What are the uses of Leaf Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables

More variety in the foliage

Rabbit food is what some people say disparagingly and defensively when it comes to green leafy vegetables. It is really not grass that laughs at us from the plate - on the contrary, it is the finest vegetables that contribute a great deal to a healthy and stimulating diet, especially in autumn and winter.
Claudia Rawer GN 9.14

What does leafy vegetables include?

The green leafy vegetables include salads such as head and oak leaf lettuce, pick lettuce, lamb's lettuce and rocket, all Asian salads and chicory (including the red varieties!), Cabbage, spinach and chard, purslane, the Asian pak choi and of course wild herbs like nettles and dandelions. We have known many of them for a long time, others have only been regularly on the markets for a few years. All types can be prepared in a very versatile way.

Green equals healthy

The whole parade - the darker green the better - is healthy for the cardiovascular system, has an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and improves blood flow. Some of the ingredients in the greens are likely to reduce the risk of multiple cancers. The leafy vegetables are also very important for the eyes: They have a particularly high lutein content (covered in color by green chlorophyll). Lutein can help maintain eyesight in old age and prevent or prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

So reasons enough to really enjoy the «rabbit food». We would like to introduce you to some of the green leafy vegetables from the families Cabbage and chicorywhich have a special feature: They all contain bitter substances. Bitter? Delicate and delightful! The "bitter" taste sensation is also a warning sign of possibly poisonous (example: bitter almonds contain hydrogen cyanide), and we have an innate aversion to it: infants spit out bitter and sour foods immediately. "Sweet" and "Umami", the "meat taste", on the other hand, indicate safe and substantial food.

But finely dosed by nature, bitter substances give foods from artichoke to lemon that certain something. Bitter food invigorates the tongue with contrasts: think of pasta with butter and sage, grapefruit with sweet strawberries, steak with dandelion salad, braised chicory with cheese - delicious, isn't it?

It makes sense that it is not only poisonous and difficult to digest that have bitter substances. Bitter things have a positive effect on our metabolic processes. Fruits and vegetables with subtle bitter notes contain substances that stimulate the liver, gall bladder and pancreas, stimulate the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, reduce flatulence and improve the absorption of vitamins A, B12, D, E and K as well as iron.

Bitter substances are also said to have a circulatory and vascular protective effect; in asthma and COPD, they can open the airways. Dare to be bitter Unfortunately, our desire for the bitter nuance has all too often been exhausted. Bitter components have been banned from the plates and kitchens by industry and growers. Almost everyone tastes sweet - and it has been proven that people eat more of sweet and mild, to the delight of the producers. Varieties that have been enjoyed and valued in Mediterranean countries for centuries often hardly had a chance north of the Alps. Once a vegetable or salad came into fashion that originally had a bitter note, it was successfully bred out.

So it happens, for example, that the tangy rocket, the "wild rocket", today tastes much milder as the "salad rocket" and hardly has the characteristic sharpness.

Green leafy vegetables are finely pureed and mixed with sweet fruit, especially popular as a "green smoothie". Homemade smoothies can be a nice thing, especially for children, when they eat more vegetables - they are not necessary for a healthy diet. In no case should it be used as the sole source for the recommended five servings of vegetables, but only as a supplement.

Some vitamins and fiber are lost during production. Although they can be as high in calories as a small meal, smoothies are also less filling than fruits and vegetables that we have to chew.

The inhabitants of the Mediterranean countries have been enjoying the green leafy vegetables with their bitter substances in their pure form for centuries. So it is better not to follow the instructions given in most recipes to put such vegetables in the water for a long time or to wash them with warm water "to remove the bitter substances"! Not only these little substances, which are indispensable for health, but also other valuable substances such as water-soluble vitamin C are flushed out.

It is better to train your palate to perceive the fine nuances of taste and the aromas that tickle the tongue (again). Our taste cells get used to bitter substances. Those who regularly incorporate bitter foods into their diet soon no longer find it unpleasant, on the contrary, they find it appealing and interesting.

Catalogna is a chicory by origin. Botanically it is referred to as a variety of "Cichorium intybus" (Cichorium intybus L. var. Foliosum Hegi) - which is nothing more than the beautiful chicory, which in summer also lets its blue flowers flash on all roadsides. By the way, chicory, capuchin beard (not to be confused with monk's beard), radicchio and sugar loaf also have the same variety names. Nevertheless, each of these varieties is an individualist with its very own character.

Roman delicacy

Catalogna is also known as leaf chicory or volcanic asparagus. Greengrocers also call them Italian, Turkish or giant dandelions because of their appearance, although they are not related to the local dandelion. And then there is the puntarelle: These are the delicate tips of the shoots on the inside, light green hollow bodies about the thickness of a thumb. They are considered a very special delicacy, especially in Rome and Lazio, and are enjoyed as a salad or vegetable: raw, in thin slices, with lemon, salt and a strong olive oil, or steamed with a little garlic and a spicy anchovy sauce.

Not every Catalogna species is suitable, however, for the «harvest» of the Puntarelle, which is there in Rome traditionally from November to March gives. In Italy, a number of varieties have developed through breeding and special preferences in the various regions.


Photo: Fotolia / O_Bellini


Fine in taste and rich in calcium

«Normal» Catalogna with its dandelion-like leaves, introduced by Italian guest workers in Germany and Switzerland, is not hardy here. In our latitudes you can find them either from June to September or - from imports - in the winter months when green vegetables are particularly rare. In Italy, catalogna leaves are mainly steamed and seasoned with a little olive oil and salt; in southern Italy, the combination with pasta and sausage is appreciated, which goes particularly well with the bitter notes of the vegetables.

Catalogna tastes good spicy and slightly tart - a real asset, especially in autumn and winter. Catalogna is of course also healthy: it contains them Bitter substances cichorin and lactucopicrin - good for the stomach, liver, gall bladder and kidneys - as well as other valuable secondary plant substances, a lot of vitamin A, some C and E, also potassium and a lot of calcium for a plant.

These winter vegetables are also known as meat cabbage, autumn chicory or autumn chicory; the name Sugar Loaf comes from its shape in the shape of a cone, but has nothing to do with its taste. On the contrary, the herb also contains that Bitter substance lactucopicrin and tastes bitter fresh and spicy. This chicory originally comes from Italy, southern France, Austria and Ticino. Today, Sugar Loaf is also known in Germany and all of Switzerland.


Photo: Fotolia_Picture-Partners

It is harvested until November, then it is available as a storage vegetable. Sugar loaf is often served as a salad, similar to endive, but the preparation as a vegetable is just as fine and much more varied. Steamed sugar loaf can, for example, be seasoned with balsamic vinegar, lime juice and chilli, baked with cheese or prepared as a casserole with potatoes and some ham. Just like its close relative radicchio / cicorino, it can be steamed, fried or used in lasagna and risotto.

Like the Catalogna, the stem cabbage (Brassica rapa var. Cymosa), now better known under the name Cima di Rapa, is a native of Italy. It is considered typical in Italy and Portugal Winter vegetables and belongs in the most famous pasta dish in Puglia, the “Orecchiette with Cima di Rapa”, and as a side dish to “Bollito misto”, the traditional meat pot in Northern Italy. It is often steamed, seasoned with olive oil, shallots, salt and pepper and served with toasted bread cubes and grated Parmesan, or gratinated.


Photo: Fotolia / G.Porzani

In Switzerland, Cima di Rapa is now quite well known and is also grown on a smaller scale. In Germany and Austria it is more likely to be found as a delicacy at weekly markets, or under the name "Rappa" at Turkish greengrocers. Cima di Rapa tastes good aromatic and very slightly bitter - the vegetable for everyone who finds broccoli a little boring! The delicate flower buds, the leaves and the stems are eaten. The leaves should be dark green, the buds closed and without a yellow base.

The bitter substances in Cima di Rapa come from polyphenols, which lower blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Stalk cabbage is also rich in minerals, carotene and vitamin C.

Career He's no stranger to us, of course, but kale or kale shouldn't go unmentioned when it comes to green leafy vegetables. In the meantime it has caused a sensation in the USA. The "New York Magazine" calls kale the superhero among vegetables, and the "New York Times" writes: "Forget about caviar - a modest kale salad is the hip food."

In fact, Americans like to eat the bitter cabbage raw, for example finely cut and dressed with lemon, chilli and mint. But the healthy green is also served imaginatively cooked: in bean soups, with pasta and sun-dried tomatoes, with chickpeas, in dumplings or freshly steamed with coconut milk, lime and ginger. That sounds like a wonderful change for our winter menu too.


Photo: Fotolia / GVictoria


Kale contains a lot of vitamin C, but also A and B vitamins, as well as a lot of folic acid and a very high calcium content for a vegetable. Researchers from Jena, Germany, have found that kale in particular is particularly good for maintaining eyesight: it contains a lot of lutein and zeaxanthin, substances that prevent macular degeneration and also slow down the progression of the disease.

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