Bok choy (Brassica campestris L.) is known as a leafy Chinese cabbage and is one of the most popular crops grown in oriental regions such as China, the Philippines and Vietnam. This vegetable has gained tremendous popularity in America, where the sweet and nutritious stalks and mild leaves are being discovered.
Also known as pe-tsai, petsay, white-celery mustard, Chinese white cabbage and pak choi, bok choy is a member of the Brassica family, along with cabbages and mustards.
Very much resembling collards, bok choy is like cabbage that never forms a head. It is a small, upright plant that grows leaves like white romaine lettuce that fan out at the end. It can grow up to 18 inches at maturity.
So, perhaps you are eager to try this vegetable you may know very little about. For sure, bok choy is a great addition to any healthy diet and can be incorporated into your weekly menu with ease.
Although bok choy is very low in calories, it is loaded with phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is actually what is known as a zero-calorie food by some, because 100 grams only has 13 calories. Because eating bok choy helps the body burn calories, it is called a negative or zero-calorie food.
Loaded with six powerful antioxidants – thiocyantes, lutein, indole-3-carbinol, zea-xanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates – that protect the plant and provide innumerable health benefits for us, bok choy is also a great source of dietary fiber. The antioxidant protection reduces bad cholesterol and protects us from breast, prostate and colon cancers.
Bok choy is not short on vitamin C either, providing 75% of the required daily amount, in just 100 grams. Vitamin C is necessary for immune system function and the reduction of inflammation.
This tasty veggie has cabbage and cauliflower beat when it comes to vitamin A. With just a 100 gram serving you get 149% of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin A.
You name it, this mild, green, leafy veggie has it. In fact, it is rich in vitamin K, as well, which is necessary for bone metabolism and preventing osteoporosis. Vitamin K has also been researched for the role it may play in limiting neurological damage caused by Alzheimer’s.
Eating bok choy on a regular basis provides the body with vital B-complex vitamins including B6, B5, and B1. These vitamins are essential because the body itself cannot manufacture them; they must come from an outside source.
As if this were not enough, this green wonder also contains plenty of calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron and phosphorous.
Selection and Cooking
Bok choy is readily available at most grocery stores. Select organic varieties, if they are available. A healthy bunch is firm and has no brown spots. Keep what you don’t use in the crisper section of your fridge for a week. Be sure to wrap it in paper towel to preserve freshness.
Boiling, steaming and stir frying are excellent ways to cook this mild, highly nutritious leafy green. You can even cut it up and put it in your favorite smoothie.
Be sure to separate the leaves from the stalks before cooking. Although you can cook both parts, the stalks take longer to cook. It is also best to shred the leaves into smaller pieces and chop stalk diagonally before cooking.
For a simple stir fry, add 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth to one pound of bok choy leaves and cook until the leaves are slightly wilted. Keep an eye on this, it does not take long. Add in seasonings like onion and garlic and sea salt to please.
-The Alternative Daily