When it comes to leafy greens, most of us rely on the basics like romaine, leaf lettuce and spinach week after week – Don’t get me wrong, they provide so many health benefits and they are absolutely delicious and always in my fridge, but there is a huge selection of leafy greens in the produce aisle or at your local farmers market that you could potentially be missing out on!
The weather is finally warm and I love going to my local farmstead and seeing what they have. I also grow my own variety of leafy greens. They are so easy to grow! Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can grow lettuce, kale, swiss chard. Trust Me! Because my thumb is not the greenest.
Shaking things up can help keep things fun and interesting in the kitchen while also diversifying your nutrient intake.
We’ve all heard that it’s important to eat those green vegetables and we have to say, that age-old recommendation has merit! Leafy green vegetables are a total nutrition powerhouse providing plant-based calcium, iron and magnesium, plus vitamins A, C and K (vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and bone health).
If you don’t like the taste of one variety, chances are you can find an alternative. It might also be a matter of how it’s being prepared so don’t hesitate to do some experimenting.
Here are some of my favorites along with simple ways you can try incorporating them into your regular rotation:
Honestly, this is my favorite leafy green and actually the inspiration behind my logo. This leafy green typically has a gorgeous bright pink or yellow stem. Due to the large size of the leaves, chard makes a nice swap for tortillas (a great low-carbohydrate option!). You can also sauté the delicate leaves, as they cook up quickly, just like spinach. The stems are full of nutrition so chop them and sauté first with some onion and garlic for an amazing side dish [I’ve been known to add in some chickpeas for a plant-focused meal.]
Swapping arugula for romaine is a great way to spice up a salad (literally!). This leafy green has a peppery bite and delicate texture. It pairs perfectly with a light citrus vinaigrette and some shaved parmesan cheese (aka – the ultimate no hassle dinner side salad). Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable, like its cousins broccoli and cauliflower, and therefore has added disease-preventative effects.
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You might already be familiar with traditional “curly” kale that has become a grocery store staple in recent years. Lacinato or “dino” kale is the one that has a long flat leaves with a bumpy texture and newer to the scene. Add it to your favorite soup or stew near the end of cooking time for a pop of bright green color and an extra element of texture. Cooking kale mellows its bitter flavor, so a quick sauté in some olive oil with a bit of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar is a delicious way to enjoy this nutrient powerhouse.
Watercress is also cruciferous vegetable (see and you might have just thought cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts) with long stems and small, circular leaves. It makes a great sandwich topper in place of traditional leaf lettuce making for a fun presentation. The bright, peppery taste does well with just a bit of vinegar and olive oil. Keep the dressing light so it doesn’t weight it down. You can also drop into soups just before serving for a burst of flavor. One of our favorite salads includes watercress, cucumbers, and radishes – fresh and delicious!
Bok Choy is a type of Chinese cabbage with a bright white stem surrounded by dark green leaves. It’s most commonly used in Asian cuisines including stir-fries and soups like ramen, but feel free to add it to salads and slaws. I love this simple recipe for sheet pan bok choy – simply place quartered bok choy on parchment-lined sheet pan and toss with freshly grated ginger and sesame oil. Roast at 350° F until softened and serve with fresh lime wedges.
So there you go, 5 New Greens to try now next time it’s time to shop!