Canada's Food Guide recommends trying to fill half your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables. There are a host of options out there - and all of them can add amazing flavour to your meal routine. Here's a simple primer on common dark leafy greens, sharing tips on everything from what they taste like, to how to use them.
Common dark leafy greens
Sweet and mild with tender leaves and crisp edible stalks. Chop and add to a stir-fry or fried rice, or cut lengthwise and grill to desired tenderness. Stalks stay crunchy when cooked.
Peppery and slightly sharp with big leaves and tough stems. Remove the tough centre stems and work with the leaves. The sturdiness of the leaves means kale can be sautéed, roasted into chips, baked in a casserole, or added to a soup.
Smoky flavour with dense, meaty texture. Traditional southern dishes call for cooking collards slowly in simmering water until tender, but they're equally good when raw and thinly chopped and used in place of lettuce or cabbage. Strip the leaves from the stalk using your hands or a sharp knife; discard the stalk.
Use halved raw (or blanched) leaves for tacos or sandwich wraps in place of tortillas or flatbreads.
Mellow flavour; edible stalks vary in colour and remain tender-crisp after cooking. Sauté in olive oil for a super simple side dish, layer the leaves in lasagnas, or use stems and leaves in soups and stews for added texture and flavour. You can trim stalks to be cooked first, then add leaves toward the end of cooking to keep them from being overcooked.
Soft, sweet, and mild-flavoured with small, tender leaves. Braise, sauté, or use raw. Spinach works well with flavours ranging from sweet and fruity, like berries, to briny and salty, like feta cheese. Enjoy in salads, or try sautéed or braised and added to eggs, pasta and soups. Rinse well to remove sand and dirt.
Adding a green boost to brownies: Cook spinach, strain, cool and chop (finely chopped, about ½ cup/125 mL). Stir into the batter.
Pungent and peppery flavour that some find slightly bitter; a mustard relative. Enjoy both the leaves and stems, but avoid tough roots. Watercress adds a new dimension of flavour to a salad or sandwich; also try it cooked in soup or egg dishes such as quiche.
How to properly store dark leafy greens
Store in the fridge for up to seven days. Discard when leaves become wilted or brown.