Oh no! Not another recipe with spinach or kale!
Tired of the same old greens? Branch outside of your comfort zone and reap the benefits provided by other leafy superstars.
Most of the recipes posted on our facebook page or here on NutriLiving use only spinach or kale OR have no green hue whatsoever – while these two leafy greens have been mainstream in supermarkets and with health foodies alike, it’s time to let some others shine. So, which should you choose? Use your taste palate to find your next leafy green NutriBlast base!
Starting with the least bitter:
Lettuces (Romaine, red leaf, green leaf, butter)
I’m not talking about the iceburg lettuce we all grew up eating, thinking we were doing ourselves a favor. Go darker - the darker the lettuce leaf, the more nutrients it holds. These varieties are a bit softer in texture, mild in flavor and are often easier on the digestive system. They are a great choice for introductory greens for children – and, yes, even some adults! You’ll be getting a healthy dose of vitamin A, folate, and vitamin C.
Popeye’s favorite food is often a staple in most NutriBlasters’ refrigerators. While the iron found in spinach needs some help for optimal absorption (adding in some vitamin C enhances iron uptake), the magnesium, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin A are just a few benefits of this particular green. As far as flavor, spinach is a step up in the bitterness department with a hint of a “mineral” taste. However, for those who have been eating veggies and greens or those veteran NutriBlasters, it is pretty much undetectable. A recent study in the British Medical Journal found that the magnesium in leafy greens may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. While spinach is a rich source of magnesium, so is our next supergreen, Swiss chard!
Talk about beautiful greens! Swiss chard also comes in a variety of colors (known as rainbow chard). Chard is slightly chewier than lettuce or spinach and provides a salty undertone to a NutriBlast (want more saltiness? – add in some celery, pickle juice, or a seaweed powder). Swiss chard provides anti-inflammatory benefits due to its abundant antioxidants and phytonutrients – vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Two vegetables in one! The greens attached to the top of your raw beetroots can be used just like spinach or Swiss chard. They’re a level higher on the bitterness scale, but the flavor can be tamed when cooked. Just like all other greens, these are rich in nutrients, including carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Beet greens are among the small number of foods containing naturally occurring oxalates, which may pose a problem for those who are prone to kidney stones or have a kidney or gallbladder condition. For those without this concern, beet greens can be a great addition to your NutriBlast!
Every time I wear my “Eat More Kale” shirt, I get a slew of people wanting to sport one, too! Kale is becoming widely accepted as a dietary staple. Studies show that this powerful leafy green contains cancer-preventative properties for at least five different types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate). Kale also contains more absorbable calcium than a glass of milk! Aside from helping build strong bones, this leafy green has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. There are several different types of kale, but three varieties are more widely available at the supermarket – lacinato (dinosaur) kale is my favorite in both taste and texture; curly green kale is more common and tends to be the most mild; while purple kale provides a slightly floral hint.
When I hear the word collards I think of a southern style dish that includes ham, bacon, butter, and/or cream. No longer! NutriBullet has found a healthy, easy way to include this cancer-fighting leafy green into your diet. While research specifically targeted to collard greens is limited, the few studies that are available and the wide array of cruciferous vegetable studies all point to cancer prevention as the number one health benefit of collards. In addition, these greens house sulfur-containing nutrients and detoxification enzymes to support the body’s natural cleansing processes. With over five grams of fiber per cup, this cruciferous veggie is an excellent choice for digestive health. Many use large collard green leaves as a low-carb tortilla replacement when making a wrap. However, you may want to note that the smaller size leaves are more tender and have a milder flavor.
Mustard greens, Arugula, and Dandelion greens
Looking to spice things up a bit? A hint of pepper might tinge your pallet when you include one of these three in your NutriBlast. This group is definitely for the more adventurous or veteran Blasters. However, give ‘em a try. You’ve seen arugula grace a fancy salad at a fine dining restaurant, but this green – also known as “rocket,” holds some promise as a natural healing food for relief of gastric ulcers. Mustard greens hold a variety of vitamins and minerals and also help reduce inflammation and cholesterol levels.
Fresh herbs: Parsley, Basil, Cilantro
We often forget about these tiny guys who sit so pretty on top of our main dish. It’s about time they get some recognition! They may be tiny, but fresh herbs such as parsley and cilantro have been shown in recent research to help bind heavy metals such as lead and mercury to help remove them from both contaminated water and your body. Continuous buildup of toxins could potentially lead to chronic fatigue, joint pain and mood disorders. Parsley also acts as a natural diuretic, helping reduce water retention and bloating. Basil provides a nice aromatic boost to your Blast and your mood by increasing the production of dopamine and serotonin. Basil tastes delicious with berries and melon!
Selection, Storage, and Preparation
Look for leafy greens and herbs that are firm with no sign of wilted leaves, yellowing or browning. Choose organic to ensure quality without any pesticides. Once home, store leafy greens in a plastic bag and place in the fridge for three to five days. Keep them separate from fruits, especially bananas and apples, as these emit ethylene gas that will make your greens perish faster.
When ready to use, be sure to rinse them under cold running water or submerged in a bowl of water. For non-organic produce, be sure to clean well with some of these methods. For organic produce, make sure that any remaining soil, debris, or little buggies are not left behind. It’s best to wash just prior to using; however, if you want to do some prep to save time later, just be sure that your washed greens are as dry as possible and wrapped in a clean paper or tea towel in a bag before refrigerating. Alternatively, there are some produce bags available on the market that can extend the life of your greens/produce.
If you’ve bought in bulk and can’t finish your greens before they go bad, prep them for the freezer. Simply remove leaves from the stems (if applicable: think sturdy greens like kale and collards), tear into pieces and store in a freezer safe container or ziplock baggie. Try to use them up within a month.
Now, with all that being said, if you cannot find an alternative to spinach and kale in your local grocery store, go for what you can get – the same old go-to greens are much better than nothing at all! Just remember to rotate your greens as often as possible!