Kristi Whitley

Healthy Living

 

 
Collard greens are in season in cool weather and the colder it gets the sweeter the greens get. Aunt Syble gets her truck out of the garage every November to go to her local farmer and harvest collards. She cuts the heart out of the giant heads because it is the sweetest and most tender part of the plant. At the grocery store, we don’t have that luxury so we just have to hope for a head. I go to a farmer’s market or a grocery store out in the country to find a head because city stores rarely have collards and if they do it is a bunch of tough outer leaves tied together with a rubber band. Who do they think we are, collard idiots? Some stores are offering collards that come washed and chopped in a bag like kale. Nice but not perfect. The bag contains the tough stems chopped in with the rest of the leaves. Ugh. Anyway, I prefer sorting through the chopped and washed leaves to remove the stems rather than washing, drying, de-stemming and chopping them myself.
 
Good Fer What Ails Ya

No matter how you buy them, one cup of cooked greens gives your winter-weary body 4g protein, 5g fiber, just 9g carbohydrates, 177mg Omega 3 fatty acids, 309% DV of vitamin A, 58% DV of vitamin C, 1045% DV vitamin K, 44% DV of folate, 27% DV of calcium and 12% DV of iron. Besides folate, collard greens provide 12% DV of vitamin B6 and riboflavin. They even have a little thiamin and niacin making them a natural vitamin B complex. You get ALL that for 49 calories per cup!
 
Try Frozen
 
If you can find a fresh head of collard greens good for you. If not, they are also available frozen. You may have to look at a health food market or country market for them but they are worth it. Aunt Syble’s giant November harvest always ends up in her freezer and those of us who get to eat them are none the wiser. She simmers them in a giant pot with a little Savoy cabbage mixed in. Savoy is the cabbage that looks like regular cabbage only a little curlier. She also puts a dried chili pepper in the pot. I make mine without the traditional hunk of pork fat and they are almost as good! ;-)
 
For the delicious taste and the body-building nutrition, make collard greens a staple in you winter diet if not all year long! Use them to roll up a veggie wrap or try these yummy recipes on a cold winter day.
 
Collard Greens and White Bean Soup
 
1 to 1 1/2 pounds collards, tough ribs removed and chopped (can substitute kale, chard, or other greens)
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
4 cups fat-free vegetable broth
1 teaspoon thyme
2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained (I used Great Northern beans)
2-4 cups water or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground red pepper, to taste
vegan Parmesan (optional)
 
Heat a little water (about 2 tbsp.) in a pressure cooker and add onion. Cook until onion is tender, about five minutes. Put the next 5 ingredients into pressure cooker and seal. Bring to high pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and release pressure manually. (If cooking without a pressure cooker, cook covered in a large pot until collards are tender, about 30 minutes.)
 
Add the beans, 2 cups of water or broth, and the remaining seasonings. Simmer for at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to combine. While cooking, add additional water or broth if the soup seems too dry. Serve topped with vegan parmesan.
 
Makes 6 servings
 
Here is a complete meal centered around collards.

Black-eyed Peas and Collard Greens, New Orleans Style

Black-eyed Peas
Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 ½ - 2 hours
Servings: 6-8

1 white onion, finely diced
5 large garlic cloves, minced
4 stalks of celery, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons powdered thyme
½ - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 – 2 ¼ cups black-eyed peas
6-8 cups vegetable broth
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste

First, sort through the black-eyed peas, making sure you have taken out any peas that are discolored or broken.  Set aside.  Place 1 cup of vegetable broth with the onion, garlic, celery and red bell pepper in a large pot.  Cook over medium high heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Once the vegetables become soft, add the bay leaves, thyme, cayenne and several twists of freshly ground black pepper.  Mix well.  Add black-eyed peas and the rest of the vegetable broth, mixing well.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ - 2 hours with the lid slightly ajar.  Beans will have a creamy consistency.  Serve with rice and collard greens. 

Rice
Preparation Time: 1 minute
Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

2 cups of white Jasmine rice (traditional) or brown Basmati (healthier)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch of green onions, cut finely

If you have a rice cooker: place the rice and broth in the rice cooker and turn it on.  It will work its own magic and let you know when it is done.  Stir the rice immediately.  If you do not have a rice cooker, place the rice and broth in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Serve the rice with the green onions on top alongside the black-eyed peas and collard greens.
 
Collard Greens
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Servings: 6-8

2 white onions, chopped
4 bunches collard greens, stripped from stems and cut into large pieces
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or to taste)
2 teaspoons brown sugar (or to taste)

In a large non-stick pan, cook the onions covered over low heat, stirring frequently.  Onions should cook until they are caramelized (very brown and sticky).  Add 2 tablespoons of the apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar.  Mix well.  Add the collard greens, 2 more tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 more teaspoon of brown sugar.  Mix well.  Cook covered for 1 ½ - 2 minutes.  Adjust the flavor of the collard greens if necessary (you do not want them sickly sweet, nor do you want them extremely sour).  The flavor should be a perfect balance of a touch of sweetness, with a hint of sour flavor.  Serve with black-eyed peas and rice.


Enjoy!
Kristi

P.S. Way to go, Nancy and Claire! They both added lentils to their diet. Nancy added them to her favorite minestrone recipe and Claire made taco "meat" and even adapted the recipe to her cupboard by using salsa instead of canned tomatoes! I couldn't be prouder!

Psalm 29:11 (NIV)
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.

 

Once thought of as Kale’s less glamorous cousin, collard greens are finally in style! It isn’t hard to find something wrapped in a collard greens leaf on a gluten free menu these days. The large, sturdy leaves are perfect for a gluten free roasted veggie and bean burrito or as a yummy southern-style side dish.

Collard Greens