Watercress is packed with health benefits, and has a great taste which means it doesn’t feel like you are eating vegetables. It resembles spinach but has that unique taste that everyone loves. Watercress might not be for everyone but there are always good alternatives.
Whether you like watercress or not, here are some perfect substitutes that you can use instead: lettuce, Chinese cabbage, water spinach, dandelion greens, spinach, purslane, arugula, radicchio, kale, endive, nasturtium leaves, and cabbage.
Surprisingly, there’s a wide range of leafy vegetables that you can use in place of watercress. Let’s see how these substitutes can make a great difference.
The best thing about lettuce is that you can find different variants to choose from: iceberg lettuce, butterhead, Batavia, Lactuca, celtuce and so many more. All of them are low in calories but packed with healthy, beneficial nutrients.
Lettuce is mostly used in salads and sandwiches but can be a pizza topping as well. Not really a winner when used with soups and stews but it can be used in stir-fry dishes with a short cooking time.
2. Chinese Cabbage
If you’re a fan of kimchi, you will know that Chinese cabbage is the major ingredient in this famous Korean dish. Apart from using it for kimchi, Chinese cabbage is also an excellent substitute for watercress.
It has no bitter taste, and is a crunchy and succulent leaf that works well with any type of dish. You can have it pickled, mixed into a stir fry, use it to add texture to soups and stews, or even as a wrap. It’s healthy, affordable, and readily available in most supermarkets around the world.
3. Water Spinach
Water spinach is widely known, especially in tropical areas. It’s one of the cheapest greens you can get as it grows easily without high maintenance. It thrives in moist areas (which is why you see it growing near rivers, streams, and lakes).
It’s a leafy vegetable that has long thin leaves. The taste is savory and crunchy, especially when cooked well. It’s best prepared when steamed and mixed with other vegetables. You can have it in a salad, soups or even as a delicious snack. Deep-fried water spinach is a guilt-free fried snack in some Asian countries.
4. Dandelion Green
Dandelion greens are another leafy vegetable that has unique, sharp side ridges on its leaves. It’s a great substitute for watercress as it offers much nutritional value with tons of great health benefits.
A one cup serving provides protein, iron, minerals, and calcium. If you like to maintain a healthy lifestyle and want to step up your intake of healthy nutrients, generous consumption of dandelion greens is an excellent idea.
There is no mystery as to why Popeye loves spinach. It’s readily available, affordable, easy to prepare, and offers great nutritional value that helped him become stronger. Outside this comical story, these facts are mostly true in real life.
Spinach is a very easy-to-find leafy vegetable that can be bought fresh all year round. It varies from small to large leaves, depending on the season. Nevertheless, spinach is one of the superfoods that everyone should stock in their kitchen.
Purslane is excellent when eaten raw. If you prefer a leafy, succulent vegetable that has a bite, then purslane is the way to go. Watercress and purslane have the same taste profile, which makes them a great substitute for each other in salads and sandwiches. I personally add a little shred of purslane on my pizza or bruschetta to make it into a healthier meal.
What’s not to love about arugula? Its herby smell and less bitter taste is something that even the pickiest eater might want to try. This leafy vegetable is a taste-friendly one that you can offer if you are trying to introduce someone to a healthy bowl of salad.
One of my favorite recipes using arugula is by mixing it in my burger patties. Kids love a heaping tall burger for lunch or dinner. To make it healthier (without them noticing any trace of vegetable), I add some chopped arugula to add some delicious health benefits.
Leafy vegetables can be very healthy but can be boring at the same time, too. Give your regular bowl of salad a makeover by adding some color to it. A good chunk of radicchio (a red-colored leafy vegetable) might just entice your appetite for healthy eating.
It’s juicy, leafy, and a little bit bitter but not as bad as its competitors. Radicchio can be enjoyed either raw or cooked, whichever you prefer. I personally like it as a good bowl of salad just to change up the regular green salads that I concoct daily.
Speaking of leafy superfoods, kale is one of the top contenders. This thick, leafy vegetable is the go-to healthy vegetable for individuals who are trying to be fit or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
It’s a common ingredient for a green juice or smoothie, salad, stir-fried dishes, or even crispy chips. Other than getting it fresh from the market, you can find a variety of kale products as a powder, snack, or dried.
Endive resembles the taste of a regular cabbage with just a little hint of bitterness. The physical appearance is like a tiny Chinese cabbage with tighter leaves. If you like the taste of lettuce, endive is a great option.
Just be mindful that it might not be available in some areas – but if it’s in season in your country, take advantage of its great taste before it’s too late.
11. Nasturtium Leaves
No watercress available? Why not try the Indian counterpart, nasturtium leaves? It’s pretty much the same as watercress both in taste, aroma, and texture. It’s just that nasturtium leaves are bigger and thicker, especially the stems.
Although it doesn’t look so appetizing at first, don’t judge it without trying it. All parts of this leafy vegetable are equally edible and nutritious, and you might think twice before going back to your regular watercress.
When you can’t find anything else, cabbage is fine as a substitute. This leafy vegetable might be common, but hey, this one never fails. Instead of giving yourself a hard time looking for another leafy substitute, cabbage will work just fine. You can enjoy it with salads in the summer or soups in the winter. The best thing about it? It’s cheap and always available.
Is watercress best eaten raw or cooked?
Watercress can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. However, note that the nutrients of this leafy vegetable reduce during cooking. That’s why most people prefer to eat it raw.
Is watercress a superfood?
Just like the rest of leafy vegetables, watercress is the ultimate superfood. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can help to meet your body’s daily needs.
Is watercress bad for your gut?
Actually, watercress can help maintain a healthy gut. It’s one of the best natural diuretics and laxatives, helping to improve your digestive system and to flush bad toxins away.
As we are in the new year, that means new beginnings and new goals in life. Make eating healthier a part of your goal, as well as trying out different healthy leafy vegetables. Remember, health is wealth!