Eating a variety of foods is key to getting as many of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you need. Most of us have staple foods we buy every week that are base ingredients in our dishes. Busy lives call for simplicity and quick cooking. We’d like to help!
We want you to venture out and explore what else is available to make your dishes more flavorful and add variety to your diet. So, we plan to introduce a different food once a month that may not be part of your staple diet. For some, the food we introduce might be and we hope you share your great recipes with us. For others who have not cooked this food, we’ll give you the scoop on why it’s great and share some easy recipes to get you started.
Keep in mind that although the foods we introduce have wonderful health benefits, some individuals have sensitivities and allergies to certain foods. For example, despite the health benefits of garlic, Lia can’t have it because garlic causes gastrointestinal problems for her. Another example of foods that may cause issues is tomatoes. If you have problems with heartburn, the high level of acidity in tomatoes may exacerbate the problem for you.
So, when expanding your food fare watch out for any sensitivities these new foods may cause.
For those of you who like to cook Asian food, you probably have used bok choy in your dishes. Bok choy is from the cabbage family of leafy vegetables and is often used in soups and stir frys.
The most popular type found in North American grocery stores has dark green leaves with white stems. The leaves, shaped like soup spoons, are tightly held together by its stems attached to a bulbous head. To clean bok choy, separate each leaf from the head and rinse it thoroughly. If not using the whole bunch, you can store in the refrigerator the cleaned leaves wrapped in a kitchen or paper towels.
You can also buy baby bok choy, which is a less mature version and also known as pak choy. It has greener stems and leaves, smaller in size and is less sweet tasting than bok choy. Regardless of the type, bok choy is crunchy and flavorful.
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits
Wow! Bok choy has quite the nutritional profile. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, just one cup of raw bok choy (pak choi) has 9 calories, 1 g of protein, 1.5 grams of carbs, less than 1 gram of sugar (0.83) and is high in water content (67 grams).
The three key vitamins and minerals that lend bok choy its top grade in nutrition are Vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium. Bok choy contains about 63% (3128 IU) of the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin A, 31.5 mg of Vitamin C, 13 mg of Magnesium, and 176 mg of Potassium.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is important for hundreds of metabolic functions in the body. It may help fight against pollution, infections and cancer and it enhances the immune system. Because the body cannot make vitamin C, it must be obtained through the foods we eat.
Magnesium and Potassium are minerals that are important for many bodily functions. Magnesium in particular is important for improving the heart muscle, relaxing the blood vessels, detoxifying the body and aiding in the absorption of calcium. Potassium is critical for the nervous system, heart health, muscle strength, reducing stress and bone health.
Bok choy is so versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked. Some ideas for integrating more bok choy into your diet include:
- Chop up and add to your salads.
- Substitute bok choy for lettuce or tortillas in lettuce wraps or tacos.
- Use instead of rice as the bed for your stir-fry dishes.
- Swap bok choy for cabbage leaves for cabbage rolls.
Aside from our recipe of the week, we are featuring two great bok choy recipes that we have found for you to try:
From Eating Well, a chicken with bok choy dish.
“Velvet chicken is a classic Chinese cooking technique that keeps the meat juicy and succulent, and the chicken stays creamy-white rather than getting browned as in most stir-fries “
From Whole Foods Market, a curry soup with bok choy.
“Coconut and curry lend an exotic tropical flair to this quick and easy savory dish. Fresh green beans, bok choy and carrots add a tender-crisp bite to this Asian-inspired chicken soup. Serve with or over jasmine rice.”
Also from Whole Foods Market, bok choy with chili-garlic swordfish.
“Big flavor from just a few simple ingredients. Grilling brings out the sweetness of bok choy, making it a terrific match for meaty swordfish steaks.”
What is your favorite bok choy recipe? Please share it with us in the comments or email it to us so we can post it.