25 Naturally Green Foods (With Pictures!)
Green! It’s the color of all things fresh and natural. So, not surprisingly, if you’re looking to add a splash of green to your dishes, there are plenty of green foods to choose from.
Check out our list of 25 of the best, and you may find something new and surprising to try!
Although it’s 91% water, spinach contains 15 vitamins and minerals. It contains more iron than you’ll find in a typical hamburger, though that can be challenging to absorb due to the high levels of oxalates. Here’s the good news: cooking or juicing reduces oxalate levels, so you’ll get all the benefits.
Use raw leaves in mixed salads, or add to soups, stews, and virtually any cooked dish.
2. Green Beans
Green beans make the perfect side dish and can add a splash of color and crunchy texture to salads and sandwiches.
However, to ensure your green beans retain their tenderness and vibrant color, it’s best to blanch them before adding them to stir-fries or other dishes.
The rough dense peel slices open to reveal a pistachio-hued interior. Avocados have been the number one superfood for the past ten years, packed with fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Eat them with perhaps a few drops of lime and black pepper, or blitz them to make smoothies, mousses, or a delicious guacamole.
4. Green Peppers
Green peppers are simply unripened red peppers. Although less sweet than their red cousins, they can be used in all the same ways: roasted, baked, stuffed, added to salads, and used to top pizzas.
Another advantage of green peppers is that they withstand more prolonged cooking, which is ideal for slow cookers.
Seasonal asparagus, with its fibrous texture and delicate green hue, can be prepared in several ways: gently simmered until they’re just soft, steamed, roasted, grilled, broiled, or marinated as part of a mixed vegetable selection.
Related: Asparagus & Prosecco Risotto Recipe
6. Nopal Cactus
Nopal cactus, aka prickly pear or opuntia, is emerging as the latest superfood as it’s high in fiber, antioxidants, and carotenoids.
The leaves, flowers, stems, and fruit are all edible and popular in many parts of the world, especially in Central and South America. The flesh of the nopal is typically boiled or grilled, and it also makes nutritious juice and jams.
It’s even touted as a hangover cure, but if you’re unfamiliar with it, go easy, as some people find it hard to digest.
7. Kiwi Fruits
What is lovelier than the fluorescent green flesh of kiwi fruit, studded with tiny black seeds? But sliced kiwis are more than an ornamental addition to your fruit salad or breakfast cereal.
Ounce for ounce, they contain similar potassium levels as bananas and more Vitamin C than oranges. They also contain Vitamins A and E, flavonoids, and minerals. In fact, the kiwi fruit provides twice as much Vitamin E as an avocado, with only 60% of the calories.
8. Edamame Beans
Edamame beans are whole, immature soybeans. You can buy them in pods or ready-shelled. They can also be frozen, ready for defrosting, steaming, pan-frying, or microwaving.
Garnished with a simple pinch of salt, edamame are helpful in soups, stews, salads, or noodle dishes. Or you can simply enjoy snacking on them. Cooked and salted edamame beans are a popular Korean Thanksgiving dish.
9. Collard Greens
Deep green collards come from the same family as kale and have a similar nutritional profile – in other words, they’re perfect for you!
The stems are tough, so cut them away before slicing the leaves. Collard greens can be steamed or boiled, but most often, they’re tenderized by frying in fat for anything between 15 and 45 minutes. When cooked, their texture is silky, and they taste delicious.
10. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a summer crop, although you can also buy it frozen. As the days lengthen, you’ll find the bright green leaves, with their scarlet stems and veins, in fresh vegetable displays around the country.
Chard is like two vegetables in one: cook the leaves in the same way as kale or spinach. The somewhat bitter taste pairs well with lemon and salt (perhaps topped with cheese shavings). But don’t discard the stems. Instead, use them to introduce an interesting celery-like texture to casseroles.
11. Green Herbs
Although they’re typically used in small quantities, most culinary herbs are packed with phytonutrients. And as most of them can be grown easily, even in window boxes, they’re the easiest way to add a splash of vibrant green to top off your recipes.
If you imagine all seaweed is dull brownish-green, think again. Instead, look out for fresh yuyo, native to Peru and Chile. With its subtle taste, this glorious, lime-green seaweed is terrific in fish stews and all seafood-themed dishes.
Seaweed is packed with beneficial nutrients: protein, fiber, and plenty of vitamins. Also, when cultivated responsibly, it’s food that can genuinely be considered sustainable and good for the planet.
13. Green Tea
Green tea is an umbrella term for various types of tea, including dragonwell, gunpowder, sencha, and matcha. Green tea comes from the same plants as black tea but is processed differently, so the leaves don’t turn dark when they dry out.
It’s reputed to have health-giving properties, as it’s full of antioxidants. Not everyone appreciates the flavor, but this can be modified by adding honey or a few drops of lemon. In warm climates, brewed green tea can be chilled in the refrigerator for up to four days.
14. Green Apples
Fresh, bright green apples are perhaps the world’s most popular fruit. Each of the many green varieties, including Crispins, Shizukas, and Pippins, has a unique taste.
15. Mung Beans
Not actually a bean, it’s a pulse. These tiny green beads of goodness offer an excellent nutritional balance as they are packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Mung beans are pretty bland, so they’re not often eaten separately. Instead, after simmering for up to 45 minutes until they soften, stir them into soups, curries, dhals, or tomato-based sauces.
Broccoli is a superfood as it boasts many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. It also offers more protein and fiber than many other vegetables.
This beautiful green veggie can be enjoyed raw, in salads, and as a scoop for healthy dips. However, recent studies reveal that gentle steaming is the best way to retain all the beneficial nutrients. Still, it can be prepared in many ways – it partners particularly well with grated cheese or lemon juice and butter. Or, simply drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
If the stems are thick and tough, there is no need to waste them. Just slice and toss them in with the florets. Delicious!
17. Green Pumpkins
Green pumpkins can have dark green, light green, or multicolored rinds, but their flesh is almost always a shade of orange. But if it’s the unusual green color you’re after for an ornamental harvest display, varieties such as Marina di Chioggia, Green Hubbard, and Bonbon will grab attention.
Calabaza is more commonly known as winter squash. The rind can be green or orange, but the flesh is always orange or yellow.
As it can be used in the same way as pumpkins, there are many different ways to prepare Calabaza. Its smooth texture and sweet flavor make it a useful ingredient in stews, cakes, and sweet pies. In addition, Calabaza is a rich source of beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A in the body.
Chayote is a bumpy, thin-skinned green squash originally from Mexico. It’s technically a fruit but is treated like a vegetable for cooking purposes.
The seeds, skin, and flowers of the chayote are all edible. It’s prized for its pale green flesh, which is crunchy when raw. The intriguing flavor is mild and somewhat sweet, resembling a cucumber, so it’s prized as a refreshing snack and for its many nutritional benefits.
Limes don’t only add vibrant color to fruit bowls and as a garnish, their juice is simply irreplaceable. However, while many people treat lemons and limes interchangeably, limes have no equal when you need a strong, sour, acidic punch (for example, in margaritas!).
If you ever get hold of one, the Australian finger lime, which is skinny and at first glance uninteresting, will astonish you. When cut open, hundreds of tiny green beads, each packed with lime juice, tumble out easily.
As if that’s not weird enough – place these naturally green fruits on your tongue, and they explode, releasing a powerful citrus flavor. This unique quality has earned them the name ‘lime caviar’.
Related: Lime Soup Recipe
Arugula resembles lettuce but is in fact a brassica, like cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and sprouts. It’s also known as rocket, roquette, or rugola.
Native to the Mediterranean, its peppery, spicy, and nutty flavor makes it a staple of the region’s cuisine, and it’s a favorite in Italian and Greek dishes.
22. Bok Choy
Also known as Chinese white cabbage, bok choy has a wonderfully crisp texture and a grassy flavor that gets nuttier as you cook it.
23. Green Gooseberries
These sour little green jewels make beautiful additions to crumbles and hot desserts. They are also a perfect ingredient for fools, mousses, icecreams, and jellies. They also make fantastic chutneys.
24. Bitter Gourd
Bitter gourd, aka bitter melon, squash, balsam-pear, karela, and goya in different parts of the world, looks like an ugly, knobbly cucumber. And the taste, as you might expect from the name, is predominantly, well, bitter.
However, that’s no reason to write it off. People have been using it for centuries, and it’s especially prized for its supposed cleansing powers.
Nutrient-dense watercress, with its spicy, peppery tang, adds color and flavor to all kinds of dishes. Eat it raw, in salads, juice it, blend it into smoothies, and make it into soups and sauces (it makes wonderful pesto).
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