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In A Veggie Rut? Try This Vegetable Diet Strategy!

We are always pushing our patients to eat more vegetables but more importantly eat in season, eat locally and eat a variety.  But with so many days in the year, we even get into vegetable ruts sometimes. It’s easy to fall into a routine, especially when you’re busy and surprisingly during summer (peak veggie season!).  I once counted the consecutive days I’ve eaten kale and I’m surprised I haven’t received an endorsement deal from the kale industry yet. While kale is extremely healthy (Vitamin A, K, C, B6, magnesium, antioxidants), eating too much of one thing is not good for you. Eating excessive amounts of raw kale can cause interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis.  Raw kale is just an example, consecutive days or multiple meals of eating any one vegetable is not good for you.  

So how do you get out of a veggie rut?  One piece of advice we always give patients is pick a vegetable that you’ve not cooked before and find recipes that feature that crop.  It’s fun, helps you flex your cooking prowess and you may find your next favorite veggie. You don’t have to stick to cuisines you know.  Try searching “zucchini recipes Asia” and you will see a plethora of dishes you may not have even heard of. Often vegetables that grow in the United States also grow well in other areas of similar latitudes so don’t limit yourself to just one cuisine.  

Don’t restrict your search to just the usual grocery stores.  Some of the most unique items can often be found at farmers markets and ethnic markets around the city.  By singling out one vegetable, it can make the task less daunting. Greenmarkets often have very knowledgeable sales staff you can ask for suggestions of what’s at peak season and what they recommend. 

To kick start your adventure, here are two greens I frequently find at the Union Square Greenmarket that many people don’t know about.  

Red Amaranth Leaf:

  • You may have heard of the amaranth grain as healthy cousin to quinoa, that’s actually the seed to the leaf
  • It is native to Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean (called callaloo) 
  • Nutrition benefits: 
    • Contains tocotrienols – a form of Vitamin E that helps reduce cholesterol and helps prevent heart disease
    • Good source of potassium – helps the body move oxygen to the brain
    • Good source of magnesium – we are always singing the praises of magnesium for its ability to regulate bowel movements, mood and hormones
    • Good source of iron – one of the highest plant based iron sources
  • You can cook it as you would spinach – in soup, sauteed, baked into frittata, or fermented

Perilla Leaf: 

  • Often found in East Asian cuisine, the mighty perilla is very nutritious 
  • It is low in calories and sugar but high in carbohydrates and dietary fiber – gives you energy and keeps you full
  • High in calcium, iron and vitamin C
  • Pharmaceutical research show that the perilla leaf is Leaf extracts have shown antioxidant, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, anorexigenic, and tumor-preventing properties
  • In Asian countries, perilla is often cooked with seafood because it prevents food poisoning (that’s what the little green plastic strip is supposed to represent in takeout sushi) 
  • Perilla can be cooked similar to red amaranth and it is often eaten raw in Asia but only in small amounts (similar to how we use basil as a garnish) 



Cruciferous Vegetables. (2019, January 02). Retrieved from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/food-beverages/cruciferous-vegetables#nutrient-interactions

Gunnars, K. (2018, June 29). 10 Health Benefits of Kale. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-kale

Novak, S. (2017, April 13). 7 Reasons Amaranth Greens are the New Kale. Retrieved from https://www.organicauthority.com/energetic-health/goodbye-kale-7-reasons-why-amaranth-leaves-are-the-next-super-green

Nutritional Content of Perilla Leaves. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/458097-nutritional-content-of-perilla-leaves/

Perilla Uses, Benefits & Dosage – Drugs.com Herbal Database. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/npp/perilla.html