When we think of leafy greens, some common varieties come to mind: kale, romaine, butter lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula, bok choy – the list goes on. But it may come as a surprise that there are approximately 1,000 species of plants with edible leaves. Sure, these aren’t varieties that are typically available at your local grocer, but it signals the great diversity of leafy greens and the wide gamut of varieties that come from regions and climates around the world.
Leafy greens are well known for their nutritional value and are typically low in calories, high in dietary fiber and contain a number of vitamins and nutrients. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 9% of adults eat the recommended amount of vegetables – that’s one out of every ten adults in the United States. What this means for diets and nutrition is bleak.
Hurdles that can often occur for people who want to eat more vegetables come down to a few variables that can include access to fresh, quality produce, finding produce that they enjoy the flavor of, knowing what to do with the produce when they bring it home, and finding recipes that are simple, enjoyable and delicious.
Luckily, Willo Farm has a leafy green that is a notorious crowd pleaser and highly versatile – our beautiful Savanna Brassica! A naturally occurring hybrid between spinach and mustard, the leaves are round and smooth (similar in shape but slightly lighter in color to spinach) with a taste that is crisp, bright and peppery, but not overwhelming, making it the perfect offspring of its popular parents. And, like its parents, it is rich in potassium, folate and vitamin E. Why is this important? Each nutrient has unique and important benefits to the human body. Here are some highlights:
- Helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals
- Supports healthy blood pressure and water retention
- May protect against stroke and prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones
- Is an essential B vitamin necessary for producing red and white blood cells in bone marrow
- Helps basic cell functions in the body and produces DNA and RNA
- Transforms carbohydrates into energy
- Helps during periods of rapid growth, such as pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence
- May reduce stress and improve antioxidant defenses
- Is important to vision, reproduction, and the health of blood, brain and skin
- May reduce heart disease risk factors
Its diversity, health benefits – and, of course, taste – make it a great addition to any leafy green rotation. Not to mention, it is excellent in salads, cooked in your favorite stir-fry or added to a smoothie. Need inspiration? Here are two of our favorite recipes:
Savanna Spinach Pistachio Avocado Salad
A bountiful, delicious recipe to change up your salad game, our brightly colored salad is filled with richness, sweetness and a hint of saltiness to satisfy all your cravings. With 14 simple ingredients and 10 minutes, you can make this member favorite in a jiffy!
Full recipe here.
Savanna Brassica Citrus Salad
A playful take on colors and textures, this dish is for those who eat with their eyes first as it is as beautiful as it is delicious. With amazing colors and shapes, this salad preserves the integrity and fresh flavor of some of our favorite seasonal varieties.
Full recipe here.