuce with ruffled red edges

Mache or lamb's lettuce – has tender leaves and a very mild flavor

Mizuna – tender leaves and a pleasant, peppery flavor

Oakleaf lettuce –with crunchy stems and tender leaves, you can find this lettuce in red and green varieties

Radicchio – has a beautiful coloring and slightly bitter flavor

Spinach – a mild, slightly sweet taste. When cooked, its flavor becomes more acidic and robust.

Tango –has ‘frilly’ leaves and looks like endive but, with a mild tangy taste.

Tat soi – dark green spoon-shaped leaves with a soft creamy texture and a subtle yet distinctive flavor


This book uses bagged salad mixes found in grocery stores as the basis for delicious salads but you can modify them using fresh greens from an organic farm such as La Vista.
This book uses bagged salad mixes found in grocery stores as the basis for delicious salads but you can modify them using fresh greens from an organic farm such as La Vista. | Source

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

The following recipe is from a favorite cookbook of mine, Simply Salads by Jennifer Chandler.

Using packaged salad blends found in most grocery stores, Chandler put together more than 100 salads, each accompanied by a beautiful photograph and listed under various categories such as meat, seafood, and slaws. She also includes about a dozen homemade salad dressings, some specific to particular salads and more general ones in a separate section of the book.

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing (makes 4 dinner salads)

½ cup peanut dressing (below)

½ cup fresh snow peas

1 bag (or about 6 ounces) of spring greens mix

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

2 carrots, peeled and grated

¼ cup thinly sliced scallions

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

½ cup chopped roasted peanuts

2 limes, quartered, for garnish

Prepare Peanut dressing


Bring salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the snow peas and cook until vibrant green and crisp tender, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Drain the snow peas and immerse in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain again and place in a large salad bowl.

Add the spring greens mix, chicken, carrots, scallions, cilantro and peanuts and toss. Add the dressing to taste and gently toss to coat.

Garnish with lime wedges and serve immediately.

Peanut dressing (makes 1 cup)

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon finely grated freshly peeled ginger

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

½ cup canola oil

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, canola oil and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This is one of a series of hubs about La Vista Community Supported Garden in Godfrey, Illinois. I joined La Vista in 2005 and became a member of its board of directors a year later. This series – La Vista: Nurturing land and people – shares the struggles and triumphs of operating a CSA and the benefits of membership. I hope you find this series useful and interesting and, as always, feel free to leave a comment.

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Comments 19 comments

cardelean profile image

cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

YUMMY! I love fresh greens for salads and will definitely try the recipe and dressing. I liked how you talked about the different types of greens and the flavor of each. I am not familiar with some of those so it is a great guide. Nicely done!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks. It is definitely a book worth purchasing. Or at least check it out from the library.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Thanks Danette, for a very thorough hub. Dang it, sister I was going to do one on salads...well, I suppose I still can.

Loved the recipes and have been wanting a good peanut dressing recipe so thanks for that! I'm bookmarking it. (voted it up)


mannyrolando profile image

mannyrolando 5 years ago

Excellent hub Danette and now I'm craving a salad... your salad and dressing recipes sounds just right for lunch (minus the chicken). Thanks for sharing!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks Manny. The book has many vegetarian salads and others that can be made so by omitting the meat or fish. Of course the greens are wonderful on their own with just a light vinaigrette dressing too.


Loretta Giacoletto 5 years ago

Here's to leafy greeens -- the darker the better. I plant big pots of lettuce every year but this early spring crop hasn't budged for a month so I think I'll have to resow.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Yes, the darker the greens, the more nutritious they are. Good luck on your crop - I don't garden myself, just share in the organic garden in Godfrey. Still a lot of work for me, just not dirty work!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Great information! It's the season for Farmers' Markets where I live. I've already bought a lovely selection of organic salad greens and other produce from the local market. I enjoy the changing produce selection as the season progresses. Thank you for the recipes.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

AliciaC, I hope you enjoy the recipes. The current outbreak of e.coli in Europe is just another reason/reminder to eat as locally and organically as possible.


ExoticHippieQueen 5 years ago

Hey Danette, it's Exotic here..........exactly what part of Illinois are you kickin' up these awesome greens? My mouth is watering....I love fresh produce so much. Maybe you are close enough to me for me to buy some? Great article, by the way!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks EHQ, I live across the river from St. Louis and my younger son goes to school in DeKalb.

There are CSAs all over the state and country - the movement is growing and seems to diversifying. I just read something the other day about a similar concept but buying a share in a fishing community's haul.

If you go to LocalHarvest.org and do a search, you should find something around where you live.


fucsia profile image

fucsia 5 years ago

I love salads and all new ideas to make them. Thanks for sharing!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks for stopping to read my hub fucsia. I hope you find something you like in the book.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

I'm so glad I'm reading this in spring time and have already been enjoying many of these healthy spring greens.

I absolutely love salads and appreciated the recipe you included in this hub. Am always looking for ways to change things up a bit.

Voted up across the board except for funny.

Am also going to share it.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Hi Gail,Thanks for reading, voting and SHARING! Our farmer's wife made a salad for the farm's open house last year that I've been wanting to try. When I do, I'll post it. It has fruits and nuts, spring greens, cheese....it was delicious when I had it and very pretty to look at too.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 3 years ago from Minnesota

Hi Danette-what a beautiful mix of photo, recipes and information. I am a huge fan of all lettuce varieties. Voted up and many buttons and will share this useful hub.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 3 years ago from Illinois Author

Hi Minnetonka Twin! Thanks for the vote up and all the "buttons" :) As the season starts to wind down at the farm, I'm already looking forward to getting my share of spring greens next year.


BradyBones profile image

BradyBones 3 years ago from Somewhere Between a Dream and Memory

Some spring greens actually do well as winter crops. You should take a look and see what you can find out. MotherEarthNews should be a good source of info. Might make a great follow-on hub? :)


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 3 years ago from Illinois Author

Hi BradyBones, I'm not much of a farmer/gardener myself. Our farm shuts down from late Nov until early Jan when our farmers take a break before getting back into spring planning and planting. I'll have to be content to wait until mid-March or buy organic in the store. Oh well...thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment.

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