Yoli’s Guide to Dark, Leafy Greens

A few days ago, I walked into an event with a bag of fresh veggies and fruit. A lovely bunch of lacinato kale stuck out looking rich in nutrients and lovely. One man stopped and asked me, “What is that?” I informed him it was kale and was totally unprepared for his response. “Kale? What is that?” In my head, my heart skipped, my inner jaw dropped, and I looked at him as if her were crazy. But alas I kept my composure and showed him the kale and it’s texture, explained what it is, and told him a simple way to prepare it.

My shock was because I figured an adult male in an urban city would know what kale is. But thinking back to experiences teaching children in food deserts, sometimes that knowledge isn’t passed on. And if it doesn’t look familiar, it doesn’t get eaten. So, what better way to get you in the know then by formally introducing you to your next best food friends?


Kale is a type of cabbage (surprise!) that tastes nothing like cabbage. It is one of the top 3 vegetables you should add to your diet.

Nutrients: Extremely high in Vitamin K and A. High in Vitamins C. Also is a good source of manganese, fiber, copper, calcium, Vitamin B6, E, B2, B1, B3, potassium, iron, magnesium, omega 3, protein, folate, phosphorus.

Health Properties: anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer nutrients, antioxidants, cholesterol lowering properties.

To ensure you maintain the nutrients, you can quickly steam or sauté the kale for about 6 minutes.

Types of kale:

Curly Kale

Mild in flavor, curly kale is great to cook with by sautéing, braising, blanching, chopping finely for a raw salad, or putting it into smoothies or juiced. It is the all around, friendly and most recognized kale.

Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale

My second favorite variety is lacinato, also known as Dinosaur kale because of its texture. When cooked within a day or two of being harvested or purchased, lacinato is incredibly hearty and buttery. I like to pseudo saute and steam with a little bit of sea salt, garlic, 2 tbs of water, and a drip of olive oil.

Russian Kale

This is another mild kale, but a little more rich in flavor profile and tender than the curly kale. It needs less cooking time as well.

Kamome Red Kale

Yes it looks like the ornamental, decorations you see in the fall but there is a variety that is edible. This is by far my favorite kale to consume. The purple part of the bunch is probably the sweetest, most tender variety of kale you will ever have, and saute really quickly. The darker leaves are a tad tough and require more cooking time. This particular bunch in the image is from one of my go to farms at the farmer’s market.


Chard is another powerful veggie, only second to spinach in nutrient density and is related to the beet. young chard is great for adding to salads and for larger leaves, they can be cooked. Chard cooks very similar to spinach in terms of texture and time, about 3-4 minutes. For soups and stews, keep and use the stems for more flavor.

Nutrients: Extremely high in Vitamin K and A. High in Vitamins C. Also is a good source of manganese, fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, Vitamins B6, E, B2, B1, B3, B5, choline, protein, folate, phosphorus, zinc, biotin.

Health Properties: anti-inflammatory, supports bone health because of calcium, antioxidants, blood sugar regulation.

Types of Chard:

Swiss Chard

Red Chard

It has a similar taste profile to spinach with bitterness of beet greens, so slightly salty and slightly bitter.

Golden Chard

While striking in color, golden chard is a bit more mild and earthy in flavor.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow chard is a mix of swiss, red, and golden chards.


Spinach one of the most nutrient dense vegetables. Baby spinach is great for salads and adult spinach can be cooked or boiled to reduce oxalic acid content.

Nutrients: Extremely high in Vitamin K and A. Good source of manganese, magnesium, folate, copper, calcium, iron, potassium, Vitamins C, B2, B6, B1, B3, E, choline, protein, fiber, phosphorus, zinc, omega 3s.

Health Properties: anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties, antioxidants, supports bone health because of calcium.

Mustard Greens

I personally love to add bits of mustard greens to salads, as they provide a tender, crunchy, and peppery kick.

Nutrients: Extremely high in Vitamin K and A. High in Vitamin C. Good source of manganese, folate, fiber, calcium, copper, potassium, Vitamins B2, B6, B1, B3, E, choline, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, iron.

Health Properties: anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, cholesterol lowering properties.

Collard Greens

Collards can vary in taste depending on the season. But typically, they taste like a hearty, nuttier combination of cabbage and kale. Collards provide a very powerful detox when juiced. It is best not to overcook any greens to retain most of the nutrients. I like to chop collards, and saute in 2-3 tablespoons of water, drizzled with olive oil.

Nutrients: Extremely high in Vitamin K and A. High in Vitamin C. Good source of manganese, folate, fiber, calcium, iron, copper, choline, potassium, Vitamins B2, B6, B3, B1, B5, E, omega 3s, protein, magnesium, phosphorus.

Health Properties: anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, cholesterol lowering properties, digestive support (fiber).


Tatsoi is a spoon-shaped, asian green that looks like a combination of spinach, lacinato kale, and bok choy and tastes like a mild spinach and mustard green with cabbage texture and a mix of sweet, earthy flavors. Can be used as a substitute for spinach or bok choy in recipes. It is delicious eaten raw or cooked, especially sauteed.

Nutrients: Very High in Vitamins A, K, C. High in calcium and beta carotene. Good source of manganese, folate, fiber, potassium, Vitamins B1, B2, B6, E, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc.

Health Properties: anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, anti-cancer nutrients.

This guide is to provide a list of some greens you might see at your local farmer’s market.
What other dark, leafy greens do you enjoy?
Yoli’s Green Living


YGL staff