Leeks: An Ally in the Fight for Better Health
Leeks are a member of the allium family, known for being odiferous as well as providing many health benefits. But unlike their cousins, onions and garlic, whose flavor can overpower delicate dishes, leeks add a subtle spice, and are wonderful in light, spring vegetable soups and sautés. Leeks costar with potatoes in the traditional French chilled puree, vichyssoise. However, at 280 calories and 25 grams of fat per serving, the traditional recipe may be a bit too rich. Try substituting low-fat milk for heavy cream (and just call it Leek & Potato Soup while you’re at it), and this fancy sounding favorite can be a quick and easy go-to Phase 2 recipe.
How to Select, Prepare, and Store
Although they are grown year round, leeks are most widely available winter through early spring. They have long, green, tightly wound leaves, whose stem pales to white.
- Choose hardy leeks about an inch or so in diameter.
- Use only the stem from bulb to green and save the leaves to make vegetable stock, they are too tough and fibrous to eat.
- Wash leeks thoroughly by slicing across the diameter and soaking the circles in water then draining, or by cutting the stem lengthwise, separating the leaves and rinsing in between.
- Take your time with this - there’s nothing worse than a mouthful of sand in your dinner!
- Store leeks for up to a week, unwashed and uncooked, in the fridge. After cooking, their shelf life is three days or less, but cooked leeks can be frozen for future use in soups.
Steam or sauté leeks with:
- Zucchini squash and tomatoes then add to HMR Lasagna or Chicken Pasta Parmesan Entrees
- Mushrooms or fennel with lemon
- Tofu and pea pods
A good source of dietary fiber, vitamins A, K, C and the mineral manganese, leeks also offer an impressive array of antioxidants and flavonoids and are a welcome addition to any vegetable stir-fry. These beneficial chemicals protect blood vessel linings from damage and support the body’s natural healing of diseases that occur from inflammation and oxidative stress.
Added bonus: Have some family fun with leeks by planting the bulbs and roots instead of discarding them. Watch as the leaves shoot back up and multiply by magic! Cultivate the power of leeks in your own kitchen garden: they are a tried and true ally in the fight for better health!
About the Author
Sandi Braithwaite, from our Consumer Relations Department, has been a member of the HMR team since 2002. She has her hands in several areas of the company, from marketing to being a weight loss coach. When Sandi’s not working, she’s teaching dance & exercise classes & cooking up new recipes.
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