Kohlrabi leaves burst with nutrition. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Leaves of cruciferous veggies unsung nutritional heroes

One cup of broccoli leaves contain 100 per cent of the RDA of vitamin C

By Mary Lowther

Beet and turnip greens don’t need to go to waste as we harvest the roots. We can toss them into salads or steam them. But what about the leaves of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi? Why not incorporate them into our diet? After all, we’ve spent so much effort making excellent soil that it seems a shame to just compost all those leaves. Besides, experts tell us we should eat more greens.

Indeed, these leaves are edible. Because they arise from the same type of plant, they can all be eaten. Cruciferous plants grown on fully mineralized soil contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals, sometimes more than the part usually eaten.

For example, one cup of broccoli leaves contain 100 per cent of the RDA (recommended daily amount) of vitamin C and also provide fibre, calcium, iron, carotene and more.

These leaves boost the immune system, help the body detox and prevent diseases like cancer, heart ailments and inflammation. They also help improve skin and eye health. In fact, broccoli leaves are more nutritious than the florets, containing higher levels of beta carotene, vitamin A and phytonutrients.

Kohlrabi leaves have twice as much vitamin C as the bulb and significantly more magnesium; cauliflower leaves are a good source of fibre, vitamin A, folate, calcium, potassium and selenium, all of which boost the immune systems. And we all know about kale.

Broccoli leaves are best harvested before the florets begin to unfurl, but don’t remove more than one third of broccoli leaves at a time if you want to keep harvesting the florets. Picking the leaves encourages new growth and continued harvests. Kohlrabi leaves should be removed when the bulb is harvested so they don’t suck more nutrients from the tuber: chop the small leaves up for salads and use the larger ones for steaming, stir fries, soups and stews.

Try brushing leaves of cruciferous plants with oil and roast for a side dish, or substitute them for cabbage, collards and kale in recipes.

When harvesting any of these leaves, if you can’t use them right away they can be stored in the fridge in a bag lined with wet cloths, for up to three days. Given how much more nutritious these leaves are than the parts we normally eat, we would be foolish to overlook these rarely used dynamos of the plant world.

I’m going to dry out any decent leaves that I don’t cook up and grind them into flakes to add to soups in the winter.

Here’s a nice recipe for a green smoothie that can incorporate cruciferous leaves:

½ ripe avocado

½ frozen banana

1 cup nut milk or water

½ cup frozen or fresh berries

2 cups chopped greens

Optional: 1 or two pitted Medjool dates.

Scoop out the avocado flesh, discarding the pit and add it to the blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend till smooth. You might need a spoon to eat this, or add more nut milk or water to make a drink.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Columngardening

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists should expect periodic delays and detours on Chemainus and River Roads

Work on corridor upgrade project to intensify in the weeks ahead

Prescribed burn for the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

Between Sept. 27 and Oct. 9, if and when site and weather conditions become favourable.

Business notes: Cowichan Valley Wine Festival deemed a success this year

Here are some of the notable things happening in Cowichan’s business community

Cowichan Valley residents can help mark World Alzheimer’s Month

Two-part online discussion series called “Demystifying advocacy” on Sept. 28 and 29

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Most Read