As Naturopathic Doctors, we love to remind our patients about the value of dark, leafy greens. Ideally, we get the majority of our nutrients from whole foods, and leafy greens are true nutritional powerhouses. I often recommend a serving of leafy greens a day, and there are many ways beyond a salad to enjoy these diverse vegetables.

Eating veggies that are growing around us, or in season, is common knowledge in many cultures. This leads to many root vegetables and more cooked, warming meals in the Canadian winter. There are always ways to get those beautiful greens in, and in many countries, they’re rarely eaten raw. Here are my 7 favourite ways to get greens in during the cooler months.

 1.  As a Side Dish

Any hardy green is super as a side. Various varieties of kale, Swiss chard, collard greens and even cabbage are wonderful lightly sauteed with a bit of oil or fat, garlic and a touch of salt. It’s really that easy! The other bonus is green leafies are typically easier to digest when lightly cooked, and since they wilt down so much, you can fit more on your plate.

2.  Added to Soups, Stews and Curries

When your warm soup, stew or curry is almost ready, throw in a handful of greens to wilt and add a pop of colour. One economical and quick way is to use the chopped kale or spinach in the frozen section.  A handful or two are typically barely noticeable in terms of taste, and add a great boost of nutrition to a winter meal.

3.  As a Wrap

Collard greens are actually a wonderful wrap!  Their big, flat leaves are quite fibrous.  A quick blanche in hot water makes them a bit more flexible for wrapping, though this step isn’t always required.

4.  In any Stir-Fry

Greens often are wonderful ribboned thinly and added to any veggies you are cooking. Add near serving time, and watch as they turn a brighter colour green, signifying they are cooked just enough.

5.  As an Addition to a Pasta or Pizza Dish

The hardier greens are a wonderful addition to any pasta (quickly roast or sautee first!) and add some beautiful texture and colour. Lighter greens, such as arugula, can be added on top of homemade pizzas for a nice spicy, nutty flavour profile.  

6.  Folded into an Omelette or Frittata

Experimenting with cooking, steaming or adding raw greens to your egg based dishes.  

7.  Sprouts

These little greens are seriously nutrient dense, and can be sprinkled on just about anything, warm or cold. They often lend a bit of complexity to dishes with their flavour, and are a beautiful final touch on a plate. They are very easy to grow at home from seed and there are lots of great tutorials online.

Check out 2 of our favourite dark leafy green recipes:  Kale and Roots Breakfast Hash  and  Fettucini with Balsamic Delicate Squash + Bitter Greens

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