5 Unusual Leafy Green Vegetables You Should Know (and Eat!)
Sure, salad is great, but if you want to add some delightful variety to your meals, these little-known and nutritious leafy green vegetables will spice up your life.
Are you eating your vegetables?
Well, summer is a great time to cultivate your taste for nature’s superfood. One of Body Ecology’s 7 healthy eating principles is the 80/20 rule. Simply put, this means that for any meal, 80% of your plate consists of vegetables and 20% consists of either a grain OR an animal protein (but not both together!).
So if you have been lax on the 80/20 rule, now’s the time to add some delicious, healthy vegetables to your meals!
While we recommend you eat a spectrum of colors in your vegetables, green leafy vegetables are unarguably some of the best.
Benefits of Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy greens have a bounty of benefits. Packed with nutrients and fiber, yet low in calories and low on the glycemic index, you truly get bang for your nutritional buck with leafy greens.
The health benefits of leafy green vegetables are1:
- potassium, vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron, calcium and magnesium.
- Rich in phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene
- Contain carotenoids, flavonoids and other powerful antioxidants that have cancer protective properties.
Adventures In Leafy Greens
You may be bored by lettuce, everyone’s fallback for leafy green vegetables. Maybe you’ve had plenty of spinach, romaine and spring mix to last you a lifetime. Well, it’s time to branch out!
Here are 5 unusual leafy greens to add to your veggie repertoire:
- Kohlrabi – More commonly used in Europe and Asia, kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family.
This versatile vegetable’s bulb and leaves can be enjoyed in many ways. We recommend cooking or fermenting this vegetable. Why? Because kohlrabi is a member of a very large and important cruciferous family and if eaten raw it will suppress your thyroid…which may already be underactive. A sub-clinically low or underactive thyroid is very common today, even in babies.
If using the bulb, which tastes like a cross between broccoli and radish, peel the outer skin and grate or dice it for sautéing, stir frying or cooking in your favorite grain dish.
If the leaves are crisp, remove them, store them separately and steam or sauté them within two days.
- Mustard Greens – the leaves of the mustard plant, Brassica juncea, mustard greens can spice up any meal with their pungent, peppery taste. Or use them in place of swiss chard or collards for a new twist on an old favorite. Mustard greens are packed with 9 vitamins and 7 minerals, including the antioxidants: vitamins A, C and E.
Mustard greens are also a member of the cruciferous vegetable family a family of vegetables that have powerful cleansing properties and that have been shown to be protective against cancers like breast, prostate and colon cancer. But like all the members of this family mustard greens should be eaten only when cooked or fermented to remove the thyroid-suppressing properties.
- Bok Choy – Another member of this cabbage or cruceriferous family, bok choy’s crisp mild texture makes it ideal for stir fries. Whether you use regular or baby bok choy, choose leaves that are crisp and green, not yellowed.
An obviously repeated statement, this cruciferous vegetable needs cooking or fermenting when you eat it if you are concerned about your thyroid.
- Fennel– You may have used fennel seeds to spice up your meals, but if you haven’t tried fresh fennel, you are in for a treat!
Most often associated with Italian cooking, fennel is rich in phytonutrients (rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides) with antioxidant properties3.
With a delicious aniseed flavour and a crisp texture, fennel resembles celery topped by feathery green leaves (almost like fresh dill in appearance). The stalks can be cut up and added raw to salads or sautéed with your favorite vegetables or Body Ecology grain-like seeds.
And if you want a fantastic treat that will wow your whole family, Body Ecology’s Broccoli Fennel soup is not to be missed! The blended Broccoli Fennel soup is an excellent and easily digested way to get your greens. You can get this recipe and many others in The Body Ecology Diet.
- Beet Greens – You may be familiar with the red beets root but may not be eating their delicious green tops. The red root is very sweet when juiced or when cooked so we do not recommend them on the initial stages of The Diet because they feed yeast. Fermenting them, which removes most of the sugar, is fine of course!
However, when you go shopping ask the grocer to sell you the beet GREENS and they will often rip them right off the beet roots and not even charge you for them since they often just throw them away.
If you are purchasing beets to ferment, also buy the greens as well. You’ll often find that you can purchase two vegetables for the price of one!
You can ferment the beets as a single vegetable in a jar all by themselves or perhaps with herbs like anise, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and even peppercorn.
This simple cultured vegetable recipe is great for your liver. You can also obtain the benefits of leafy greens from the beet tops to cook separately or to ferment as you wish.
Beets greens contain large amounts of vitamins K and A, along with large amounts of anti-oxidants beta Carotene and Lutein4.
Mom was right, it’s good to eat your greens! Including greens with every meal is a sure way to contribute to good health. Ideally, you’d start each day with them, which is why we created Vitality SuperGreens. With this green drink, you receive all the benefits of greens along with probiotics and gut-healing properties that boost your energy and immunity. Get your greens with Vitality SuperGreen – Read More Now!
Some studies have been shown that cooking green leafy vegetables can reduce the oxalic acid5.
Many studies and health professionals recommend that the oxalic acid content in vegetables is too low to cause concern, unless you are at risk for gout or need to increase your calcium intake.
Keep in mind that these studies also show that having a healthy digestive tract, chewing your food well and minimizing stress during meals is an ideal way to ensure you get the best benefits from your green leafy vegetables.
Everyone agrees that leafy green vegetables are a great way to get the nutrients you need for great health.
So if you want to tantalize your taste buds, try some of these little known leafy greens in your meals this summer!
- Craig, Winston, MPH, PhD, RD. Health Benefits of Green Leafy Vegetables. Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD.
- Mattern, Vicki. Cool Kohlrabi. Mother Earth News. August/September 2007.
- Fennel. The World’s Healthiest Foods.
- Mustard Greens. The World’s Healthiest Foods.
- Oxalic Acid and Food.