An unbalanced diet which includes too much carbs or too little proteins can lead to a host of health problems. This may be prevented by eating moderate amounts of leaves of known plant species.
An excellent source of fiber, edible leaves contain good quantities of proteins, vitamins and minerals. By cooking the leaves, in most cases, the excessive heat will kill off the enzyme that produces toxic chemicals.
Vietnamese Leaf Salad
Lying in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam, the Kon Tum province offers a distinctly unique leaf salad called goi la, consisting of 40 to 50 kinds of leaves, of which 10 to 20 plant species can only be gathered from the fast disappearing forests.
Many of these, like perilla leaves (Perilla frutescens) moxa herb-mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris), buffalo’s tongue (Berkheya setifera) and skunk vine are medicinal plants, beneficial for the health of your respiratory, digestive and immune systems.
In particular, hook weed (Galium aparine) detoxifies the body, purifies the blood and promotes healing; while vajra (Caralluma attenuate) has anti-diabetic effects.
Thai Multi-Flavored Hors d’oeuvres
There is a Thai street food, miang kham where wild pepper leaves are folded into bite-sized cones to be filled with assorted foods.
A rich source of vitamin C, the nutritious leaves of wild pepper-grass (Lepidium virginicumare) are diuretic and thus, detoxifying. Its merits lie in expelling worms from the intestine, to treating diabetes and relieving rheumatic pain.
To off-set the hot, cress-like wild pepper flavor, a generous filling presents different textures and tastes through a fascinating mix of: vegan shrimps, unsalted roasted peanuts, toasted shredded coconut, chopped chillies, diced young ginger, asian shallots and unpeeled lime quarters.
The filled cone is then sealed with a sweet and salty dipping sauce of vegan shrimp paste and fish sauce, with a touch of jaggery sugar.
Hakka-Chinese Leaf Rice Cakes
From a small Hakka-Chinese village of Titi in Malaysia, are some confectionery experts in 3 local artisan leaf cakes, made from the ramie, skunk vine and argy wormwood weeds growing profusely in that region.
These cake makers truly understand how to use wild edible leaves as sources of supplemental plant foods and medicine. With respect to food safety, their rice cakes are completely free from coloring, preservatives and other chemical addictives.
For example, the ramie or Chinese grass (Boehmeria nivea) is high in fiber, proteins and minerals like calcium, and amino acid. Also, it has properties that treat, prevent or alleviate disease symptoms; and reduce inflammation as well.
Not to be outdone, the skunk vine or Chinese fever vine (Paederia foetida) contains 2 active constituents that fight cancer of the mouth, digestive tract and skull. Besides, it has properties that promote blood circulation and regular maintenance of the body.
Some of the good things the argy wormwood (Artemisia Argyi) can do for your body are stalling the growth of bacteria, viruses or fungi that cause diseases, treating coughs. reducing fever. and stopping wounds from bleeding.
To prepare the weed leaves for use, they are first soaked or boiled in hot water, squeezed dry and ground into a paste before being mixed with glutinous rice flour and steamed as chewy cakes. These simple flour confections should ideally be seasoned with just a little blackstrap molasses or stevia.
So, a plant-based diet is not as dreary as you may make it out to be. Eating leaves, for instance, can be pretty exciting and totally satisfying, as you will see.