Throughout our Healthy Ingredient Spotlight series, we’ve discussed a variety of fruits, vegetables and spices that provide specific health benefits. Some, like watermelon and avocado, are well known and loved, while others, like tart cherries, turmeric and watercress, are less familiar. We work to keep a balance between “a bit weird” and “a bit well known” and today we’re taking a turn toward the uncommon and discussing a cruciferous vegetable called bok choy.
Ahoy for Bok Choy
With an unfamiliar name and a somewhat awkward shape, bok choy is also known as leafy Chinese cabbage. It looks like a cross between napa cabbage and spinach, with a white, succulent base, soft green leaves and firm stalks. It has a very mild flavor and is delicious steamed, sautéed, stir fried or boiled – basically any way you can think to cook it! Plus, its delicate, “I’m a dark leafy green but I don’t taste like it” flavor makes it suitable for children and almost indistinguishable in a smoothie (try adding it in place of spinach in this kefir smoothie). It’s a painless and delicious way to get your children to eat their greens.
Aside from being tasty, it’s also super low in calories and comprised of mostly water. One cup of bok choy will only set you back about 11 calories while supplying you with high volumes of vitamins K, A and C. In fact, one cup of steamed bok choy provides over 100 percent of your daily vitamin A needs and roughly two thirds of your vitamin C needs! It’s also extremely high in potassium and contains some fiber to boot.
Other Health Benefits
Like most fruits and vegetables, bok choy contains anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown in medical studies to fight inflammation. Bok choy also contains omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha- linolenic acid, which is used to help prevent and treat diseases of the heart and cardiovascular system. Finally, as a member of the cruciferous family (along with cabbage, broccoli and asparagus), there are properties of bok choy that are shown to help decrease the risk of certain types of cancer.
Other nutrients and minerals of note in bok choy include:
Fun fact: Chinese cabbage (again, the family of which bok choy is a member) was ranked second in a list of Top Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables by the Centers for Disease Control! If that’s not enough of an endorsement to have you heading to the grocery store, we don’t know what is!
Bok Choy and Kefir
So bok choy and kefir – how do they work together? As we mentioned, bok choy is an excellent addition to a smoothie or smoothie bowl if you’re looking to increase your veggie intake. Its also a great substitute for spinach or other dark leafy greens and complements our Probiotic Summer Vegetable Bake well. Saute it in olive oil to top this hearty pasta dish, or chop it up in a salad with a tangy kefir dressing for a healthy, easy week-night meal. In short, there’s not much you can’t do with it and we’re looking forward to seeing what you decide to try! Let us know by visiting us on Twitter or Facebook, and be sure to tag us on Instagram with #MadeWithLifeway
For more of our delicious recipes and tips for cooking with kefir, head to our recipe library now!