Updated: Apr 4
Upgrade your greens to add excitement to salad creation.
When it comes to leafy greens, most of us rely on the basics like romaine, iceberg, and spinach week after week, boring! Mixing up your greens creates interest and excitement, taking your salad from basic to BAM while adding nutrient diversity to your diet. Leafy green vegetables are a total nutrition powerhouse providing plant-based calcium, iron, and magnesium, plus vitamins A, C, and K, not to mention containing little to no carbs!
Julia Child said, "The more you know, the more you can create. There's no end to imagination in the kitchen." So, let your creativity take hold and add some variety to your salads by upgrading your greens.
Swapping arugula for romaine is a great way to spice up a salad (literally!) This leafy green has a peppery bite and delicate texture. Try it with a light citrus vinaigrette and shaved parmesan for a delicious side salad with dinner. Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli and cauliflower, which means it has disease-preventative effects.
Lacinato "Dino" Kale
In recent years, "curly" kale has become a grocery store staple, but you may have also noticed its family member Lacinato, often referred to as "Dino" kale. This variety has long, flat leaves with a bumpy texture and is equally delicious and nutritious. Try it in your favorite soup or stew near the end of cooking time for a pop of bright green color and an extra element of texture. The bitter flavor of kale mellows when cooked, so a quick sauté in some olive oil with lemon juice is a delicious way to enjoy this gorgeous green.
This leafy green is easy to identify as it usually has a bright pink or yellow stem. Due to the large leaves, Chard makes an excellent swap for tortillas (a great low-carbohydrate option!🥬). Use the leaves to wrap hummus and vegetables or sauté them with garlic and oil as a quick side. Don't throw out the stems because they are full of nutrients too. For a fantastic side dish, chop them up and sauté with onion and garlic or make it a main by adding in leftover rotisserie chicken.
Watercress has a bright, peppery taste that pairs well with a touch of vinegar and olive oil. The cruciferous vegetable has long stems and small circular leaves making it an excellent sandwich topper for a spicy bite, or drop it into soups just before serving for a sparkle of green with a burst of unexpected flavor. One of my favorite salads includes fresh and delicious watercress, cucumbers, and radishes!
You may have had bok choy at your local Asian restaurant as a side, in stir-fries or soups like ramen. It is in the cabbage family, with leaves of green with a bright white bulb stem. Bok choy is excellent in salads and slaw. A quick and easy way to prepare it is by quartering the heads on a parchment-lined sheet pan and tossing them with freshly grated ginger and sesame oil. Roast at 350° F until softened and serve with fresh lime wedges. This side pairs well with this simple Pecan Crusted Salmon or this delicious Lemon Garlic Cod.
The Bottom Line
Basic greens are okay, but restaurant-worthy salads you can create at home; now that's exciting! From peppery arugula to nutrient-packed bok choy, a world of greens is out there waiting to be discovered. Not only will trying new varieties add excitement to your meals, but it will also help diversify your nutrient intake and support overall health. So next time you're at the grocery store, pick up a bunch of Swiss chard or watercress and give it a try. Your taste buds (and body) will thank you!
As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I specialize in using a nutrient-dense approach tailored to your needs. I encourage you to schedule a free consultation to see how a results roadmap would work for you. If we both agree that my coaching would be beneficial for you, I'll gladly serve up all the yummy details.