Do you know how to choose the healthiest fresh greens? Lettuce comes in all shapes, sizes, and textures, but it’s the nutritional value that is important to know. A salad is a smart way to go green. Just coming in at under 10 calories per cup, a bowl of lettuce leaves can be a major source of vitamins A, C, and K, among other essential nutrients. But not so fast – not all leafy greens are created equal! Below you can find a breakdown of Ideal Protein-friendly lettuce offering outstanding nutritional benefits.
Arugula is known as a ‘garden rocket’, this leafy cruciferous vegetable originates from the Mediterranean. It packs a healthy dose of nutrients and phytochemicals, which may inhibit the development of certain cancers. Arugula is light green leafy plant and has a distinctive peppery taste. In addition to the leaves, the flowers and seed pods of the plant are also edible. This is one of our favorite approved Ideal Protein vegetables!
Also known as Boston or Bibb lettuce, butterhead is a head lettuce with soft green leaves. As its name implies, the texture is smooth like butter, but its taste is mildly sweet. Like its other lettuce heads, it’s packed with essential nutrients and vitamins, particularly A, C, and K.
Sometimes called watercress, cress is from the mustard family and offers up a spicy option. With a fibrous stem and small green leaves, this tasty lettuce often grown in sandy ground. Loaded with iron, calcium, folic acid and vitamins A and C, the entire plant is edible. Typically, cress is used in small amounts as the peppery taste can be overwhelming to some.
With a unique oval shape and a soft satiny texture, endive is one of the most difficult vegetables in the world to grow. Requiring a two step growth process, the first step takes about 150 days. Endive is crisp with a sweet nutty flavor and just enough bitterness to bring the taste into balance. Endive is low in fat and sodium and it is naturally cholesterol-free and its loaded with vitamins B, C, and K, along with calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, folate and selenium. Its scoop-like shape makes it great for dipping too.
Also a member of the endive family, frisée has exotic curled leaves are tinged with yellow and green. Described as a bitter woodsy taste, frisée lettuce, became wildly popular thanks to U.S. chefs in the 1990’s. Because it is expensive to produce, it is generally mixed with other salad greens. Frisée is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C, with approximately one third of the daily recommendation in a single serving. When using frisée for cooking, tear rather than cut as the leaves are very tender.
Radicchio is a deep purple vegetable looking similar to red cabbage but much darker in color. Also referred to as Italian chicory, it is a leaf vegetable with a bitter spicy taste that will mellow if grilled or roasted. This leafy plant holds several unique compounds like lactucopicrin (an anti-malarial agent and analgesic), zea-xanthin (protects the eyes), vitamin K and a plethora of other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Italians almost never use radicchios in a mixed salad, but savor them alone with the simplest of olive-oil dressings.
Romaine is a popular large leafy lettuce with a thick center rib provides an appealing crunch factor. This lettuce leaf is stiffer than most making it ideal to use to layer or compliment dishes. With high levels of antioxidants and other crucial vitamins like folate and manganese, romaine is tasty , crunchy and healthy. Romaine lettuce has over 80 nutrients and is an excellent source of vitamin A (notable through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid beta-carotene), vitamin K, folate, and molybdenum. Romaine’s notoriety was derived from the Caesar salad which uses the crunchy leaves as its base.
Spinach is a dark leafy green and is high on the list of superfoods. Given a publicity boost by Popeye the Sailor Man, spinach has always been viewed as a powerful source of all things good. While kids wrinkle their noses at the thought of spinach, it’s become a favorite among dieters and health food advocates because of its long list of health benefits and for good reason. Spinach is high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber and vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and copper.
Are you ready to go green with these Ideal Protein vegetables? Oh, just one more thing, before you treat yourself to some tasty greens, don’t forget to wash that lettuce! Whether you purchase lettuce from your organic grocer or maybe you grow it yourself – WASH IT thoroughly! Simply run a stream of cool water over the lettuce and use your hands or a vegetable brush to work away any loose dirt, pesticides, or airborne matter. To dry your lettuce, gently shake excess water from each leaf then use a salad spinner or a clean dish towel to absorb any excess water. Now, your beautiful greens are ready for a tasty Ideal Protein Salad Dressing. For a complete list of Ideal Protein compliant salad dressings, visit Ideal Solution and be the solution to your relationship with food!