Leafy greens are extremely high in nutrients like vitamin B, and also help your body fight against diabetes, weight gain and aging. While they are not a cure for any type of disease, eating a diet rich in these greens can help you feel good, and may even prevent illnesses in the future. Of course not all greens are healthy for all people, just like anything else in life. Gone are the day when iceberg lettuce was the only option for sandwiches and salads, although it still has its place in the world.
Choosing which leafy greens to eat when doesn't have to be hard. The hardest part is differentiating all of your options. Some can look so similar, culinary schools have entire classes devoted to being able to identify which ones are which. The good thing is, most of them will be sold in containers and clearly labeled so that you know what you're getting. It really does take the guess work out of it. This quiz will not be so easy! When looking at leafy greens, there are very distinct characteristics that can help tell the difference, but only if you really pay attention. So do you think you can identify all these leafy greens based solely on a description? Find out!
Kale contains way more than the Daily Value for vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C, and is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. Eating it raw is the best way to get all the nutrients, since heat gets rid of many, but there are plenty to go around, so even cooked kale is healthy.
Microgreens, in their heyday, were used as garnishes for fancy meals, but nowadays they are used in salads, on sandwiches and side dishes all on their own. These micro versions carry up to 40 percent more nutrients than their full grown counterparts.
Collard greens are a staple in southern cooking, and cooking them is the only way they are palatable. The low and slow cooking process cooks out the bitterness and makes the greens tender enough to eat on their own.
If you're looking to feed a crowd, you will need massive amounts of spinach. It contains a decent amount of water, so as it cooks, it cooks down to almost nothing. It is high in vitamin K, vitamin A and manganese.
Cabbage is a lot more versatile than people think. It can be braised, boiled, roasted or even eaten raw. It can also be fermented and turned into sauerkraut or kimchi. In animals, these foods were shown to have cancer-protective properties.
People often don't realize that beet greens are edible. Not only are they edible, they are rich in beta-carotene, lutein and many other nutrients. They can be used in salads, soups, sautéed or eaten on their own as a side dish.
Watercress is a spicy lettuce that is an aquatic plant from the same family as arugula and mustard greens. There are no studies to confirm, but watercress has been used in herbal remedies for centuries to heal various ailments.
Romaine lettuce is a good source of vitamins A and K and is a staple is salad mixes. Studies in rats have shown that romaine lettuce improved levels of blood lipids, but more studies need to be done to determine its benefits for people.
Swiss chard is often used is Mediterranean cooking and comes from the same family as beets and spinach. It is chock full of potassium. manganese and vitamins A, C and K. It can also be beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels
Just like other leafy greens, arugula is packed with nutrients like B9 and K. It can be used in salads, as a garnish, and has even been used cosmetically and medicinally. It also has natural occurring nitrate, which may help widen your blood vessels.
Endive is a popular vessel for things like chilled seafood salads, but they are also good in salads or cooked. It has a nutty and mildly bitter flavor, but not too bitter to be unable to be eaten raw.
Bok choy is a Chinese cabbage that has a baby version and more full-grown version. Both are great for braising, roasting or sauteing and have a very clean flavor. It contains selenium, which aids in cognitive health.
Turnip greens contain more nutrients than the turnip itself. They have a strong and spicy flavor, so they are better enjoy cooked versus raw. In most recipes, turnip greens can actually be used to replace kale or spinach.
Radicchio is also known as Italian chicory, as it is used in a lot of Italian dishes. It has a spicy and bitter taste, but that mellows out when it's been grilled or cooked in some other way. However, people do also eat it raw.
Taro is a tropical plant grown in many locations, and is mostly grown for its corms. However, the leaves are also eaten. The leaves have to be cooked, twice in fact, because the plant is toxic when raw.
Catsear goes by many names including false dandelion and flatweed. It is an edible herb, but in some places is a noxious, invasive weed. The leaves and roots are the most commonly harvested, and while bland in flavor, the leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
Mustard greens can be eaten raw as they are less bitter and more peppery than other dark greens such as Swiss chard. Put them in salads, or cook them in oil on the stove until the leaves are wilted.
Butter lettuce has soft, buttery leaves that are amazing in salads, used as wraps, or on your favorite sandwich. They shouldn't be cooked, as it is way too delicate a leaf. A cup of this lettuce has less than 10 calories.
While iceberg lettuce has nearly no nutritional value since it's mostly water, it does serve a purpose. Its crunch can bring good value to foods like sandwiches, tacos and salad when mixed with other greens.
Escarole is in the same family as frisee and endive. It is less bitter than the other members of its family, so it's a great salad green or green to be eaten raw in some way. Escarole is high in many vitamins and low in calories.
Chaya, also known as tree spinach, is toxic when raw so they should be cooked. The cooking process also cooks out the stinging hairs on some varieties that have them.
Celtuce seems like the word lettuce jumbled together for some kind of word game, but it's a name given to lettuce that's grown for its thick stem. Celery is a stem that derives from celtuce and is especially popular in China.
Sorrel leafy green herb that grows perennially, and serves the same purposes as any salad green with the addition of being an herb. It has a sharp taste that adds a bold flavor to soups and sauces, as well.
A version of bok choy, tatsoi is grown specifically for its greens. It's grown throughout the world and its leaves have a creamy texture and subtle, distinct flavor. This green can be eaten cooked either by braising or sautéing.
Broccoli rabe is seen a lot in Italian cooking as a side dish or a topping on a sandwich. It is very fibrous and a bit bitter, so cooking it is the best way to handle this leafy green.
Common chickweed is a cool weather plant native to Europe. It's considered an early spring plant, but dies off when it gets too hot. Chickweed is great raw in salads or on sandwiches, but it also hold up to being cooked.
Most people know plantains as the starchy vegetable that looks like a banana. But broadleaf plantain is a nutrient dense leaf vegetable that is very high in calcium and other vitamins. It is majorly used medicinally, but the young leaves are edible as a salad green.
Widely grown as a crop to fertilize other plants, the flowers and leaves of this plant are edible. They can be used as a garnish, but you can also use them in salads just like you would any herbaceous green.
Thai basil can be eaten raw or cooked and is widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine, including Thai and Vietnamese. It is used a lot in curries and noodles in broth. Thai basil, when mixed with other flavorings, is also used a condiment in Vietnamese cooking.
Parsley is widely used in Italian cooking but it has made its way to many other dishes as well. It is great as a garnish, mixed into salads, smoothies, soups, sauces and marinades. It really is a versatile herb.
Water lettuce is not edible, but rather is used mostly in aquariums to provide cover and shelter or the fish. It also serves as a form of algae control. If the water in which it grows is contaminated, the plant will take on an invasive weed quality.
Palmgrass, native to Asia, is typically cultivated as an ornamental crop, but in Papua New Guinea it is grown as a vegetable, and its grain can be eaten as a rice substitute.
Chervil is a mild flavored herb that is used mostly in French cooking to season poultry, seafood and young spring vegetables. It is one of the four traditional "fines herbes" along with tarragon, chives and parsley.
Oregano is part of the spice blend, Italian Spices, and is much more flavorful when dried. Oregano is also used in essential oils that are used medicinally and have been since ancient times.
Sage is a leafy herb with many uses. It is used in cooking, essential oils, and when its dried and burned it is said to rid spaces of negative energy. When eaten, it has savory, slightly peppery flavor.
Savory is an herb that is used a lot in Armenian Bulgarian and Italian cuisine. It is especially used in the spice mix, Herbs de Provence, and is the main ingredient. The Acadian stew, fricot, heavily features savory.
Thyme is a perennial and is quite sturdy as a plant. It can handle drought, deep freezes, and bright, hot, sunny weather. It is used in spice blends, in savory dishes, and also in sweet treats like apple pies. It can also infuse simple syrup for fun cocktails.
Tarragon is delicious when used to season chicken, fish and eggs, though its uses vary depending on location. In some places it is used as a flavoring for soda, in others it's used to make vinegars, and even sweet cake.
Lamb's lettuce is best from May to November and can be eaten raw or cooked. Make sure to thoroughly wash it first, as it tends to be gritty if not. It has a tangy flavor and gets its name because the leaves look like lamb tongues.
Mizuna has a sharp, peppery flavor much like mustard, hence the nickname. It is great to add to salads, and while not often found on its own, it is usually part of specialty salad mixes.