All know that greens are good for health and most of you are probably already eating some of them with healthy smoothies or in spicy stir fries. Spinach and kale have been on the radar of healthy food activists for a long time now, but not many of you know that the world of leafy greens is much, much more than that. Chard, arugula, bok choy, dandelion – the list goes on almost endlessly! Not all greens are created equal and not all of them you should consume raw. That’s right, cooking your spinach will give it a necessary twist for your body to absorb all the nutrients it contains. And that’s not all! Here’s your ultimate guide to leafy greens and how to eat them.
Bok choy is an Asian leafy green that is packed with yummy and healthy goods. It promotes healthy gut and produces anti-inflammation substances as well as allergy-fighting compounds. Usually bok choy leaves are quite tough, which makes them perfect for juicing. One of the best ways to benefit from that is combine bok choy leaves with ginger and apple for a kickass detox juice. For salads and , it’s best to use baby bok choy as it is softer and easier to chew.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan you’ve probably faced the protein problem. Are we getting enough and what do we eat to get our daily dose? Well, you need to worry no more because a cup of collard greens packs 5 grams of protein as well as other nutritious goodies like B6 vitamins that prevent cancer, calcium, and tryptophan that will make you sleep like a baby. You can turn collard greens into chips, just like you do with kale, and eat them however you want. They’re also great as a midnight snack!
Not many healthy eaters think about it, but arugula can actually be a substitute for baby spinach in many dishes. Wilt it, cook it into soups, frittatas, and risottos – the taste will be flavourful with a bit of a bite in the end. What makes arugula so good apart from being yummy? It’s a source of manganese, vitamins A, C, K and bunch of other antioxidants, all of which help with protecting the bones.
Dandelion greens are definitely not your typical choice for salad, but you should definitely give them a try due to the amazing nutritious properties. They are packed with potassium, promote liver health, and are great detoxifiers. So if you want to keep your body clean, throw a bunch of dandelion greens in your salad or eat them separately Mediterranean-style with lime juice and olive oil.
Chard is both good-looking and incredibly healthy. This is one of those leaves that become easier to digest when cooked – they even look better after you blanch them for some time! Add onions or lentils to make it into a separate dish, or add to a hot salad. Chard is rich with fibre, chlorophyll, iron, and antioxidants. It also contains carotenoids that block harmful UV rays and protect your eyes.
All the hype surrounding kale is more than reasonable – this nutrient-rich dark leafy green is definitely the King of all greens. It improves a variety of body functions and purifies the liver with a bunch of phytochemical compounds. Kale also promotes weight loss as it fights off chemical compounds responsible for the storage of body fat. Cooking kale is also fun – eat it raw with olive oil and lemon juice in salads, stir fry it, add it to smoothies, or bake yummy and extremely healthy kale chips. Braising is yet another way to eat this miraculous leafy green.
Spinach has been around for ages and you can find it literally anywhere. If kale is the king of greens, then spinach is definitely the queen. It’s one of those versatile leafy greens that can either be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of dishes. You’ll absorb more iron and carotenes if you cook spinach, so think about adding it into a quiche. Yet, some nutrients get lost with the heat, so eating it raw in a salad or throwing it in your morning smoothies is another way to enjoy all of its benefits.
Not many of us know that the darker the leaves of the greens, the more nutritional value they have. This means it’s time to swap your regular lettuce with darker and healthier romaine. It contains antioxidants and tryptophan, an amino acid that will help you sleep better. You can eat romaine raw, but lightly stir frying it is yet another great way to eat this type of lettuce. Enjoy!
This is that rare case when the smaller, the better! These veggie shoots of all above mentioned greens (and more!) are basically superfoods packed with more goodness than you can imagine. Microgreens are picked as soon as first small leaves appear, which makes their nutritional value quite unique. They contain a concentrated amount of vitamins and you’ll be consuming much more of them compared to regular grown-up greens. Add microgreens to your sandwiches or sprinkle them over salads. They are quite tender so it’s best not to fry them. Make sure you buy organic microgreens or grow them yourself.