I’m going to tell you something that most people find weird.
I used to eat iceberg lettuce by the head. Like an apple.
It was the most delicious thing.
My father always had a garden growing in the backyard. Within a week of moving to Florida, he’d called out the utilities company to have them map out where we could dig. Not for a pool, like most Yankees down south, for a garden. He would till it with his big machine and I would help him plant and pick. Among other things, we grew snap peas, cucumbers, peppers, blackberries (a miserable failure), grapes, strawberries (which weren’t as good as the Connecticut ones), and watermelons, an exotic treat for northerners. If I wanted a snack, I’d go out to the yard and pick a cucumber and it would be lucky if it made it back to the kitchen before it was eaten. I didn’t eat cooked vegetables until I was 18 or 19 because I loved the fresh ones so much (and still prefer them). And my absolute favorite thing of all… lettuce. Iceberg lettuce.
Taking off the outside most leaf… rinsing the head in some water… chomping down on that delicious, refreshing, amazing vegetable… it was divine.
But then something happened to Iceberg lettuce. “It has the nutritional content of water,” people would say. “You need to eat something with sustenance,” people would say. Suddenly, Romaine was the new hottness in the lettuce world. And it was okay. But its leafy greens didn’t provide the refreshing rush of liquid that Iceberg did. But Iceberg was bad for me… Well, not bad, but not good, so Romaine it had to be. Romaine is now almost passe as Spring Mix and the hardcore Spinach have burst onto the scene. So nutritious! But so… blech. So dry, so chewy, not crisp and lush like my lovely Iceberg.
Here’s the things with the “healthier” lettuces: I never used to put salad dressing on my Iceberg. Why would I sully it in such a way? But with the more nutritious lettuces, I’ve discovered the taste of dressing to cover the earthiness and bitterness of the leaves is necessary. But there are only so many days I can have these salads before I revolt and have fast food.
So I’ve decided to embrace my love of Iceberg. No longer will I hide in shame. No longer will I go for the Romaine just to keep up appearances! I will pile my plate with Iceberg and enjoy it! And when people give me crap about it, I will tell them how wrong they are. Because you know what Iceberg has? It has a bunch of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, and Manganese. It’s a great source of dietary fiber and potassium. It’s even got some protein in it. It’s got bang for your buck. I mean, seriously, guys, a whole head of lettuce is only just over 100 calories and packed with NINE GRAMS of fiber, 6.8 grams of protein, and a whopping 76% of your daily RDA for Vitamin A! It’s got a great fullness factor, too, allowing you to feel sated for much longer than less healthy snacks. With its refreshing crispness, it makes a perfect bed for even yummier veggies to go on top. My perfect salad is Iceberg, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers and grape tomatoes. The flavors compliment each other perfectly and help me feel refreshed for the afternoon, beating the 3 p.m. slump.
Yes, Iceberg is lower in some nutrients than other lettuces. But isn’t the important thing to be getting those nutrients in at all? If Iceberg means I choose a salad over Wendy’s, then I guess it looks like the better option, doesn’t it now?