Kale came up this morning at breakfast, as kale often does. Kale, in fact, seems to come up all the time, at almost every meal. Kale salads for lunch, a side of kale for dinner, would you like some kale in your smoothie?! (Said in a panicky Kramer voice.)
I get it. Kale is nutritious. It’s incredibly hearty. It offers a ton of fiber. Maybe too much fiber sometimes? Kale won’t go bad in your fridge for a long, long time. All of these are great reasons for the preponderance of kale on menus and in fridges and on grocery store shelves.
But aren’t you tired of it? Don’t you want another taste, another “trendy” green? May I humbly suggest one that I see less of on a day-to-day basis but have been enjoying plenty of at home? Mustard greens.
Mustard greens are, like kale, of the brassica family. They are hearty, but not as hearty as kale. They’ll wilt quicker in your skillet, that’s for sure. Mustard greens are also lighter in color than kale, and have a delicious, peppery flavor.
A caveat: Obviously I didn’t “discover” mustard greens. They’re very commonly eaten in plenty of cultures — not just the leaves, but also the seeds. Wikipedia, the lazy researcher’s friend, explains that, “The plant appears in some form in African, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and African-American (soul food) cuisine.” I’m simply suggesting that all of the purportedly healthful places out there extend their menus a little, dip into some other plants every once and a while. Enough with the chia pudding and kale salads and quinoa bowls and almond-milk lattes. Can we get some hemp milk up in here?
As The World’s Healthiest Foods (great website name) details, mustard greens are second only to collards and kale in their ability to lower cholesterol levels and “bind bile acids” in your digestive system. “When bile acid binding takes place, it is easier for the bile acids to be excreted from the body.” I have been feeling less bile-heavy, I guess. They go on to explain that, “Since bile acids are made from cholesterol, the net impact of this bile acid binding is a lowering of the body’s cholesterol level.” Mustard greens, along with all cruciferous veggies, also possess cancer-fighting compounds and a ton of vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting and bone health for ladies.
According to this site, mustard greens are not quite as “cold hardy” as their cousins, kale and collard greens (kale can survive through snow!), but they do “tolerate a light frost,” so dig in now before winter really hits. They’re commonly used as a cover crop, and can pull heavy metals like lead out of soil (a process called phytoremediation), which is cool. They can be eaten raw, steamed, or sautéed.
(This is an advertisement as paid for by the Mustard Greens Lobby of America. JK.)
Collage by Emily Zirimis.