“A cup of cooked turnip greens contains nearly 200 milligrams of calcium, and rivals the 276 milligrams you would find in a cup of whole milk,” says Boone. A source of vitamins A, C, E, B6 and folic acid, their slightly bitter leaves are smaller and more tender than their cousin, collards. Boone likes to prepare turnip, beet, and other greens by wilting them. “Simply saute the greens for a few minutes with olive oil and crushed garlic, then enjoy them alone or topped with beans,” she suggests. They also make a great addition to pastas and soups.
Chard belongs to the same family as beets and has a similarly sweet vegetal flavor and loads of health benefits. “It contains a wide array of phytonutrients, shown to provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, says holistic nutrition coach Jill Grunewald of Healthful Elements. “Chard is also an excellent source of iron, potassium, magnesium, antioxidant vitamin A, free radical-fighting vitamin C, bone-building vitamin K, and skin-enhancing vitamin E.” Her “all-time favorite way” to serve chard is to saute it in olive oil and garlic until bright green, and serve it as a stand-alone side dish or alongside mashed potatoes and salmon.
The humble member of the cruciferous family should not be overlooked—it’s packed with vitamin K and vitamin C. “For even more nutrition power, use red cabbage,” suggests Sharon Palmer. “It owes its red color to anthocyanins, the same compounds that give berries their purple hue and are linked to lower risk of disease.” Sliced cabbage is a traditional base for a hearty winter soup, and Palmer adds carrots, potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips, and even some lentils to make it more of a one-dish meal.
Broccoli’s leafier and more bitter cousin is sometimes labeled rapini and is often incorporated into Italian dishes. “This immune-boosting vegetable has a high amount of potassium, vitamins K and A, and it contains flavonoid which helps protect against cancer,” says nutrition and wellness expert Mitzi Dulan, author of The Pinterest Diet: How to Pin Your Way Thin. Blanch the leaves and shoots prior to cooking, suggests Dulan—that will take the edge off the bitterness. Then create a simple side with garlic or pine nuts, or toss it into your pasta.