As a vegetarian, greens (and salads) have become an integral part of our diet.  It’s important to inject our green meals with variety–not only to ensure we get all the nutrients we need,  but also to spice up our menus with some variety! Sometimes, though, romaine, iceberg lettuce or spinach just isn’t enough!  There are so many other leafy greens out there that are great alternatives –  all with  their respective benefits – here are a few of our favorites:

Collard Greens

English: A bundle of collard greens, from an o...

English: A bundle of collard greens, from an organic food co-op. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closely related to kale and cabbage, collard greens are rich in a variety of nutrients, including cancer-fighting phyto-nutrients di-indoyl-methane and sulforaphane. With high amounts of vitamin K and calcium, they also promote strong, healthy bones. Adding in the powerful antioxidants provided by vitamins A and C, and you’ve got quite a package of health benefits in this leafy green.

Though they are traditionally fried with salt pork, we know that won’t really work for vegetarians. If you’d like to try a healthy alternative, check out this Okra and Greens recipe instead!

Purslane

A Purslane cultivar grown as a vegetable

A Purslane cultivar grown as a vegetable (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soft, succulent, and packed full of more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy green, adding purslane to your diet may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, and help prevent developmental disorders such as autism. In addition to a plethora of vitamins and minerals, purslane has quite a few antioxidants, including two types of betalain alkaloid pigments that have been found to have anti-mutagenic properties.

Want to check out a new recipe? Whip up some Purslane Potato Salad in the kitchen today!

Turnip Greens

20070112 turnip greens

20070112 turnip greens (Photo credit: jspatchwork)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generally available year-round, turnips are a great bargain—you get two vegetables for the price of one! The greens are packed with antioxidants and B-vitamins such as folates—which have been shown to reduce depression. Pack some into your next salad!

Endive

English: Endive at the Jardin botanique de Mon...

English: Endive at the Jardin botanique de Montréal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also known as escarole, this slightly bitter, leafy green is filled with many essential B-vitamins—folic acid, thiamin, and niacin, to name a few. Your body uses these in order to metabolize fat, protein and carbohydrates, and since it cannot produce them on its own, it’s very important for you to eat foods high in them. Endive is also high in antioxidants, especially Vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy skin, good eyesight, and beats back lung and oral cavity cancers.

Leeks

Leeks (Allium porrum)

Leeks (Allium porrum) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This leafy stalk contains a variety of antioxidants which, in combination, produce the compound allicin—the component that makes garlic such an awesome weapon in your illness fighting arsenal. As such, leeks are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal—and best of all, they don’t leave you with bad breath! By the way, allicin is also great for lowering your blood pressure, as it decreases blood vessel stiffness and blocks platelet clots from forming. Translation= you’re much less likely to have a heart attack if you chow down on this leafy green.

Basella

Basella alba

Basella alba (Photo credit: dinesh_valke)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also known as vine spinach, you’ll most commonly find basella as a potted plant in home gardens. Its thick, fleshy leaves are a great source of mucilage, which helps in digestion, reduces your cholesterol absorption, and prevents bowel movement problems. Say goodbye, Pepto Bismol! Basella is also rich in a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals—notably potassium, manganese, calcium, magnesium, copper, vitamins A & C, and beta carotene.

Want to substitute your salad? Try this Indonesian-Style Malabar Spinach recipe!

Bok choy

Bok Choy

Bok Choy (Photo credit: NatalieMaynor)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also known as leafy chinese cabbage, bok choy is a popular vegetable crop in many oriental countries, such as China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It contains a variety of anti-oxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin, and thiocynates, which help to protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers as well as reduce bad cholesterol. It also has a variety of minerals, B-vitamins, and is particularly high in vitamins A, C, and K.

Thinking about pulling out the grill? Check out this Grilled Bok Choy recipe!

As you can tell, all of these leafy greens are high in anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals, and have fantastic health benefits. Try them out, and let me know which is your favorite!

*Nutritional information source: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/

Which leafy greens do you like to eat? Tell us in the comments below!

 

 

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