“Follow me, please.” The server at Ruby’s café led Annie and LJ through the restaurant and into the garden. It was a new area for the cafe’s customers. The tables were interspersed between rows of produce that were used in many of the restaurant’s most famous dishes. Cleverly, by showing how much and where her food was grown, Ruby created even more demand. The waiting list to get in was now up to a month.

The path to their table was lined with various green leafy veggies, colorful herbs, and flowers. As they settled down, LJ helped Annie with her chair and sat across from her. Looking at the server, he said, “We’ll take two waters and two strawberry lemonades to start. Thank you”

Annie looked around the garden. “LJ, when was the last time we had bitter greens? I’ve been reading about their important health benefits, and I see Ruby has planted several. I’m definitely ordering a salad.”

LJ followed her gaze, noting the garden’s variety. “The name doesn’t make me want to eat any, so maybe you can enlighten me?”

Annie leaned forward, smiling. “Bitter greens are a family of leafy vegetables that bring a deep flavor to dishes despite their slightly bitter taste. Six top contenders also pack a nutritional punch: arugula, dandelion greens, kale, collard greens, endive, and Swiss chard.”

LJ raised an eyebrow. “Nutritional punch and deep flavor? I’m all ears and taste buds.”

Pointing at a plant with bright green leaves shaped like a rocket, Annie replied, “That is Arugula. It has a nutty, peppery taste. When eaten raw, it has a crunchy mouthfeel with a hint of bitterness. When cooked, it has a more mellow, earthy flavor. Arugula is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K. It contains calcium, potassium, and iron minerals. Not to mention, it’s known for its aphrodisiac properties.

“Did you say aphrodisiac? Well, you definitely have my attention with that one. What about dandelion greens?

“Behind you are dandelion greens,” said Annie, pointing. They are the unsung hero of the bitter greens family. They truly deserve more appreciation. Like arugula, they’re rich in vitamins A, C, and K. But what sets them apart is their high iron and detoxifying properties. Plus, they’re a great liver booster.

LJ slowly nodded. “That’s fascinating. Is kale a bitter green? It’s been all the rage lately.”

“Yes. Kale is like the superhero of bitter greens. Packed with vitamins A, C, and K, it’s also a reliable source of fiber and antioxidants. It truly earns its superfood status, boosting our immune system and promoting healthy digestion.

“Impressive. What’s next on the bitter greens hit list?

“As you know, I am a big fan of collard greens,” said Annie. “They’re a fantastic source of vitamins A, K, and C, as well as folate and calcium. Adding these to your diet can promote healthy bone growth, support brain health, and reduce inflammation.

LJ adjusted his sunglasses. “These benefits are making my taste buds rethink their aversion to bitterness. What about endive?”

Endive, sweetheart, is a crisp and delightful green that’s rich in vitamins A, K, and folate. It’s also low in calories and high in fiber, making it an excellent choice for weight management and digestive health.

“Good to know. Now that’s what I call a double win. What about Swiss chard?”

“See that plant with the big dark green crinkly leaves on a long stalk? That’s Swiss chard. Its stem is also edible. That one is red, but it can be white or yellow. I love Swiss chard. It has a bitter, slightly salty, earthy flavor. Swiss chard is low in calories and loaded with vitamins A, C, K and antioxidants.

LJ looked around the garden.  “Who would have thought these humble greens could pack such a nutritional punch? I could become a bitter greens enthusiast after all.”

“I’m happy to hear that. Just imagine all the delectable and nourishing dishes we can make with these greens. Bitterness, it seems, is truly a hidden gem in the world of flavor and wellness.”

Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.


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