The Hidden Magic of Leafy Green Vegetables

GRK Sprouted Peanut Lime Slaw with Red and Green Cabbage.

GRK Sprouted Peanut Lime Slaw with Red and Green Cabbage.

As we dream up dishes and think about the quality of food we want to serve here at Golden Roots Kitchen—we’re considering a variety of factors. And while taste may feel like the most important component of any dish, we like to think that we value it equally with a consideration of nutrient density and overall health impact.

Leafy green vegetables are a food that we can all benefit from adding to our plates—and at GRK you will be sure to find greens galore in many of our summer offerings. Leafy greens are a nutritional powerhouse—promoting healthy skin, normalizing blood pressure, supporting bone and muscle health, improving digestion and elimination, and so much more. On a micro level, these gems are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals that support many of our body’s systems. They’re also packed with insoluble fiber—feeding the friendly bacteria in the gut, and promoting a healthier digestive system.

Leafy greens are extremely versatile and can be used and consumed in a number of ways, making them an easy add-on to nearly any dish. We selected a few of our GRK favorites to highlight, to show the care we take in pairing and selecting ingredients. We can assure you that cabbage slaw is not just for looks or garnish!

GRK Tuna Salad on a bed of Butter Lettuce and shredded Little Gem.

GRK Tuna Salad on a bed of Butter Lettuce and shredded Little Gem.

Romaine lettuce is well known, as it is a staple ingredient in a traditional Caesar Salad. This lettuce is sure to add a variety of flavor and texture to any salad—with juicy, refreshing stems, and crisp leaves. In addition to being a GRK favorite, romaine packs a punch with an array of nutrients such as vitamins A and C (powerful antioxidants that protect the body against pollutants and free radicals), vitamin K (essential for bone health and blood clotting), and folate (essential for converting carbohydrates into energy, and red and white blood cell production).

The name Little Gem suits this delectable leafy green quite perfectly—a treasure in its nature. Don’t let these “little gems” fool you, because they offer quite a lot in terms of nutritional benefit! Little Gem lettuce is a cross between romaine and butter lettuce—creating a luscious, buttery, and crisp green. Like romaine, this green is packed with vitamins A, C, K, and folate, as well as minerals phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Arugula—universally known as rocket—is part of the brassicae family, and is well known for its delicate and peppery nature. In the kitchen we love using baby arugula—leaves harvested early for a more delicate and mild flavor. Eating bitter greens, such as arugula, kale, and dandelion, are a sure fire way to kickstart your digestive system. The peppery flavor of these greens activates the taste buds, while stimulating enzymes —promoting healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients. In addition to being a digestive wonder, arugula is similarly packed with vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate and calcium.

GRK Caesar Salad featuring Baby Kale.

GRK Caesar Salad featuring Baby Kale.

Kale is often considered a “superstar” in the world of leafy greens. As another member of the brassicae family, it shares many of the same nutritional properties as arugula. Kale is found in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors—from dinosaur, to curly, purple, baby, and many more. You’ll often find kale incorporated in many of our dishes here at GRK—from simple salads, to soups, and even in our frittatas.

And lastly, cabbage—another brassicae family member—is a favorite worldwide, as well as in the GRK kitchen. Cabbage is found in several varieties—red, green, savoy, napa, and bok choy to name a few—and can also be consumed in a myriad of ways. Think soups, stir fries, slaws, salads, sauerkraut, and more! Cabbage is extremely rich in vitamin C—a powerful antioxidant—which is necessary for a host of processes in the body: tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function, formation of collagen, and wound healing. Cabbage is also a good source of potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

As true lovers of leafy greens and the bevy of benefits they provide, we will continue to work on finding creative ways of incorporating these nutritional giants into our dishes. We also find that many of our GRK main dishes and sides work well supplemented by a simple bed of fresh or sautéed greens—like our Black Bean & Buckwheat Burgers, or any of our signature frittatas. We always recommend keeping the fridge stocked, for such an occasion! :)

Wishing you wellness, always,

Dena & Mary

Dena Zlotziver, M.Ed., is a teacher, writer, and member of the kitchen staff at Golden Roots Kitchen.

Mary Smith has her Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition and Food Science, and serves as GRK’s in-house nutrition expert.

Brittany Cole is a photographer based in Santa Cruz, CA; you can find her work here.

Melanie Geist