chaya leaf

Pronunciation: [CHAY-yah]

The leaf of a fast-growing shrub that's native to Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. In Mexico and Central America it's prepared and eaten much like spinach is in the United States, which may be why it's sometimes referred to as tree spinach. Chaya leaf dates back to the Mayan culture, where it was valued for its health benefits. Studies show that it's actually richer in iron, calcium, potassium and other vitamins than spinach. The chaya leaf, like yuca, is toxic unless cooked. In addition to its use as a vegetable, the leaves can be used to make tea.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

Next Up

Root to Leaf Cookbook: Seasonal Cooking Straight from the Market

Before you hit the farmers market this spring, grab a copy of Steven Satterfield's gorgeous new book Root to Leaf for your complete guide to fresh, seasonal cooking.

The 22 Days Vegan Diet Plan: Love It or Leaf It?

You can’t deny that JLo’s new body is rocking! She credits her weight loss success to the 22-Day Vegan Diet. The same diet Beyonce and Jay Z popularized by posting food photos on Instagram. But is cutting out all animal products a healthy way to lose weight?

What to Watch: Turn Over a New Fall Leaf with Halloween-Themed Baking and a Triple-G Spook-tacular

Get all the details on the upcoming premieres this weekend on Food Network.

Related Pages