Love Your Leaves! Lettuce
Lettuce is the classic salad ingredient and it’s a brilliant and varied food. Firstly it’s fantastic for weight loss as it’s very low in calories but high in fibre – only around 10 calories per cup. This means you can eat a large amount and feel full without taking in very many calories. Also because it has very few calories it has an average glycemic index of just 15 and can help regulate blood sugars. Secondly, all lettuce leaves are a fantastic source of Vitamin A, C and K as well as containing plenty of anti-oxidants. There are lots of types of lettuce to choose from which is also good as you can keep your salads varied and interesting as well as finding a few favourites. Generally the dark or more vibrant the vegetable the greater the nutritional benefit, and this applies to salad leaves. Therefore the darker or more colourful lettuces such as Romaine or Green Leaf are better for us. Romaine lettuce is one of the most nutrient rich of the lettuce family giving us the greatest amount of Vitamin A in a 100-gram serving, (almost 300 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A!), 5% of our daily fibre and a gram of iron. Another darker lettuce, Green Leaf, is the best source of vitamin K. The lighter Iceberg isn’t as good but still contains 17% of your daily vitamin K and A.
As well as colour, apparently the age of a lettuce also impacts it nutritional value. It’s the sun on the leaves which make them rich in vitamins and minerals, so those that are still young and relatively open, get more sun than those that are closed up, with inner leaves being compacted together. So choosing baby leaf lettuces can also be a great option.
So what can you do with all those lovely lettuce leaves? Why not try some of these fabulous, tasty recipes from around the web:
- A Japanese inspired salad with baby gem lettuce - http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1511722/japanese-salad-with-ginger-soy-dressing
- A Chinese chicken salad which combines Romaine leaves with red cabbage for a nutritional double-whammy - http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Chinese-Chicken-Salad-973296?columns=4&position=45%2F70
- If you are a fan of the classic Caesar salad, why not try Jamie Oliver’s low fat option - http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/caesar-on-the-light-side
- How about a Greek salad to remind us of our Mediterranean holidays? http://www.prevention.com/food/cook/20-low-calorie-salads-wont-leave-you-hungry/fresh-lemon-greek-salad
To make lettuce more fun to eat, why not use lettuce as a wrap? Here are some top recipes to try
- Chicken lettuce wrap – http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/healthy-and-easy-chicken-lettuce-wraps/
- A delicious, Asian inspired beef wrap - http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/ginger-beef-lettuce-wraps
- A tasty vegetarian option with tofu and cashew nuts - http://www.acouplecooks.com/2013/03/spicy-cashewlettuce-wraps/
- A turkey and cucumber wrap, great for lunch boxes - http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/main-course/turkey/healthy-turkey-cucumber-lettuce-wrap.html
- A Thai inspired crunchy wrap packed with flavour - http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/6593/spicy-mince-and-lettuce-cups
Let me know on my facebook page if you try any of these recipes this week and how you found them. And come back next week when we take a look at Rocket.