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Okay, I will unveil it. Baby Bok Choy. Well, I guess the title gave it away already but this is the best stuff. So this is a plant and there is also regular bok choy available of course. This is a plant that is a mixture of a leafy green and then a stalk. Actually the name itself bok choy comes from being shaped kind of like a spoon. Like a stirring device. Its these nice round leaves with these long celery stalks that are light in color that make it this way.
All these things that I will be saying apply to regular bok choy. Totally works fine. Just as nutritious. The baby is a little bit more of a distinct plant. That’s my favorite. It’s the same thing but smaller. So back to bok choy and some cool stuff about it. It is a Cruciferous plant to start with. Cruciferous is a family of plants that have very high amounts of useful compounds. These compounds are primarily called indole. They have a lot of positive effects helping our bodies detoxification pathways.
We take a lot of chemicals and we take even our own hormones and we break them down and we eliminate them. If this goes well then great. We have taken some junk out and we have made our hormones into some harmless by-products. When this does not go well there is this thing I call re-toxification which is where we make toxins even worse than when they started. We can do this to our hormones as well. We naturally have good versions of testosterone and estrogen that will provide for our bodies but we can make harmful bi-products. There are things like Dihydrotestosterone and Estrone. Its really these bi-products that have the bad effects we would associate with the hormones. Things like prostate cancer or breast cancer. These are things that are more driven by our hormone metabolites then they are by the hormones themselves. How much metabolites you make is really a function of how good our detoxification pathways work. One of the main things that can benefit this are the Cruciferous vegetables. So great food to include in the diet.
Bok choy among the many nutrients it is rich in it is an amazing source of Vitamin K. In fact, a cup of bok choy gives you well over half your days needs for Vitamin K. Like 64%. Vitamin K is important for calcium metabolism. We will talk a little more about this. Along those same lines, bok choy is also a really good source of calcium. You know we have got over a 150 milligrams of calcium per serving of that. Now calcium we get into two very different types. We get soluble calcium from plants and we get insoluble calcium from dairy foods or calcium-fortified foods. Almond milk has fortified calcium and orange juice has it added in. This is a kind of calcium that we do not absorb well and we do not distribute well. So by absorption, I mean that a large amount of that kind of calcium we poop out. We do not get it into our bloodstream. By distributing it I mean that it does not end up in our bones. It ends up making plaque or makes junk that clogs up our blood vessels and makes calcified stones in our joints so not good.
The soluble calcium that we would get from bok choy is very different. We absorb it so well and we distribute it so well we do not need these huge amounts of it. We do not need these 1000’s of milligrams. Now another fact that determines calcium’s fate, whether it is going to grow in our bones or create stones is how much Vitamin K we have along with it and bok choy has that Vitamin K built right in which is totally cool.
It is also a great source of Vitamin A. These are all really important for healthy skin. Healthy connective tissues, nails. Also for immune function. A cup of bok choy just about gives you a half of days needs for that. Bok choy is also a great source of potassium. So we have got around 500 or more milligrams of potassium per serving and this is a great mineral that we need for really offsetting sodium and then helping our muscles to contract really well.
It is also a rich source of folate and Vitamin B6, manganese which is also important for the bones and many of the D Vitamins. Lots and lots of good micronutrients. Also high in general in anti-oxidants. It is rich in Vitamin C. Its actually more than half the days serving of Vitamin C in that one cup of bok choy. It is also has a lot of other compounds that are kind of unique like plant anti-oxidants. You know cool things like Phenolic acids. Things that really reduce inflammation. Things that lower histamine production in the body. It is very useful for gentle natural sedatives. Gentle natural things that relax the muscle tissues. So a wonderful food. It also has some glucose. Those are also things that cut the risk for cancers.
Bok choy has been used for a long time in Asian cuisines, probably 1500 years or more. It is grown quite a bit locally now. When you are buying it like any plant you want ones that are pretty firm and pretty hardy. You know I see a lot in the store and I will pick it up and its all droopy. You know the leaves and the stalks are all kind of droopy and its past its age and those are not the good ones. It should not be wilted. Also look for things like cracks or browning or holes. Those are also good signs to avoid it and put it back. If you cook it will cook very quickly. You can also keep in an airtight storage container.
Another trick you can use for a lot of plants like this is that you can cut the base. You know there is a stem base on it from where it was cut from the ground and if you trim that and add the plant into a container of water that you can immerse it in and you refrigerate it in that position it will really become firm and crispy. If it was kind of wilted before you can totally turn these around.
I worked in a natural food cooperative and the manager there, in fact, this was back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and organic food was on such a premium. It was often times not the best quality produce because it did have to be shipped more and there was less demand for it so our lettuce looked really sad. Our manager did this incredible trick where he would trim the stem of it where it was browning and you could trim that part off and drop it in a container of water and keep it in the cooler and it will just ripen right up again and you can do this as well with bok choy. It is a really great thing to be able to do.
So how do you serve bok choy? You know you can just add it raw to food although it is one of the vegetables that does come out better cooked. In cooking it well you are really not losing those nutritional benefits. My very favorite is there is a thing called Ume short for Umeboshi and that is a special type of vinegar. There is Umeboshi plum paste and Umeboshi vinegar which is also called Ume plum vinegar. That plus a little bit of toasted sesame oil. You want the good toasted sesame oil from a health food store, particularly like an edan brand. There are a lot of brands that you will find in supermarkets that are often rancid and have a lot of poor quality oxidized oils. So get yourself some good toasted sesame oil and keep it refrigerated or even frozen if you are only going to use a little at a time or less frequently and it will last for a good length of time. It is amazing for the flavoring.
So the bok choy my favorite way of cooking is to separate the leaf from the stem. You then chop up the stem into smaller bite-size pieces as well as the leaves and then just heat up some water in the skillet. I like cast iron, a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Just heat about a quarter cup of water over a high flame and then add in the stems. Stir the stems until they start to soften. Right when they have cooked maybe a minute or two, its pretty fast, then add in the leaves. Give it a couple more stirs for maybe a minute or so. At the very end and this has been working well for me using about 3 cups of bok choy and that is going to be about 3 or 4 of the baby bok choy clusters or maybe about one larger head of full-size bok choy. So once the stem portions and the leaves have softened then add in about a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and about 1 or 2 teaspoons of the plum vinegar, give it a quick stir and voila you can serve it just like that. I have seen a lot more complicated recipes that add garlic and other ingredients those are totally cool. Just the way I tried described it and mentioned above is amazing though I promise. Other good additions are onions or mushrooms work well with bok choy but even by itself, it is one of my very favorites.
You know one thing I should mention and I did not about Cruciferous vegetables. There is a lot of fear-mongering about Cruciferous vegetables wrecking your thyroid and being carcinogenic. Ahhh. You know take a deep breath as that really is a non-issue. It does not even matter if they are cooked or raw or not. I will talk about more on that in other topics. Suffice to say that the food is totally fine. There are some other foods like soy milk that are different. Do not stress about bok choy it will not hurt your thyroid. So baby bok choy is one of my guilty pleasures although it is really not that guilty.
Hope you enjoyed that. Thanks for tuning in and I will back with you really soon with Reset Me With Dr. C.. Take great care of yourself.
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Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet, The Metabolism Reset Diet and The Thyroid Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, diabetes, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.