When it comes to leafy greens, most of us rely on the basics like romaine, leaf lettuce, and spinach week after week – and while these are all healthy choices, there is a huge selection of leafy greens in the produce aisle that you could potentially be missing! Try shaking things up! This can help keep things fun and interesting in the kitchen while also expanding 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 still holds true! Leafy green vegetables are a total nutrition powerhouse providing plant-based calcium, iron, and magnesium, plus vitamins A, C, and K (side note: 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 one that you like. It might also be a matter of preparation method, so don’t hesitate to do some experimenting. Here are some of our favorites along with simple ways you can try including them into your regular meal rotation:
Swapping arugula for romaine is a great way to spice up a salad (literally!). This leafy green has a peppery bite and a delicate texture. Add a light citrus vinaigrette and some shaved parmesan cheese for an ultimate no-hassle dinner side salad. Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable, like its cousins broccoli and cauliflower, and therefore has lots of disease-preventative effects.
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 long flat leaves with a bumpy texture and is newer to the scene. You can 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 little bit of lemon juice is a delicious way to enjoy this nutrient powerhouse.
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. This makes for a great low-carbohydrate option! You can even use the leaves to wrap hummus and vegetables. You can sauté the delicate leaves, as they cook up quickly. The stems are full of nutrition so chop them and sauté first with some onion and garlic for an amazing side dish!
Watercress is a cruciferous vegetable with long stems and small, circular leaves. It makes a great sandwich topper in place of traditional leaf lettuce for a fun presentation. Just add a little bit of vinegar and olive oil to this bright, peppery veggie! You can also drop it into soups just before serving for an explosion 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. We love this simple recipe for sheet pan bok choy – simply place quartered bok choy on a 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. Yum!
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