Towards the end of Summer and in the fresh start of Fall, I relish the rich greens we get in the CSA box. You can always make a salad or chop them up for a soup, an omelette, or to wilt in a melt or in some ground beef, but I took some time to look at the nutritional aspect of these great greens so I could maximize my family's gains. I learned a lot!
Cabbage and lettuce are certainly common—what restaurant doesn't have a house salad!—but especially in the world's largest countries like China, India, and Russia. While generally considered "empty" they extract a huge list of nutrients that you need only small amounts of, like choline. It is theorized by some that their "emptiness" helps our bodies to purge toxins and heal inflammation and other ills, so its observed uses for weight loss and brain health and fighting acne may well be related to a deeper level of cleansing.
While we're talking about lettuce, I should mention raddichio. It has a few weird aspects: It is actually an anti-malarial, and can suppress hunger as well as being a mild anesthetic. It has some unexpectedly strong ties to the region around Venice too, though I'm not sure why—tell me if you know!
Arugula and kale are similar, but while they are both nutritious and high-calorie plants mature arugula has a spicy kick much like mustard greens. That's what makes many traditional Italian dishes taste, well, Italian! The zesty leaf is often at the heart of European Mediterranean cuisine, lurking as an unrecognized linchpin of the team. These plants are high in protein too, for you vegetarians out there who might be struggling to get enough.
Chard and rainbow chard are known in the sporting world for being incredibly beneficial for stamina during aerobic exercises and provides tons of vitamin K for strong bones, rich and active blood, and general heart health. I've been enjoying it mainly mixed with beef in a skillet though because I'm not much of an athlete these days!
And these are just a few of the options! Greens are a historic staple for people everywhere and unlike meat, which can vary greatly from one culture to the next in habit of consumption, everyone's genes were built on greens.
What is your favorite leafy green?
Share how you prepare your greens in a comment below!