Hearts of Palm: lovin’ them!

Poor hearts of palm – I’m betting there’s many folks out there who don’t know what they are or have never eaten them. That’s why today I’m shining the spotlight on this nutritious, yet overlooked vegetable. Most vegetables taste better “fresh.” But hearts of palm aren’t like most vegetables. In fact, they are best when they come in cans or jars. I’m particularly fond of the Trader Joe’s brand, but most grocery stores carry them.

Hearts of palm come from the core of certain types of palm trees. They have a very subtle flavor – slightly nutty. Canned or jarred hearts of palm are plump 3” tender stalks. Slice them into salads (right out of the can) to give your greens an extra zing AND to reap some health benefits to boot!

Here’s the low-down on this forgotten vegetable:

– low in calories and also low in fat

– high in Vitamins C and B6

– contains fiber and protein

– a good source of minerals such as potassium, iron and copper

– they contain antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation

Ready to give them a try? Here’s some easy recipes and ideas:

Lettuce Wedge Hearts of Palm Salad:  Take a head of Iceberg Lettuce and divide it into 6 to 8 wedges. Place a wedge on each plate. Top each wedge with your favorite blue cheese dressing and drizzle extra dressing around the wedge. Then top wedges with chopped walnuts (optional: bacon bits). Drain and rinse the canned hearts of palm. Arrange several hearts of palm slices around the wedges. Serve. My personal pick for blue cheese dressing: Marzetti’s chunky blue cheese dressing found in refrigerator section in most grocery stores.

Hearts of Palm Dip:  Drain and rinse a can of hearts of palm. In blender or food processor:  blend together the hearts of palm with 1 to 2 tablespoons of sour cream or yogurt (to taste) until smooth and creamy. You can also add a tablespoon of buttermilk or cream (optional).  Season with salt and pepper. Serve with plantain chips, carrot sticks or crackers.

Load up this spring and summer with healthy salads. Make your favorite salad, but this time, add some hearts of palm for a new twist. Don’t let this healthy and tasty veggie go overlooked in your pantry!



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