Inspiration from a Lifelong Vegetarian
– Writing and Photos

Leafy-Vegetables-1484459For over a year I have been hooked on green smoothies in the morning. I blend a handful of leafy green vegetables like kale or chard with almond or rice milk, or sometimes fruit juice, and add a banana, hemp seeds, coconut oil and various other nutritious items, depending on what’s on hand.  Since I have heard these leafy greens are good sources of calcium and have nutrients which prevent cancer, maybe others want to take on this habit too, whether in a smoothie or a stirfry. In that vein, I thought I’d share this great greens glossary by Nava Atlas, author of the very informative VegKitchen website.

Arugula: Considered a “gourmet” green, arugula makes an early spring appearance (though it also grows—and is sold—into late fall). Arugula’s flavor is bold but not bitter and the uncooked leaves add zest to mixed salads, bean salads, and cold pastas. Wilted down, it adds interest to warm pastas and grain dishes.

Bok Choy and other “Choys”: All are easy to use in stir-fries and soups; those with small, tender leaves can be used uncooked. Many of the varieties include the word “choy” in their name—such as choy sum (baby bok choy), dai gai choy (Chinese mustard cabbage) and tung choy (water spinach).

Dandelion: The leaves of this garden “weed” also come in a cultivated variety. Their flavor is akin to chicory or curly endive—slightly bitter or tart. Small young leaves have the best flavor and texture; combine them with other greens in salad.

Sorrel: This tart, lemony green can be used uncooked in small quantities in green salads, combined with milder greens, or more generously in soups. a traditional spring soup using sorrel is schav.

Spinach: A nearly all-weather green, available year round, spinach arrives early in the spring garden. Though it can be used uncooked in salads, it is most versatile lightly cooked. Spinach is welcome in pastas, soups, stews, curries, wraps, and savory pies.

Watercress: “Peppery” best describes this small, round-leafed green. Use uncooked in salads (best combined with milder lettuces), and in sandwiches in place of lettuce. Watercress is wonderful in soups and briefly wilted in stir-fries.

Mizuna: This cool weather green makes it a natural for early spring harvesting. Its mildly sweet and spicy leaves add flavor and crunch to mixed salads; it can also be briefly steamed or stir-fried, or used in soups.

Tatsoi: These small, dark, spoon-shaped leaves have a mild flavor that’s perfect for using raw in salads or quickly wilted down in stir-fries, where it somewhat resembles spinach.

What is your favorite way to eat leafy greens? Feel free to leave a comment below and share tips via Facebook, Twitter, etc. by using the buttons under the article.  – Paige