Today I picked several radishes out of my garden. As I was carrying them down to the house, I wondered if I could eat the radish leaves. I thought I remembered that my sister ate them in salads; but I was wondering if I could cook them. I put a little coconut oil in a frying pan and cut up the washed leaves and threw them in. After they wilted, I added some minced garlic, pepper and salt. I liked them better than kale made the same way. They weren’t as bitter. I made a meal of something that would usually be thrown away.
* Radish leaves may be added to soups, salads, smoothies or use in your pesto recipe.
Then I started to wonder what other vegetables had leaves that are edible that we would normally throw away. There are many vegetables that we eat the roots or other parts of; but are in the habit of throwing away the leaves. Green leafy vegetables are good for us; and as it turns out, many of the beautiful green leaves we throw away are not only edible; but loaded with vitamins and minerals.
I found this on the USDA site:
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
“Dark green leafy vegetables are great sources of nutrition. Salad greens, kale and spinach are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K, and broccoli, bok choy and mustard are also rich in many of the B-vitamins. These vegetables also contain an abundance of carotenoids-antioxidants that protect cells and play roles in blocking the early stages of cancer. They also contain high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Furthermore, greens have very little carbohydrates, sodium and cholesterol.
The dark greens supply a significant amount of folate, a B vitamin that promotes heart health and helps prevent certain birth defects. Folate is also necessary for DNA duplication and repair which protects against the development of cancer. Several large studies have shown that high intakes of folate may lower the risk of colon polyps by 30 to 40 percent compared to low intakes of this vitamin. Other research suggests that diets low in folate may increase the risk of cancers of the breast, cervix and lung.
The vitamin K contents of dark green leafy vegetables provide a number of health benefits including: protecting bones from osteoporosis and helping to prevent against inflammatory diseases.
Because of their high content of antioxidants, green leafy vegetables may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods. Studies have shown that eating 2 to 3 servings of green leafy vegetables per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast and skin cancer. These same antioxidants have also been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease.
Perhaps one of the most appealing benefits of dark green leafy vegetables is their low calorie and carbohydrate contents and their low glycemic index. These features make them an ideal food to facilitate achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. Adding more green vegetables to a balanced diet increases the intake of dietary fiber which, in turn, regulates the digestive system and aids in bowel health and weight management. These properties are particularly advantageous for those with type-2 diabetes.”
So why are we throwing out the free greens from our gardens that we could be eating for better health? Habit? Because our parents did?
They can be used raw in salads and smoothies.
They can be cooked with other vegetables or garlic and onion. They can be used in soups or as garnishes or made into pesto sauce. They can be added to omelettes or scrambled eggs and quiche. Some may be used as a wrap or stuffed like a cabbage leaf.
I don’t throw my celery leaves away; unless they yellow. I use them in salads and soups. Many people do just cut them off and throw them away; but they have the same taste as the celery, and they look pretty as a garnish too.
The tops on the onions from your garden have flavor like the onion. Cut them up to use on salads, soups and stir fries. They also make a great garnish.
There is a rumor going around that carrot leaves are poisonous because of the alkoloids they contain. Alkoloids are substances that plants contain which are believed to be for the purpose of keeping pests away. They are also contained in most of the healthy greens we regularly consume, in varying degrees. There is no proof that carrot leaves are poisonous; in fact there is evidence to the contrary. Many people eat these fringy green leaves and live to tell the story.
Carrot leaves can be used in salads and soups, or as garnishes. Or chop fine and combine with olive oil, garlic or garlic powder, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper for a carrot leaf pesto.
The other day I (absentmindedly) picked the bottom leaves off of what I thought was my swiss chard. When I really looked at them; I thought they didn’t look right. That was when I realized I had plucked the bottom leaves off of my broccoli plants. (you can laugh if you want; I did) They looked so green and leafy and healthy that I brought them down and washed them. I researched on the internet that broccoli leaves are edible. The bigger part of the stem should be removed because it may be woody. Cut up smaller parts and leaves to use in soups and stir fries. Use a whole leaves for stuffing and rolling like stuffed cabbage.
I don’t plant beets; but I was curious about eating the leaves. I found that they are good for eating; and good for you. They have more iron than spinach. They boost bone strength, strengthen your immune system and fight Alzheimer’s disease. They are tender and good for eating raw on salads or cooking with other vegetables, in any way you might use spinach or swiss chard.
Tomato leaves are thought to be poisonous because of belonging to the night shades family; but there is little proof of this. There is a natural substance that the leaves stems and unripe fruit make to ward off pests. They contain the alkaloids tomatine and solanine. The highest concentration is in the stems, then the leaves, then the unripe green fruit. We often eat green tomatoes with no ill effects, unless we are allergic to tomatoes themselves. Chefs have been known to make use of the leaves in their tomato sauces, too. While one might not want to consume large quantities, the leaves should be as edible as the green fried tomatoes we all love.
You can use tomato leaves as garnishes, in soups and tomato sauces. Or you can chop them fine, add garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and other spices, olive oil, red wine vinegar and a little lemon juice for a tomato leaf salsa.
Are there any dark leafy greens that you usually throw away that you could eat instead. The next time you see that green color on the leaves of one of your root vegetables; research to see if you can eat them. The old adage goes, Waste not; want not. Our pocketbooks and our bodies will benefit from expanding our knowledge of this subject.
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