Spring Mix 101 – The Basics (REVISED)
About Spring Mix
Although there is no one specific formula for the types of greens that make up Spring Mix, it contains a variety of fresh greens with different tastes and textures. These include red romaine, baby spinach, radicchio, green romaine, red oak leaf, mizuna, red leaf, Lolo rosso, arugula, red mustard, green mustard, red chard, frisée, and tatsoi. It contains a mixture of sweet and mild, and also slightly bitter flavors. The variety of greens may vary among different brands. Spring Mix is available year-round in most grocery stores, with the peak season being the warmer months from spring through summer. Spring Mix may also be known as mesclun (derived from the Spanish word “mezclar” which means “to mix”). Traditional mesclun usually consists of a mixture of chervil, arugula, lettuce, and endive.
Nutrition and Health Benefits
Spring Mix greens contain good amounts of Vitamins A (carotenoids), C, and K, folate, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, fiber, and even a little protein. It is a very low sodium food with only about 95 mg in a 2-cup serving. It is very low in calories, with 2 cups having about 20 calories. Like all leafy greens, Spring Mix is considered to be a nutrient dense food, meaning it has a lot of nutrients with few calories. Along with that comes a number of health benefits.
Bone Health. Calcium and Vitamin K both play important roles in maintaining healthy bones. Dark leafy greens contain both of those key nutrients and are one of the best dietary sources of Vitamin K. Numerous studies have shown that getting enough calcium, Vitamin D (which we can get from sunlight), and Vitamin K, along with regular weight-bearing exercise appears to offer the best protection against osteoporosis. Eating dark leafy greens, including Spring Mix, on a regular basis can help to meet those needs.
Supports a Healthy Pregnancy. Spring Mix provides some nutrients (especially folate, Vitamin K and calcium), that are needed for a healthy pregnancy. A study in Ethiopia, that involved 374 pregnant women found that women that had poor or inconsistent intakes of dark leafy greens, dairy products, and fruit had higher risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm births, low birth weight infants, and stillborn infants. The results showed that dark leafy greens may play a role in healthy pregnancy outcomes.
Furthermore, folate (which is in a substantial amount in Spring Mix) has long been shown to play a role in preventing birth defects, such as neural tube defects, early in pregnancy. Other nutrients in Spring Mix also support fetal development along with healthy gestational weight gain.
Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Research has shown that diets that regularly include leafy greens (along with other healthy foods) is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In a study reported in the June 2010 issue of JAMA Neurology, researchers followed the diets of 2,148 elderly people, age 65 and over for four years. Their neurological functions were tested every 18 months. During the course of the study, 253 individuals developed Alzheimer’s Disease. At the end of the study, dietary patterns were compared and adjustments were made for assorted variables. Researchers found that those who had higher intakes of salads and salad dressings, nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, cruciferous vegetables, fruits, and dark and green leafy vegetables along with a lower intake of high-fat dairy products, red meat, organ meat, and butter had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. This clearly shows that following such a dietary pattern can help ward off this disease. Including Spring Mix in the diet along with other leafy greens on a regular basis can help to protect you from developing this Alzheimer’s Disease in later years.
Helps Protect Vision. Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in older people. Spring Mix contains a variety of carotenoids, including lutein, which are known to concentrate in the retina of the eye and protect against harmful oxidation. Consuming Spring Mix along with a source of healthy fat (such as olives or nuts), improves the bioavailability of such fat-soluble compounds and can help to protect our vision as we age.
Supports Heart Health. Consuming a lot of leafy greens, such as Spring Mix, along with other vegetables has been shown to prevent atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Furthermore, potassium has been shown to help keep blood pressure under control. Spring Mix can help to provide a substantial amount of potassium when eaten on a regular basis. Also, Spring Mix provides assorted antioxidants (such as Vitamin C) that help to protect against cardiovascular damage over time. It is well established that routinely eating leafy greens, such as Spring Mix, along with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help to keep the heart and cardiovascular system strong and healthy.
How to Select Spring Mix
When shopping for Spring Mix, it’s very important to choose greens that look fresh and dry. If there are beads of moisture in the package or box, choose a different package, if possible. Greens that have moisture in the packaging will not be the freshest available, and the added moisture will cause the greens to age quickly, get slimy, and spoil.
It’s also very important to look for the “Best By” date and choose the date furthest out, into the future. This will help to ensure that your greens will last the longest so you won’t have to discard them before finishing the package. Be sure to use them before the “Best By” date. It’s helpful to buy no more than what you would eat within a week.
Spring Mix greens purchased in plastic tubs tend to last longer than those sold in bags because the tubs help to protect them from getting damaged. So, choose the plastic tubs over the bags, if they are available. If you must buy Spring Mix in a plastic bag, it would be helpful to transfer the greens to a rigid refrigerator container when you get them home. (See more about this below.)
How to Store Spring Mix
Store your Spring Mix in the original plastic tub in the refrigerator in an area where it won’t accidentally freeze. To help prolong its life, open the container and place a fresh paper towel on top of the greens, then reclose the container and store it in the refrigerator. If desired, you could also empty the container, and line the bottom with a fresh paper towel, return the greens to the tub, then place a fresh paper towel on top of the greens before reclosing the container (this may be easier said than done). The added paper towel(s) to the tub help to soak up moisture that is released by the greens, which helps to keep them from resting against the liquid, which would cause them to age quickly. Keeping them chilled, in a humid, yet dry environment (without resting against moisture droplets) prolongs their shelf life as much as possible and prevents leaves from becoming soggy, wilted, and spoiled.
If you purchased Spring Mix in a plastic bag, it is helpful to transfer the mix to a rigid refrigerator container when you get them home. Line the bottom of the container with a fresh paper towel, add the greens, then top them with another fresh paper towel. That will help to keep them dry while protecting them from damage from being bumped or squashed while in the refrigerator.
How to Prepare Spring Mix
Spring Mix greens are usually washed commercially before being packaged, so you could simply remove what you need from the packaging and use it as desired. If you need to wash your Spring Mix greens, do so as needed when you are about to use them for a meal. They should not be washed in advance, because any moisture left on them will cause them to age, become soggy, wilt, and spoil.
Tips and Ideas for Using Spring Mix
* Spring Mix can be used alone or mixed with other greens for a delicious salad.
* When using only Spring Mix in a leafy salad, use lightweight dressings and ingredients, as the tender greens don’t hold up well with heavy ingredients.
* Add salad dressings to Spring Mix right before serving, not in advance. The tender leaves will wilt quickly when left to soak in a dressing, so it’s best to apply dressing at the last minute.
* Since Spring Mix greens are so lightweight and tender, it’s helpful to limit the amount of salad toppings in a Spring Mix salad, so the greens don’t get flattened down.
* Spring Mix can also be used as a bed of greens for fresh or grilled fruits and other vegetables.
* Toss greens, walnuts, and cranberries in a sweet balsamic dressing. Top with a cheese of choice.
* Add mixed greens, olives, feta, pepperoncini, and cucumber in a bowl. Add olive oil and lemon. Toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.
* Take your favorite homemade or premixed grain salad and toss in a handful of baby greens.
* Add candied or roasted pecans to your mixed greens and toss in a bowl with feta or goat cheese. Top with fresh raspberries.
* Use extra Spring Mix to make a green smoothie. Blend a couple handfuls with a banana and some other fruit or other favorite smoothie ingredients and enjoy!
* Spring Mix can also be lightly sautéed in a little fat of your choice along with garlic, sesame seeds, and other flavorings. Top it off with a little vinegar or lemon juice to brighten the flavor.
* Spring Mix can also be used as a substitute for spinach in any dish, cooked or raw.
* If a recipe calls for Spring Mix and you don’t have any or enough for the recipe, you could substitute any young, tender leafy salad greens such as spinach or baby kale leaves. If you don’t have those available, use any leaf lettuce that you have, such as green leaf, red leaf, oak leaf, or a butterhead lettuce such as Boston or Bibb. Even young arugula leaves and radicchio could be used. Use a mixture of what you have!
* Try quickly steaming Spring Mix with no special equipment. I show how to steam Spring Mix in this video, Easiest Steamed Spring Mix… https://youtu.be/4bZ1cI-2U9c I have also steamed spinach the same way in the following video, FAST and EASY Steamed Spinach … https://youtu.be/ZWuZHxdPGxg
Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Spring Mix
Anise seeds, basil, capers, chervil, cilantro, dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, mustard powder, parsley, pepper (black), salt, tarragon, thyme
Foods That Go Well with Spring Mix
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general), beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, hazelnuts, lentils, nuts (in general, especially toasted), pine nuts, pistachios, pork, poultry, pumpkin seeds, seafood, sesame seeds, sugar snap peas, sunflower seeds, tahini, tofu, walnuts
Vegetables: Beets, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, chiles, chives, cucumbers, fennel, jicama, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, radishes, scallions, shallots, sprouts, summer squash, tomatoes
Fruits: Apples, avocados, blackberries, cranberries (dried), lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, pears, pomegranates, raisins
Grains and Grain Products: Corn and corn chips, croutons, quinoa, rice, wheat
Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Cheese (i.e., blue, Brie, cheddar, goat, Gorgonzola, Parmesan)
Other Foods: Honey, mayonnaise, mustard (prepared), oil (i.e., flaxseed, grapeseed, olive), salad dressings, tamari, vinegar (i.e., balsamic, red wine, sherry, white wine)
Spring Mix has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Salads (i.e., grain, green, potato), sandwiches, veggie burgers, wraps
Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Spring Mix
Add Spring Mix to any of the following combinations…
Almonds + Avocado + Carrots + Smoked Tofu + Tomatoes
Apples + Celery + Hazelnuts
Apples + Celery + Lime + Raisins + Walnuts
Avocado + Cilantro
Avocado + Lime
Avocado + Pumpkin Seeds
Balsamic Vinegar + Garlic + Mustard + Olive Oil
Blue Cheese + Pears + Walnuts
Carrots + Cucumbers + Dill + Feta Cheese
Chickpeas + Cucumbers + Feta Cheese + Olives + Red Onions + Tomatoes
Dijon Mustard + Lemon + Olive Oil + Scallions
Dill (Weed) + Garlic + Lemon + Scallions
Fruit + Toasted Pecans + Dried Cherries + Croutons
Goat Cheese + Pecans
Goat Cheese + Strawberries
Green Olives + Toasted Almonds + Vinaigrette Dressing
Lentils + Rice
Pears + Walnuts + Sherry Vinegar
Grilled Chicken and Grape Spring Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey-Balsamic Dressing https://www.cookingclassy.com/grilled-chicken-and-grape-spring-salad-with-goat-cheese-and-honey-balsamic-dressing/
Greek Chicken, Garden Vegetable, and Spring Mix Salad https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/greek-chicken-garden-vegetable-and-spring-mix-salad-recipe-2125971
Spring Mix Salad with Grilled Chicken, Avocado, and Citrus Vinaigrette http://www.dolesalads.ca/recipes/spring-mix-salad-with-grilled-chicken-avocado-and-citrus-vinaigrette/
Karen’s Spring Mix Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/24383/karens-spring-mix-salad/
Spring Mix Salad with Blueberries, Goat Cheese and Walnuts https://www.wholesomeyum.com/recipes/spring-mix-salad-recipe-with-blueberries-goat-cheese-and-walnuts-low-carb-gluten-free/
Mixed Greens with Bacon and Herbs https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/mixed-greens-with-bacon-and-herbs-106197
Spring Mix Salad https://www.acouplecooks.com/spring-mix-salad/
31 Recipes for Spring Greens https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/spring-greens-recipes-gallery
Spring Mix Salad Recipe https://foolproofliving.com/spring-mix-salad/#wprm-recipe-container-49324
Spring Mix Salad https://www.theendlessmeal.com/spring-mix-salad/
25 Recipes to Finish Off That Package of Mixed Greens https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/mixed-greens-recipes/
The Best Spring Mix Salad Ever https://lexiscleankitchen.com/the-best-spring-mix-salad-ever/#wprm-recipe-container-506442
Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.
Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.