If you swear by kale, you’re not alone. In 2014, the leafy, cruciferous vegetable overtook spinach as America's favorite cooked green.
That said, you shouldn’t limit yourself! If you already love the nutritious taste and crunchy composition of kale, there’s a good chance you’ll also enjoy many of the lesser known greens that you’re probably passing up at the farmer’s market each week.
Not only does diversifying your greens mean you won’t get bored of the same kale salad week after week (and divert to greasy takeout), but it will also expand the list of nutrients you’re putting into your body.
Ready to add some new veggies into your rotation? We asked 10 wellness experts to dish on their favorite greens––here’s what they said:
1. Carrot tops
Don’t throw them away!
Most stores sell the carrots already cut from their greens, making the carrot tops more of an afterthought. Fortunately, when spring comes around, it’s easy to find carrot greens at your local farmers’ market.
Carrot tops are a free bonus vegetable that are packed with nutrients. They contain six times the vitamin C as an actual carrot and are high in fiber, vitamin A, potassium, iron, and calcium.
Similarly to Swiss chard, carrot greens are bitter, but with a slightly more parsley-like taste. My favorite way to prepare these greens is in a breakfast omelet, as a pesto, or simply sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
Alex Davis, Co-creator of Ryan and Alex Duo Life
2. Green onions
Green onions have pungent properties that help to boost the immune system and fight inflammation. The warming and slightly bitter taste is indicative of the vegetable’s digestion-enhancing properties.
Green onions are very versatile and make excellent toppings to salads, veggie dishes, pastas, and casseroles. For added health benefit, green onions can be added to your restorative bone broth soups.
Pro-tip: the green parts are more onion-y tasting, while the white parts are more sweet, giving you a variety of options when cooking. Preparation is easy; just a little chopping is all you need!
Dr. Ellie Heintze, Naturopathic Doctor, Starting Point Acupuncture
Nori is a seaweed that is most commonly used to make sushi. It’s packed with iodine, which is a very important mineral for thyroid hormone production. As a busy mom, I rarely have time to spend hours in the kitchen rolling up sushi. Instead, I cut it into smaller squares, and the kids and I eat it straight from the packet like “chips.”
Clinical Nutritionist Filipa Bellette, PhD
4. Mustard greens
Mustard greens are rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber––all of which have been linked to decreased risk of chronic diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Mustard greens also contain vitamin K and vitamin C for added bone and immunity support.
Mustard greens are just as simple to prepare as they are nutritious. I like them sautéed in a little olive oil, fresh garlic, and salt and pepper for the perfect weeknight side dish.
Lacy Ngo, MS, RDN, Mindfulness in Faith and Food
Watercress is a hidden gem that people don't talk about as a daily green. It can be tough to find, but it’ll most likely show up in the produce aisle of your favorite health food market. This itty bitty vegetable looks a bit like a four-leaf clover, with round leaves and a peppery flavor that packs an impressive lineup of health benefits.
Watercress contains many antioxidants, which help lower your risk of diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. It’s nutrient-dense (especially with vitamin K), which helps to protect you against osteoporosis.
It is such a versatile vegetable that you can add it to anything, but I love adding it to my homemade pesto sauce with garlic, walnuts, parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise.
Jeanne Agius, Founder, Self-Care Journey Coaching
6. Dandelion greens
While most people think of dandelions as an ugly weed, they really are a delicious nutritious powerhouse. You can eat every part of them, from the flower, to the roots, and of course, the leaves.
The leaves from young dandelions, ones that have not yet flowered, are perfect to add to your salads and have a slightly bitter and peppery flavor. Older leaves, once the flower has come up, taste best chopped and added into soups or pasta. Dandelion greens pack an impressive nutritional punch and are an excellent source of vitamin A, E, and K. There is also high antioxidant activity in every part of the dandelion plant, making it the perfect green to add to your day.
The best part: if you have a garden, they’re totally free! Find a spot that hasn't been sprayed with pesticides, pick some fresh dandelion greens, and try them for yourself this spring.
Kelsey Lorencz, Registered Dietitian, Graciously Nourished
7. Swiss chard
Swiss chard contains a ton of magnesium, calcium, copper, zinc, and more, with very few calories. I usually add swiss chard to Asian-inspired stir fries, with things like sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, baby corn, soy sauce, and chicken.
Charles LaRosa, Researcher and Editor, Prepared Cooks
Tarragon is a culinary herb with a multitude of health benefits. As it’s part of the sunflower family, many people tolerate it well, and its slight licorice taste adds a subtle depth of flavor to many soups, stews, vegetable and protein dishes.
Tarragon is especially high in manganese, an essential mineral that aids in the formation of strong bones and helps reduce inflammation. I even like putting a tablespoon or two of fresh tarragon leaves into a smoothie post-workout!
Tarragon has also been found to be useful in supporting healthful blood sugar levels and the metabolization of glucose.
I love making easy chicken salads using a store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredding the meat, and adding toasted walnuts, diced red onion, celery, fresh tarragon leaves, and a handful of grapes together with a spoonful of either greek yogurt or a sunflower-oil mayonnaise, with salt and pepper to taste.
Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Lucia Hawley
Glucosinolates give arugula its slightly peppery taste, as well as protects against certain cancers.
Sean Barker, Author, The Easy Eating Diet
10. Bok choy
Similarly to kale, bok choy is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, containing sulfur compounds that have been shown to prevent certain types of cancer.
I love bok choy as a side or added to soups and stir-fries. I like to chop and sauté it with a bit of tamari, freshly sliced garlic and ginger, and a dash of sesame seed oil. Then I sprinkle some sesame seeds on top for an extra dose of calcium!
Nichole Dandrea-Russert, MS, RDN, author of The Fiber Effect
If you don’t have the time to chop, sautee, and season, you can always add more green to your diet with KOR’s Green Up. This little shot is filled to the brim with wheatgrass––a big antioxidant, rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, as well as vitamins A, C, E, K and B complex.
Sick of kale? No problem! We’re delivering green goodness in a bottle. Make essential nutrients and effortless part of your day, with KOR!