Known by many names, bok choy, has long been used in Asian cuisine, and has been adopted in the western culture because of its wonderful nutritional value. Dating back to the Ming Dynasty, bok choy has long been studied for is medicinal qualities. It is a food dense with vitamins and minerals and is very low in calories. Bok choy is a member of the cabbage family. It has tender thick green leaves with thick edible stems.
There are three main types of bok choy: One type has a white stem and is about 12 inches in length; the second type presents with a light green stem about 6 inches in length; and the third is baby bok choy which reaches a length of only about 2 to 3 inches. The basic nutritional values for bok choy are typically based on one cup or 70 grams of raw bok choy. This serving size is a surprising 9 calories, has no fat, and 1 percent of recommended daily allowance for carbohydrates. Now that is some guilt-free eating!
The taste is a spicy bitter, and it gets that from sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. These compounds are some of the aspects being studied in bok choy. They appear to have some ability to aid in the prevention of some cancers. Research from the Linus Pauling Institute have shown that glucosinolates may inhibit colorectal, breast, prostate and lung cancers. Bok choy also contains the antioxidants thicyanates, indole-3-carbonic, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. These antioxidants are also believed to be protective against cancers as well as lowering the bad LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.
Fresh bok choy, as sold in Fairway’s produce department, is an excellent source of the water-soluble antioxidant vitamin C — close to 75 percent of the recommended daily amount. Helping the body resist infections and free radical damage (free radicals are the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism), it also contains good sources of vitamin A, vitamin K, B-complex vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, iron, magnesium, and calcium. In fact, bok choy is uniquely beneficial for its calcium availability, because it is a low-oxalate food. This means it allows greater than 50 percent of the calcium in bok choy to be absorbed by the body. Not impressed, well compare that to spinach — only 5 percent of its calcium can be absorbed by the body. Even when you consider whole milk, only 32 percent of its calcium can be absorbed, too. Shocking!
Bok choy is great eaten raw in salads, in smoothies, vegetable juices, or used in stir-fry, soups or other dishes. There are many recipes for bok choy and you will find that it is extremely adaptable, boiling, steaming, stir-frying, and even deep frying are all possible.
Here’s a quick recipe for bok choy:
With full-size bok choy, separate the leaves from the stalks since the thick stalks have longer cooking times. Rinse well and drain, then cross-shred the leaves and cut the stalks into small slices diagonally or as your recipe calls for. Stir-fry for one minute, sprinkling with some sea salt, then add some chicken broth (around 3 tablespoons per pound of bok choy), cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Then add whatever seasoning and/or protein you like. The bok choy will be ready when the leaves are slightly wilted and the stalks are soft and tender. Enjoy!
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