Recipes: Greener Days For You And Your Poultry

Healthy Eating For You And Your Chickens

Recipes: Greener Days For You And Your Poultry

By Janice Cole, Minnesota

After a winter that started with an Arctic blast bringing half a foot of snow and plunging temperatures that remained below freezing for endless weeks, ny now, my chickens are eagerly awaiting a spring thaw and the taste of those first blades of delicate grass. More than warmer temps and the freedom to run, my girls seem to miss their daily dose of tender leaves the most. I supplement their winter rations with store-bought greens when possible, but as we all know, fresh grown right-out-of-theground always tastes best.

In aiming for a healthier diet (for me, not the chickens), I’ve begun adding more greens to my recipes and enjoy the variety of flavors, textures and healthful properties.

The term “greens” traditionally described large leafy vegetables with strong, sometimes bitter, flavors and was usually associated with southern food where long cooking tamed their assertive flavors and textures. Today, the term greens refers to a wider variety of plants, including many that can be eaten raw or lightly cooked, broadening their appeal and acceptance.

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Greens have taken over a large part of the grocery produce section and appear regularly on restaurant menus including restaurant chains. The greens revolution is no longer limited to those who gulp kale smoothies for breakfast, only eat pizza topped with a forest of greens and know the difference between mizuna and lacinato. Greens have joined the mainstream in large part because they’re not only nutrient dense, they also taste great. To start your own green exploration, you don’t need to be able to identify a delicate Japanese green from dinosaur kale, just begin slowly by adding a new or different green into a favorite recipe and you’ll soon find yourself a convert.

In addition to exploring the multitude of greens now available in the store or farmer’s market, don’t forget about looking in your own backyard. Like my chickens, I get excited over the first spring shoots that appear in the yard from delicate herbs like chives and chervil to edible wild greens such as nettles and dandelions.

While I can’t claim to be an actual forager, I really love going out to the backyard and picking these greens. There’s just something so satisfying about taking a common weed and turning it into dinner. Not only are they free, they’re exceedingly tasty and full of nutrients.

One of the unexpected benefits I’ve discovered to adding a wider variety of greens to my diet is that the chickens gain more variety in their diet as I let them share the outer ragged leaves, thicker stems and parts that would otherwise go into a compost heap. They love it and we benefit as their egg yolks bear the bright color of this great, nutrition-packed supplement.



Beet Top


• Dark green with red veins

• Young leaves are more tender and mild

• Use raw in salads or cooked. Great substitute for spinach.

• Excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C




• Large curly leaves, colorful veins and stems that range from white to yellow, orange, purple, pink or red.

• Mild, tender and flavorful. Stems and leaves are edible; stems take slightly longer to cook.

• Can be eaten raw or cooked.

• Excellent source of vitamins A and C.




• Paddle-shaped collard greens are part of the cabbage family and have a mild flavor that easily adapts to other fl avors.

• For quick cooking, blanch the leaves in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes before quickly sautéing. Or add to soups and stews and cook long and slow until tender. Stems should be discarded.

• Excellent source of vitamins C and K.




• Long notched tender leaves with a slightly bitter taste. Sold in bunches or pick your own from pesticide-free areas.

• Young delicate leaves have the best flavor; older leaves are strong and bitter. Pick leaves before dandelion flower opens.

• Use raw in salads or quickly cooked in stir-fries or sautés.

• Excellent source of vitamins C and K.




• Numerous varieties of kale exist from curly green to Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato, black or dinosaur kale) to red kale, in addition to the ornamental varieties with ruffles of white, green and purple leaves. All types are edible and have a mild peppery flavor.

• Use raw or cooked in dishes.

• Baby kale is a combination of several types with a mild sweet flavor. A perfect introduction to kale and excellent in salads.

• Excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K.




• Long scalloped slightly ruffled leaves.

• Strong mustard flavor when eaten raw; milder and less pungent when cooked.

• Excellent source of vitamins A and C.




• Also known as stinging nettles, wear gloves when picking and preparing. (Don’t worry, cooking removes the stinging effect.)

• Long notched leaves.

• Use only the young leaves; older leaves are coarse, strong and fibrous.

• Excellent source of vitamin A, calcium and iron.




• Widely available in both baby and mature leaves.

• Mild sweet flavor when eaten raw or cooked.

• Excellent source of vitamins A and C, folate, calcium and potassium.




• Vibrant green leaves with a slightly ruffl ed edge.

• Tender young leaves are mild; older leaves have a stronger peppery flavor.

• Can be eaten raw or cooked for a milder fl avor.

• Excellent source of vitamins C and K, folate and calcium.



Maple-Bacon Greens

Maple Bacon Greens


This hearty side dish is perfect for the warm days and chilly nights we experience in between seasons. Serve it along with roasted meat or top with a fried egg to make it a complete meal by itself.


4 slices bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

6 cups slightly packed chopped greens such as collard, chard, kale, dandelion and/or beet (6 oz.)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon orange juice

1. Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until bacon is almost brown and crispy, stirring frequently. Add onion; continue cooking 3 minutes or until onion is soft ened, stirring frequently.

2. Add greens; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until slightly wilted, tossing frequently with tongs. Season with pepper, salt and nutmeg.

3. Add maple syrup and orange juice; increase heat to medium-high.

Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

4 servings • Copyright 2014 Janice Cole


Ricotta Pasta with Garlicky Spring Greens

Ricotta Pasta
Ricotta Pasta with Garlicky Spring Greens.

This quick dish can be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta. If available, garnish with a couple tablespoons of chopped spring herbs such as chives, tarragon and chervil.


8 oz. bow tie pasta

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 cups slightly packed chopped mixed greens such as dandelion, kale, spinach, watercress, arugula and/or turnip

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta, preferably fresh ricotta, room temperature

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

2. Meanwhile, slowly cook oil, garlic and crushed red pepper in large nonstick skillet over medium-low to low heat 3 minutes until garlic is slightly soft ened and oil is infused with fl avor, stirring constantly.

3. Add greens; cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or until greens are wilted, stirring frequently Add cooked pasta, salt and pepper; toss until combined. Gently stir in ricott a.

4 servings • Copyright 2014 Janice Cole


Creamy Nettle-Chive Soup

Creamy Nettle-Chive Soup
Creamy Nettle-Chive Soup.

There’s something very satisfying about making dinner out of something called a weed. Not surprisingly this soup has an intense green herbal fl avor that really captures the feel of spring. The secret behind this cream soup is the lack of cream; its creamy texture is cleverly created by using cooked rice. One note of caution, when picking and working with the nett les, wear gloves until you cook them or soak them in a bowl of water. (Adapted fr om Th e Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld.)


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cups lower-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons long grain white rice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

5 cups slightly packed nettle leaves, arugula or watercress

1 cup packed baby spinach

1 cup sliced fresh chives

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 4 to 6 minutes or until soft ened. Add the chicken broth, rice, salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low to low and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until the rice is very tender and soft .

2. Increase heat and bring soup mixture to a boil, add the nett les, spinach and chives and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree until smooth with immersion blender or cool slightly and puree in batches in blender.

4 servings


Chopped Green Slaw

Chopped Green Slaw
Chopped Green Slaw.

A cross between a chopped salad and a coleslaw this salad is a great do-ahead salad perfect for potlucks or barbecues.

Salad Ingredients:

1 cup chopped greens such as chard, kale, spinach, dandelion and/or turnip

1 cup cabbage slaw mix

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup chopped dried apricots

2 tablespoons chopped green onions

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

1 tablespoon rice or tarragon vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Toss all salad ingredients, except pecans, together in medium bowl to blend.

2. Whisk all dressing ingredients in small bowl until blended. Pour dressing over salad to lightly coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour. Sprinkle with pecans right before serving.

Copyright 2014 Janice Cole.

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