Beyond Trim: Score good nutrition with greens

Sherry DeWalt

You’ve probably never heard of Dr. Sarah Ballantyne but, if you’re a nutrition nerd like me, you would really appreciate her work. Ballantyne is the author of a book called “Nutrivore: The Radical New Science for Getting the Nutrients You Need from the Food You Eat.”

According to Ballantyne, the concept of Nutrivore is to “choose foods such that the total of all the nutrients contained within those foods adds up throughout the day to meet or safely exceed our daily requirements for the full complement of essential and important nutrients, while also staying within our caloric requirements.” She developed the Nutrivore Score, which measures the total amount of nutrients per calorie a food contains.

Which foods does she consider to be the most nutrient dense per calorie? I wasn’t surprised to learn that several types of leafy green vegetables are at the top of the list. The most nutrient-dense greens include chard, kale, mustard greens and kale, but all greens – including lettuce – get good scores on the Nutrivore scale.

I eat my share of kale and spinach, but my favorite leafy green vegetable is romaine lettuce. With grilling season upon us, I thought I would share this recipe for grilled romaine. It’s a surprising preparation but one I think you will enjoy.

Grilled romaine salad w/ simple vinaigrette

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1-2 teaspoons fresh herbs or 1½ teaspoons dried

Salt and pepper to taste

1 head romaine lettuce, left intact

Grated parmesan or blue cheese (optional)

Directions: Prepare your grill by setting it to the highest heat. To make the vinaigrette, add the oil, vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Prepare the lettuce by trimming off any brown discoloration at the cut end. Try to leave as much of the core as possible. Remove any discolored leaves and trim the leafy end if needed. Cut the head in half lengthwise. Brush all sides of the lettuce with some of the vinaigrette, reserving a portion of the dressing to use after cooking. Place the lettuce on the grill, cut-side down and cook for one to two minutes until grill marks are present. Turn and grill for one to two minutes on each remaining side. Remove from grill and brush with additional vinaigrette. Sprinkle with cheese if desired and serve warm.

Makes two to four servings depending on the size of your lettuce.

Sherry DeWalt is the healthy lifestyles coordinator for the CGH Health Foundation in Sterling.

Have a Question about this article?