Did you ever hear someone tease your lettuce and call it empty calories? Did you come to believe that your iceberg lettuce has absolutely no health benefits? Ponder on this though; iceberg lettuce does come with several benefits including Vitamin K, A, and simply being a water dense food- granting satiety. As for romaine lettuce, it only gets better. Did you ever imagine romaine lettuce having 107% of vitamin K in a two cup serving? It comes along with Vitamin A, folate, fiber and manganese too. Romaine lettuce is known to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Next time someone teases your lettuce being benefit free, just smile and ignore. Of course, I must mention that there are leafy greens out there that are much more nutrient dense than lettuce. Not that you shouldn’t ever eat lettuce again, but that you should make more room on your plate for these greens.
Of the many greens out there, I highly recommend you try kale, mustard greens, and even some Swiss chard for a change. Yes, some of them have a very strong taste unlike lettuce. However, once your taste buds become immune to them, you’ll begin loving them. Chop them up into small pieces and mix them into your salad. If you can’t handle a salad made completely of kale, then do half chopped kale and half lettuce. Adding these leafy greens gives you a boost of nutrients and vitamins in the same bowl of salad you were going to eat anyway. So, I mentioned how romaine lettuce has approximate 107% of your daily value of Vitamin K. If you compare it to kale, with 1108% Vitamin K in just one cup, then you’ll most likely keep lettuce on the store shelf. That’s right, kale is a super food. Kale has over fifteen nutrients per serving. It’s very high in antioxidants and carries anti-inflammatory benefits as well. I highly advise you try adding kale into your diet in any way possible. You can chop it into your salad, sauté it with red onions, or making pilafs and tossing it in for a vitamin kick.
Aside salad, another way to eat kale is to make kale chips; a great replacement for deep fried, overly-salted, and full of genetically modified oil potato chips. Kale chips are very easy to make, and they are kids friendly too. Many of my clients complain that with a busy schedule at work all week, they have no time to eat healthy. Well, I’m here to tell you that if you’re the type of person to walk over to the vending machine at work and buy a bag of potato chips due to a tight schedule, then you ought to give kale chips a try! You simply wash your kale; chop it into large pieces, drizzle with organic virgin coconut oil, and some spices. You place it on a baking sheet and allow them to become nice and crispy for about fifteen minutes. Yes, that’s all! Once the kale chips cool down they will become crispy, and are a perfect snack when your cravings kick in. I don’t assume you’ll ever care for deep fried and processed chips again.
If you can’t handle eating raw kale, I suggest you try sneaking some into your smoothies instead. That’s right; many of my clients who don’t find time in the day to eat enough vegetables found this very beneficial. The secret is to blend your kale with your liquid first and pulse it. Once you have a green liquid, add your fruit like berries and bananas. Blend it once again until it’s smooth, and you have a delicious smoothie with hidden benefits too. If you have strong taste buds and can actually taste the kale beneath your banana, then try a green with a more subtle taste like spinach. I’ve tried this recipe while doing a presentation for children at their school. If kids can handle drinking smoothies with spinach, so can you.
So, next time you are at your nearby farmer’s market, or wherever you may buy your veggies from, try to explore other greens aside the same old lettuce.
Editor’s Note: Noor Salem is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and is CEO of her own wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition, LLC. Noor specialized in women’s health, weight loss, and food intolerance versus allergies. She offers individual and group health coaching programs, and is a speaker on the topic of holistic health at workshops and seminars. The views expressed here are her own.