Lettuce: Love it or Leave it ,This Hardy Vegetable Is Packed with Nutrients

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lettuce


Lettuce is an integral part of most salads. It’s also an easy way to consume a few servings of vegetables each day. It’s easily cultivated indoors or out, and comes in a number of tasty and colorful varieties.

What is it?

Lettuce is an annual or biannual plant. It’s a member of the aster or sunflower family and is a generally hearty plant that grows well in a variety of soils and temperatures.

The lettuce that we eat today began more than 4,000 years ago as a weed in the Mediterranean. Today there are hundreds of varieties of lettuce. While there are a large number of varieties there are four main types of lettuce. They include butterhead, crisphead, loose, and romaine. Arugula, endive, mache and radicchio are other popular varieties.

Health Benefits

The darker the lettuce leaf, the more nutrient rich the lettuce is. It’s an important part of a healthy diet and many doctors and nutrition experts recommend at least one serving of dark leafy greens each day. With so many varieties of lettuce it’s easy to do. And lettuce is low in calories too. One cup of lettuce contains about ten calories. And because it is packed with fiber, it really fills you up. Lettuce is also extremely high in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and folate.

Fun Fact

On average, each American eats about 30 pounds of lettuce annually. It’s the second most popular vegetable in the U.S. and California is the state that cultivates the most lettuce nationwide. And according to Dole almost all lettuce is packaged right in the field. They pick it and pack it immediately.

How to Eat

Lettuce is most often eaten as part of a salad. However, there are many more ways to enjoy lettuce. Dark leafy greens like arugula, for example, are a tasty addition to breakfast. Fried eggs atop a bed of greens add spice and nutrition to the first meal of the day. Instead of bread, you can also use loose lettuce leaves or butterhead varieties as wraps.

It’s important with any lettuce to make sure it is washed properly. There have been a number of widespread illnesses as the result of tainted lettuce. Before eating any type of lettuce it’s important to wash it thoroughly. A salad spinner is a handy tool that allows you to wash and dry your lettuce quickly. Washing not only removes any bacteria it also removes potential bugs, dirt, and pesticides.

If you’re looking for a fast and easy way to stay healthy and get your RDA of vegetables, you can’t go wrong with lettuce. It’s inexpensive, easy to prepare and there are enough varieties that your taste buds won’t become bored. Try lettuce with breakfast, lunch and dinner and start enjoying a healthier life.

 

Lettuce Recipes

 

Pear Salad with Raspberry Cream

¾ cup sour cream
¼ cup raspberry preserves
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
? teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 firm, ripe pears
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 head Bibb lettuce, torn
1 small head romaine lettuce, torn
½ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
½ cup fresh raspberries

Whisk together first 4 ingredients. Set dressing aside.

Peel pears, if desired; quarter pears. Brush with lemon juice.

Arrange lettuce on 4 plates. Arrange pear quarters over lettuce. Drizzle with dressing; sprinkle with cheese, bacon, and raspberries.

 

Chicken Apple Salad

2 cup chicken, cooked and diced
2 cup apples, unpared and diced
½ cup celery, chopped
¼ cup raisins
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup salad dressing or mayonnaise
6 lettuce cups

Mix all ingredients except lettuce. Chill thoroughly. Serve in lettuce cups.

 

Creamy Waldorf Salad

1 pkg (3oz) cream cheese, softened
1½ tsp sugar
1½ tsp orange juice
3 large apples, cubed
1 can (8oz) pineapple tidbits, drained
2 tbs chopped celery
2 tbs chopped pecans
2 tbs raisins
Leaf lettuce

Combine cream cheese, sugar, and juice in a small bowl; stir well and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients except lettuce in a medium bowl. Add cream cheese mixture to apple mixture; toss gently. Cover and chill. Toss again before serving in lettuce-lined bowls.

 

Utah Tacos

20 frozen rolls, thawed
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
6 cups chili
Shredded lettuce
Scallions, sliced
Diced tomatoes
Picante sauce or salsa
Sour cream (optional)

Thaw rolls, but do not allow to rise.

Heat chili and place in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Cut each thawed frozen roll into quarters. Place rolls on top o chili. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes.

To serve, shred lettuce and place on individual plates. Top with sliced green onions and diced tomatoes. Place a generous serving of chili and bread on top of lettuce. Top with salsa and a dollop of sour cream.