Remember back in kindergarten when you were taught to be nice to everyone? Treat everyone with respect? Don’t judge or make assumptions? I think, it’s safe to say, that’s what has happened with leafy greens. With some memory of slimy spinach on our dinner plate at four years old, we’ve simply decided that, as an adult, we don’t have to subject ourselves to the pure torture of enjoying them.
Surely, we won’t convince you how wonderful they are, but we’re ready for the challenge.
You see, leafy greens are extremely low in calories, but so high in nutrition, that you get an awful lot of bang for your buck. Here’s an example: 1 cup of boiled spinach can provide you with about 295% of the daily value for vitamin A, and 30% of the daily value for vitamin C [source].
This doesn’t mean you have to slop boiled spinach on your plate, but what about adding it to a rich, minestrone, or hiding it in a few layers of lasagna? It’s just a cup, and clearly, a little goes a long way.
Not convinced? Here’s the clincher: In that same cup of boiled spinach hides over 1000% (that’s right, a thousand) of the daily value for vitamin K, important to maintain bone health. Combined with this are good sources of calcium and magnesium.
So, this isn’t just about spinach. In fact, all leafy greens have a little extra something.
In general, leafy greens are vitamin rich, most often with B, C, E and K. Minerals are abundant, primarily found in the form of calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Then combine the phytonutrients (like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, all essential for eye health) and Omega-3 fatty acids. Oh, and the variety of carotenoids, flavonoids and antioxidants that have cancer-protective properties.
And so on, and so forth. Not too many other vegetables can live up to the all mighty greens.
The Leafy Green Run-Down
Kale: pungent, earthy, but keeps its girth and doesn’t break down too much when added in soups, stirfries, or even steamed
Collard Greens: rich smoky flavor, popular in Southern cuisine
Mustard Greens: strong and peppery, they are a great addition for a bit of zing
Turnip Greens: pleasant, with a subtle bitter flavour
Romaine Lettuce: crispy and hearty, it nutritionally outweighs most other lettuces, most notably iceberg
Bok Choy: a type of Chinese cabbage, bok choy is mild, and withstands a crispness during cooking
Kohlrabi: a member of the cabbage family, the leaves are mild, while the bulb tastes like a cross between broccoli and radish
Beet Greens: mild and pleasant, they aren’t as sweet as their bright red roots, but add them to any dish for a perfect way to use up the whole vegetable
Swiss Chard: in a variety of colours, swiss chard is slightly sweet and tender, making it very palatable and easy to digest
Image courtesy of vegalicious.org