As our readers know our Monday featured articles are set aside for the promotion of the Meatless Monday food program. In today’s article we will focus our attention on healthy source of nutrients and low in calories which can be found on gourmet trucks or carts around the country. Arugula gained a lot of recognition when President Obama mentioned it during his Presidential run in 2008, but was an ingredient found in almost every vegetarian or vegan refrigerator prior to that time.

Arugula: A Superfood For Bones On Food Trucks

While Ancient Egyptians and Romans considered arugula to be an aphrodisiac, modern nutrition science suggests it may have benefits for your bones.

Nutrient-rich and low in calories – just 20 calories in about three cups – arugula provides an excellent source of folate, vitamins A and C, and over 100% of your daily vitamin K needs. This same serving supplies a good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese. The fact that this leafy green, unlike spinach, is lower in oxalates gives a “green” light to arugula’s calcium availability. Researchers now believe that the nutrients needed for bone building go beyond calcium.

Arugula also has significant quantities of the phytochemicals beta-carotene (promotes healthy eyes, skin and immune function), lutein and zeaxanthin (promote eye health) and glucosinolates (promote the body’s natural detoxification systems). Besides its health benefits, arugula, or rocket, is peppery and aromatic, with a pungent, somewhat bitter flavor that adds zest to any meal.

Arugula Characteristics

  • Seasons/Availability. Arugula is available year round. Arugula that is sequentially planted and harvested encourages new growth and prevents the plant from producing flowers and decreases the life longevity of the plant. One can determine aged crops vs. fresh crops by the toughness and intensity of the leaves and the woodiness of its stems.
  • Description/Taste. Arugula is mistaken to be a leafy green, but it is in fact an annual herb. Its flavor proves its herbaceous qualities with peppery essences and mustard like flavors. When the plant matures it produces four-lobed white flowers. These flowers have purple veins that are also peppery in flavor and equally edible.
  • Applications. It is considered an herb, a salad green and even a leaf vegetable. This makes it a versatile ingredient in a food truck kitchen. When arugula is grown as an herb it is often woodier and more strongly flavored. Add this variety of arugula to raw pesto and sauces where its pungency will come through. Add whole leaves to grilled cheese sandwiches or a BLT. Use as a leafy bed for grilled seafood or vegetables. Use within a week of purchase and keep dry and refrigerated.
  • Ethnic/Cultural Info. It is often used as a pizza topping in Italian cuisine. It is often added to the pizza at the end of the baking period or just after it comes out of the oven so as not to lose the intensity of its flavor.
  • Geography/History. Arugula’s vernacular name is garden rocket or simply rocket. It is of the species Eruca setiva and native to the Mediterranean region, specifically Morocco, Portugal and Lebanon. It can grown on dry land and wet soil alike.

The Bottom Line

Arugula is a fantastic and tasty option on any type of burger, salad, or even grilled cheese sandwich. Please do your part today and join the Meatless Monday movement. Interested in a recipe with arugula in it? Check <here>

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