Superfood Spotlight: 5 Leafy Vegetables to Improve Your Diet

We all know the importance of eating your greens. Right?

Always make sure to get your greens on.

Especially, if you strive to look lean and healthy - you should eat what you want to look like.

Leafy greens are delicate, thin and they go with the flow. They're loaded in vital vitamins known as phytonutrients, acting as a double-edged sword in the arena of fitness.

So, what are the most common leafy greens with the highest nutritional attributes?

Top Five Leafy Vegetables

1. Spinach

One of the easiest to add to any dish because it requires little to no attention or preparation. In fact, the less you cook it the better it retains its qualities.

The centerpiece of an array of vegetarian dishes - spinach is a primary ingredient in western/Mediterranean cuisine.

It’s rich in vitamins K and C known as carotenoids. Also, it has plenty of B vitamins as well as E and A.

Spinach has iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and folate. The latter supports healthy red blood cells and aids in early stages of pregnancy.

2. Watercress

Watercress is one of the oldest leafy vegetables. It's 95% water and also floats on water in the wild. It's light, yet packed with all the same nutrients as spinach but with less sodium. It also contains isothiocyanate which supports brain health.

Watercress acts as a substitute for lettuce and as garnish to assorted entrees and even soups. It has a crunchy consistency like alfalfa sprouts.

3. Arugula

Arugula is one of the best base beds for a satisfying salad. Due to its piquant, more pungent taste as compared to its cruciferous cousins. Two whole cups of arugula is under 100 calories - ideal for dieting. 

Dark leafy greens, such as arugula, have more chlorophyll which is good for detoxing.  It aids in our bodies' natural cleansing processes and supports our immune system.

4. Kale

Kale has gained recognition over the past few years. The "K" in kale should stand for all the vitamin K it carries.  Unlike spinach and arugula, it requires curing. To enjoy kale one ought to season and sauté it.

It's considered a superfood because it has plenty of fiber and antioxidants. Kale also contains minerals, manganese and copper which helps with collagen production.  

5. Beet Leaves

Tasty as can be and distinguished by their signature red pigment, beet leaves are a fun side dish. Beet leaves are low in calories, fats, sugars and cholesterol and higher in iron than spinach. 

An overproduction of tyrosine in beets creates betalains that foster that red hue. Tyrosine helps calm the mind.

Nutritional Facts Of Edible Leaves 

Generally speaking most leafy greens contain the similar nutrients at varying macro-ratios. There are many more greens out there that aren’t featured on this list. There are limitless options and combinations to add leafy greens to your diet.

Cooking Leafy Greens Tips 

Leafy greens are usually served as a sautéed side dish. They're also pureed and thrown into a smoothie, made into a salad, or featured as part of a main dish.

The general rule of thumb is to avoid slow cooking or over cooking them as they lose their nutritional value.

The same is true for when you brew coffee too much - it diminishes its caffeine levels. Baristas say blonde coffee has more caffeine than dark roast as it is brewed for less amount of time. 

Elephant Smoothie

  • 1 half cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 half cup kale puree
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dates
  • 1 half teaspoon peanut butter

Island Detox Smoothie

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup kale puree
  • 1 tbsp. ginger root.
  • 0.75 banana. banana, medium
  • 1 mango. mango.
  • 2.93 oz pineapple

*Note: When incorporating fresh greens into your smoothie, first puree the greens with the milk. Then, add the rest of your ingredients and blend until smooth.

Spinach Pie

For the Filling:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 onions
  • 3 1/2 cups of spinach (about 2.2 lbs.)
  • 4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/3 bunch dill
  • lemon garnish from 1 lemon
  • 500 grams feta cheese
  • 200 grams cottage cheese
  • pepper, salt

For the Phyllo:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound phyllo pastry sheet

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Apply phyllo to the baking pan of your preference (typically, 8.9 inch x 13.2 inch).

3. Add butter in between sheets.

4. Pour filling mixture and top off with phyllo, then neatly seal edges.

5. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until golden brown. 

 

For more recipes and ingredient spotlights, check out our other blog entries.

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