It`s probably the best time to talk about leafy greens – it`s June, everything`s in full bloom and in season and greens should definitely be the basis of your diet at the time.
So, first things first, nutritional value. Aside from supplying conventional nutrients, all leafy greens (especially the deeply colored ones) are rich in phytonutrients, plant-manufactured compounds that deliver special health benefits. All greens are low in calories and a serving of just about any of the deeply colored ones contains your daily supply of vitamins K and A, most of your daily vitamin C, and a hefty helping of fiber, B vitamins and essential minerals. As a class of food, leafy greens contain more nitrate than other foods. Recent researches show that dietary nitrate helps lower blood pressure, enhance cardiovascular health, and enhance athletic performance, among other benefits. The real beauty of leafy green vegetables is that they are easily available anywhere and everywhere and are literally nature’s supplements, full of energy and nutrients. They are completely safe and can be consumed by people of all ages and health conditions.
Now that we have reinforced the benefits of leafy greens, it is time to make it a habit to consume them every day. Make a resolution to add more leafy vegetables to your diet, as they are not only low in calories but also high in nutrients.You can choose from a variety of options including kale, collards, spinach, bok choy, Swiss chard, arugula, cabbage, romaine lettuce and much more so that you don’t get bored. Combine lettuce with other greens like kale and spinach and add some other vegetables to make your daily bowl of salad even more interesting.
Here are some other ways to enjoy leafy green vegetables:
- Try out a green smoothie. Blend spinach or kale with a sweet fruit and add some milk or yogurt along with ice. It will turn out to be delicious and you won’t even taste the vegetables! It also makes a perfect post-workout drink.
- Go for a quick stir-fry noodles recipe – heat some olive oil and sauté some garlic, add some chopped leafy green vegetables with other colorful vegetables and toss in the noodles.
- Add leafy greens to your soups and pasta sauces for a unique taste.
- Try lettuce wraps or use steamed collards as tortillas and fill it with your favorite protein.
- Simply place a couple of leafy greens in your sandwich to increase its nutritional value instantly.
- Start your day with a healthy dose of leafy greens. They go well with any variety of eggs. Try it once, and you’ll love it.
So now, a recipe! Incorporate greens in your diet by making Stir-Fried Asian Greens with Chilies and Garlic!
For 4 people, you`ll need:
- 1 medium-size bunch (about 13 ounces) tender Asian greens, such as bok choi, baby bok choi, baby Shanghai choi, choi sum, baby kai lan, or water spinach
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, bruised until juicy with a flat side of knife, and coarsely chopped into 3 or 4 chunks
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 2 fresh red Holland chilies or other hot fresh red long chilies
- Wash the greens in several changes of the coldest possible water.
- Cut the cleaned greens into pieces 2-1/2 to 3 inches long. If any of the stems are particularly wide — say, more than 1 inch — or are tough or sinewy-looking, cut them in half lengthwise. If you’re using baby bok choi or baby Shanghai choi, you can either leave the heads whole or cut them in half lengthwise — it’s up to you. Spin the greens dry in a salad dryer or set them aside to air-dry on a kitchen towel or paper towels; they needn’t be bone dry — a little dampness won’t matter.
- Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. When it’s hot but not smoking — it should appear shimmery — add the garlic, the salt, and, if using, the chilies. Sauté, stirring until the garlic just begins to lose its rawness, about 1 minute. (Try not to let the garlic turn golden or golden brown, which would give this dish an inappropriate roasted taste.)
- Add the greens. Raise the heat slightly and immediately begin to vigorously stir-fry the greens around the pot. Continue to vigorously stir-fry the greens until they just begin to go limp but the leaves remain a spring-green color and the stems are still crunchy-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the type of greens. Taste for salt, adding only a pinch more if necessary (a little salt goes a long way with greens).
- Transfer the cooked greens to a large serving platter and serve promptly. Be careful not to pile the greens in a small bowl; since the greens will continue to cook for a minute or two after they’re removed from the heat, a serving bowl that crowds them may cause them to overcook and become mushy.
So, get cooking and enjoy green vegetables as much as possible!