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Thursday, May 31, 2012

NOT ALL LEAFIES CREATED EQUAL-IE


People often make the mistake of lumping leafy greens into the same category. While it's true that these maximally nutritious vegetables should be eaten every day without fail, there are some differences in the nutritional profiles of, for example, spinach and Swiss chard on the one hand, and cruciferous veggies such as collards, kale, and broccoli on the other, and these differences are worthy of note.

Crucifers
Cruciferous vegetables include kale, cabbage, collard greens, bok choy, broccoli, and cauliflower. While known for their anticancer properties, these delicious vegetables are also high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber and omega 3 fatty acids.

Chenopods
Chenopods include spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens. Unlike the crucifers, which are with few exceptions best prepared steamed, the chenopods lend themselves to quick boiling of up to 3 minutes in the case of chard, or 1 minute for spinach.

The chenopods tend to be higher in iron, calcium, folate, and perhaps most importantly, vitamin E, than the crucifers. As vitamin E is not widely available in foods, make an effort to include either chard or spinach in your diet daily. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that also helps promote healthy, wrinkle-free skin.

How to go about it
Of the greens, kale and baby spinach can be served either raw or cooked. Try mixing a head of kale (finely chopped) plus 4 cups of  baby spinach with avocado, lemon and salt for a nutritious and delicious salad, as pictured above.

For dinner, 2 cups of boiled Swiss chard serves as a delicious base to your favorite main course. In fact, it is so delicious, you may wish to double the serving, add tomatoes and a cup of chickpeas, and make it your main course. Add some nutritional yeast and Greek olives for a savory flavor. Another option is to combine broccoli and kale and steam for 5 minutes. Let greens form the base of at least one meal per day, preferably two.

Whatever you do, aim to include both chenopods and crucifers in your daily dietary intake. These foods are the most important dietary health investment that you can make. Enjoy!