In my own defence, let me begin by saying that I was not reared up eating bok choy. However, when I first tasted this powerhouse veggie at Shawn’s house a few weeks ago, I was delighted with its mild flavor and superb crispiness. I immediately added it to my list of what to buy for the vegan challenge. So off I go to Sobeys, feeling very vegan-esque as I loaded my cart with such green delights as kale, collard greens and of course bok choy. I was pleasantly surprised at its low price of just $2.49, as I greedily rummaged through the display for the largest bunch I could find. Then it was off to the check out for yet another surprise……. this one not so pleasant. Kale: $3.99; collard greens: $2.99; boy choy: $9.71. NINE DOLLARS AND SEVENTY ONE CENTS!
“There must be some mistake,” I said, “the sign says $2.49.” So off the cashier goes to check the price while the shoppers lined up behind me angrily tapped their debit cards on the check-out. About two hours later she returned….well it could have been five minutes but it felt like hours as the card tapping was reaching a lynch-mob like frenzy! “That’s $2.49 a POUND,” she said, waving the sign for the hostile shoppers to see. “Oh, that’s okay, I’ll still take it”, I replied, red-faced.
There is something about opening your fridge and seeing a rainbow of colorful veggies that can make you feel healthy just looking at it. For the first few days, that is. But eventually, if uneaten, these garden delights will wilt and decay, mocking you and your healthy eating plan every time you open the door of your fridge. As the veggies took on a more and more sinister look, my bok choy project started to feel more like the Blair Witch project!
But then I had a genius idea…….vegetable broth. I took all of my wilted and decaying produce, disposed of the bad parts and threw them in a big pot, with just enough water to cover them and added a dash of sea salt. VOILA, after 2 hours of simmering, I strained the mixture, leaving a nutritious and tasty veggie stock, which would save me a bundle when making my vegan soups and stews. No more boxes of Knorr for me (at $2.99 per box, I might add!).
I have completed the first third of my vegan challenge, and so far it has been a breeze. The food is great, I am never hungry, and I feel awesome! Before I venture into the land of bok choy again however, I must ask my vegan coach: What are the health benefits of eating bok choy and what is the best way to cook it?
Bok choy (don’t you love saying it?) is very similar to celery. In fact those who don’t like the taste of celery can sub bok choy into their favorite recipes. Like many of the greens, it’s just as tasty raw as it is cooked. You can throw bok choy into any stir fry or soup to give your meal a flavor that will have your guests or family saying “This is good…what is that flavor? I can’t quite put my finger on it.”
If kale is Mick Jagger, then bok choy is Bruce Springsteen. Both (singers and veggies) are superstars, it just depends on your taste. But of course they both (singers and veggies) kick ass and they both (veggies only) belong to the cruciferous family, which are the most powerful cancer fighting foods!
Bok choy, like most leafy greens, is packed with folate, which is good for brain, heart, blood and mood, and 1 cup contains 76% of your daily requirement for vitamin C and 3 grams of protein. We often think of orange veggies as being the only ones high in Vitamin A, but a 1-cup serving of bok choy has 7223 IU of Vitamin A! That’s 144% of your daily requirement! Vitamins A and C are anti-oxidants vitamins that help keep your body disease-free.
It’s also made up of mostly water and fiber, so it’s great to keep the poop train on track.
Not only that, but one serving of bok choy has 50% more calcium (158 mg) than a 1/2 cup serving of cottage cheese or 1/2 cup of milk. (Regardless of what the Dairy Council tells you, dairy is not necessary to get your calcium intake requirements.)
I’ve read that the cost of buying bok choy at Asian markets vs “big name” markets is a fraction of the price. Not sure if that’s true….anyone?
When buying bok choy, look for bright green leaves that are not browned or withered. Cut a thin slice off the bottom off so that the outer leaves fall off and discard them. The stalk and leaves cook at different rates, so if you want to use the leaves and the stalk, put the stalk in the stir-fry, or whatever you’re cooking, first, then the leaves. A head of bok choy will only last about 3 days In the fridge. It makes a great substitute for cabbage, as it’s not as bitter. There’s even baby bok choy (awwww!) which is a smaller version that’s a little more tender.
Speaking of cabbage, here’s a great recipe for bok choy slaw. It’s a quick and easy side dish that you can make in a few minutes and it’s loaded with all the nutrition you would expect from something so colorful and delicious!
- 6 cups of very thinly sliced washed bok choy (about a 1 pound head-trimmed)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar (red wine vinegar, although not as good, would work here)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons of sugar OR 1 tablespoon of agave OR 1 tablespoon of honey (Honey is not really “vegan” because it technically comes from an animal source, but this is one “non-vegan” food I sometimes eat. The call is yours.)
- 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 medium carrots shredded
- 2 scallions thinly sliced (greens)
- 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds (optional but I really like the way this looks and adds more nutrition and flavor)
Toast your almonds in a 300-degree oven for 10-15 minutes on an oven safe plate if not already toasted.
Whisk vinegar, oil, your choice of sugar, mustard and salt in a large bowl until all combined well and sugar dissolves. Add bok choy carrots, scallions and almonds. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. This is best when eaten the day it’s made but if you must, store in a tightly sealed container in fridge.
Makes six 1-cup servings. Each serving contains: Calories 110, protein 6 grams, 72% RDA Vitamin C, 225% RDA Vitamin A, 23% RDA calcium, 15% RDA iron, 22% RDA potassium, 3.6 grams of fiber
RDA= Recommended Daily Allowance
Enjoy your bok choy!