Spinach and kale are the most popular leafy green for green smoothies. But there are so many other mineral-rich leafies to use – such as bok choy!
Bok choy, also called pak choi or “Chinese cabbage”, is a cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage, kale, and broccoli. It has flat, dark green leaves with a long, wide white stalk.
Bok choy tastes a bit like spinach, or “greener”. It’s sort of like a combination between spinach and kale. It’s not too bitter. I like it!
It’s not as “leafy” as curly kale or spinach, but bok choy definitely adds a powerful dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your green smoothie.
Bok Choy Nutrition and Health Benefits
Five leaves of bok choy (about 1 cup, shredded) only contains 9 calories, but provides 104% RDA of vitamin A (as beta-carotene), 35% RDA vitamin C, 27% RDA vitamin K and 12% RDA of folate.
When it comes to minerals, five leaves contain 70mg of calcium (7% RDA) and small amounts of most other minerals.
Like other cruciferous vegetables, bok choy contains glucosinolates, which have chemo-protective properties that may help prevent and fight cancer cells and reduce oxidative stress, acting as an antioxidant.
While glucosinolates have health promoting benefits, people with thyroid disorders should avoid or limit cruciferous vegetables. Foods like kale, bok choy, and broccoli contain substances that act as goitrogens. While this is a non-issue for most people, they can negatively impact an existing thyroid condition, or exacerbate an existing iodine deficiency.
How To Use Bok Choy In A Smoothie
Bok choy has a distinctive, mildly-bitter flavor. It tastes somewhat like spinach, only stronger. I actually really like the flavor.
In a green smoothie, bok choy is easily masked by just about any fruit that you add to it. You can use bok choy interchangeably with baby spinach. I’d say it’s less bitter than kale, and certainly a lot less bitter than dandelion. Be sure to use the entire white stalk/bulb part too!
You’ll get a good helping of vitamins and minerals if you use about 10 leaves in a typical smoothie.
You can also use baby bok choy, which is smaller than regular bok choy. For a typical meal-replacement green smoothie, I’ll use 2-3 heads of baby bok choy, cutting off about an inch or so of the white bulb part.
How To Select And Store Bok Choy
Select bok choy that has dark green leaves and bright, white stalks (baby bok choy might have greenish stalks). Avoid any that is wilted or yellowing.
I keep all my leafy greens in clear plastic tubs in the refrigerator (or use your vegetable crisper drawer). Add a strip of paper towel or a dry cloth to absorb excess moisture and condensation.
Three heads of baby bok choy were still crisp and fresh after five days stored this way. Don’t leave greens in plastic produce bags as they will go bad very quickly.
As with any leafy green, choose organic whenever possible. Unless you routinely shop in an organic market or a health food store, you might have difficulty finding organic bok choy.
Use bok choy in your next green smoothie recipe.