Vegan Nutrition and Wellness - Nikki Torres

Local Greens that Pack a Punch Without Breaking the Bank

Disclaimer: I am making lunch as I write this so while I often (yep, not all the time) proof-read the articles I put out, there may be a few typos here and there as I juggle blogging and keeping the tofu on the pan from burning. 

I just felt the urge to blog suddenly while chopping up my vegetables and washing my greens. Food preparation is such great therapy for me. Thoughts and ideas pop up the way they do in the shower for most people.

So today, although I’ve run this through my head a billion times in the past, I wondered (yet again) why people still find eating healthy a burden. For most of us, there are three main reasons why: budget, time and accessibility. Let’s stick to the first one for the sake of keeping our thoughts streamlined throughout this blog post.

And to further narrow down the topic of discussion, let’s talk about how we ended up thinking that greens, as in the dark leafy vegetables your momma and pre-school teacher told you were good for you, always leave a damn hole in our pockets when they barely fill you up!

I blame it on KALE. So fuck Kale. No just kidding. I love Kale. But I also blame, Quinoa (while a pot of it is boiling on the stove right now) and how these food items were put so high on a pedestal, they never come cheap. My point is, yes, these foods help keep you healthy but they’re NOT the only ones that can. The nutrients you find in highly regarded or should I say, HYPED foods can be found in other sources too–just probably not altogether in one food.

You’ll be surprised how powerful other local dark leafy greens are. And they just might be growing in your own backyard. Okay, maybe not. But they are not at all as expensive as others.

Here are a few that are going in my bowl today:


Also known as Malabar Red Spinach. It’s a rich source of Iron, Folate (here I holla atchu, expecting moms!), Vitamins A and C, B Vitamins and antioxidants.


Great source of Cal-Mag-Zinc (among others) meaning it is awesome for muscle recovery. It’s also known to help treat diabetes. I actually add these in my smoothies in place of spinach–a hack I learned during a trip to Siargao.


Moringa is EVERYTHING. It’s rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. It’s the superfood you should be eating every single day. Why? Three reasons 1) It’s a stronger anti-inflammatory than Turmeric 2) It’s easy to sneak into what we eat (check out this ground up, powdered version from The Superfood Grocer) 3) It’s cheap and abundant —at least in the Philippines.

Vegan Green Bowl - Nikki Torres Wellness
In this bowl: Quinoa with Moringa Powder, Mix Vegetable and Tofu Stir Fry, Mushrooms, Alugbati and Camote Tops, Lemon wedge and Sriracha

Others you may want to consider picking up the next time you are at the market or grocery store:


Bok Choy or Chinese Cabbage contains a range of  vitamins and minerals that are often disregarded (ever conscious about where you get your Choline, Selenium and Phosphorus? Bet not.) These vitamins and minerals, although needed in smaller amounts by the body, are essential to ensure optimum performance. Think, no dipping of energy, proper nerve function and muscle movement, brain development, healthy metabolism and liver function. You’re welcome.


Sayote or Chayote Leaves contains essential vitamins and dietary fiber. Also, a recent study shows the vegetable lowers Uric acid levels in the body.


High in antioxidants that help prevent cell damage, Mustard Greens (known locally as Mustasa), gives you a facial from the inside. It keeps eyes and skin protected, detoxifies your blood and liver and is rich in fiber and Vitamin C.

Know of other inexpensive, local nutrient-dense greens you want to add to this list? Send me an email or hit me up via the Comments section. <3