Leafy greens should be an important part of our everyday diet and life style. Leafy greens are a rich source of enzymes, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are important in maintaining the acid / alkaline balance of our body. The truth is that many Americans do not even eat salads or leafy greens even once a week. The closest they come is adding Iceberg lettuce to a baloney sandwich or eating a fast food hamburger.
It is important that the greens you buy are of high quality no matter where you buy them. If you want to ensure quality and freshness, grow your own salad greens with sunlight and a few feet of patio space.Growing your own greens gives you fresh, organic, convenient greens right at your back door which can be picked as needed saving time and money. There are also many varieties of Patio tomato plants and cucumbers that can be grown in small containers as well. If you have children, let them help you pick the salad greens and make the salad as well. They will eat the salad with more enthusiasm if they picked the salad greens and helped in the preparation of the dish. If they learn as children to eat salads, they will more likely adopt eating salads into their adult life style.
You need to know which leafy greens give the highest nutritional value and it is not Iceberg lettuce. Of the common lettuce varieties, Romaine is the most nutritious. Some of these leafy green varieties described below may be new to you. You many have to grow them yourself or buy them at an Asian market.
I have fallen in love with Moringa leaves,(Malunggay in Asian markets, ma-rum in Thai) which come from the Moringa tree Natively grown in the Philippines and Thailand. In those countries the leaves, flowers, and pods are eaten on a daily basis. Moringa is now being grown right here in the US in areas such as Southern California and Arizona. It grows a meter a year so you will have a year round, never ending supply of fresh salad greens within several months. It can even be grown inside the house with sufficient sunlight. If you don’t have room to grow your own Moringa tree, you can buy Moringa (Malunggay) leaves in Asian markets.
Moringa leaves contain 18 of the 20 amino acids required by the human body including all eight of the essential amino acids usually only contained in meat products. Fresh Moringa leaves, gram for gram, contain 4 times the Vitamin A of carrots, 4 times the calcium of milk, 3 times the potassium of bananas, 7 times the Vitamin C of oranges, and protein nearly equal to eggs. The leaves are tasty, tangy and a great addition alone or combined with other salad greens.
Moringa leaves when dried become even more super charged with nutrition; 17 times the calcium of milk, 15 times the potassium of bananas, 9 times the protein in yogurt, and 25 times the Vitamin A of carrots.
New Zealand Lettuce is a special spinach variety and is high in Vitamin C and minerals, great fresh or steamed and is never bitter. It can even be grown at home in the winter in some areas. It is cold hardy.
Revolution Spinach may be a new variety to your salad knowledge and is native to SW Asia. This spinach is exceptionally rich in Vitamin C, A, E, B6, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Folate, Magnesium, and Potassium.
Arugula (Rocket or Roquette) originally came from the Mediterranean. It has a strong, rich, peppery taste and is rich in Vitamin C and potassium. It is eaten fresh, cooked as a vegetable with pasta sauces, meats and Fava beans. It is also used as a topping on pizza added after the Pizza is finished cooking.
Dandelion leaves and flowers are a great addition to your diet either steamed or sauteed. Dandelion leaves contain more beta-carotene than carrots; more iron and calcium than spinach; vitamins and minerals including B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. They are available in supermarkets so you know they are safe from home pesticide contamination.
If you are tired of salads then use leafy greens as an addition to main food dishes you already prepare.
Make a super powered green drink by putting spinach, Spirulina, fresh or powdered Moringa leaves or sprouted greens into a juicer then combining them with cranberry or other juices in the blender.
Liquefy your greens in a juicer first, then blend with yogurt and fruit for a nutrition packed smoothie.
Steam not boil leafy greens as an addition to a main meal. Add spices and herbs such as garlic to give it zing!
Add spinach or Moringa leaves to quiche, omelets, scrambled eggs, tuna casserole, salmon casserole, chicken or vegetable soups, pasta dishes or part of a veggie pizza. Make fresh or powdered Moringa leaves into a delicious, nutritional packed hot tea.
Try leafy greens in new ways as suggested above and raise the nutrition bar in your family. Let me know if these ideas were a hit