Food For Thought: Collard Greens

collard greens

What comes to mind when someone mentions collard greens? Do you conjure up images of a bunch of greens boiled to death with loads of bacon and onion? Once thought of as “soul food,” collard greens have stepped out into the spotlight and they are definitely A-list performers.

This dark green vegetable definitely has soul…and much more! Naturally dense in nutrients including Vitamin A, K, C, foliate, calcium and fiber, these powerful leafy greens have many health benefits for you including:

  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Powerful antioxidants that offer protective properties against cancer
  • Digestive support offering cleansing and detoxifying qualities
  • Extra anti-inflammatory health benefits
  • Heart and lung support
  • Bone health
  • Helps increase the immune system function

To get these body boosting benefits, eat collards at least 2-3 times per week. Follow these easy tips to choosing the best collards and creating nutrient- packed meals and snacks.

Collard GreensWhere Do You Find Collard Greens?

You can find collards at your local grocer in the produce section. They are most plentiful between October and May. Collards are usually packed in bunches and come with anywhere from 6-10 leaves. Pick collards that are a deep, vibrant green with firm, unwilted leaves and no signs of yellowing or browning. Remember to buy organic in order to decrease your over-all toxin load.

How Do I Store Collard Greens?

Store in your fridge for up to 3-5 days in a plastic bag. Greens that are still attached to their roots will keep better than cut greens. Wait to wash greens until you’re ready to use them, as washing causes them to break down more quickly. To store greens, wrap the unwashed greens in a dampened paper towel, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate.

For easy access, keep greens front and center in your fridge so you know what needs to be used and what you can lose. Don’t let them create a science experiment in the crisper.

Greens are best used while they are still fresh and at the peak of flavor…usually a few days of purchase. Before using or cooking, let sit for five minutes, then wash gently and sprinkle lemon juice to activate health promoting enzymes for digestion.

How Do I Use Collard Greens?

So how are you going to get these collard greens in your diet 2-3 times per week? These greens can be enjoyed in multiple ways and meals! One of the best ways to concentrate all of the health promoting benefits is to steam collard greens. Don’t discard those super-nutritious stems. To help collard greens cook more quickly, evenly slice the leaves into 1/2-inch slices and the stems into 1/4-inch pieces. Let steam for 5 minutes and enjoy! Tender, delicate leaves cook more quickly than large, coarse leaves and raw greens cook down to a fourth of their volume – so get lots of them. To bring out the taste even more, drizzle with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.

Because collard greens have a large sturdy, slightly ruffled leaf, they are perfect to use as a wrap or a sandwich. What I love about using collard greens as wraps is that they are a great alternative to a tortilla or bread. They work well for individuals who adhere to gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and/or corn-free lifestyles. Additionally, this is a great way to get extra greens into your diet! Wrap up your favorites and bring it with you on the go as a snack or have as a meal!

Try re-creating old favorites by wrapping up turkey, chicken, bacon or hummus. Sprinkle in your morning smoothies with blueberries and a banana. Toss it in your omelet or scrambled eggs or just enjoy by sautéing or steaming just as you would kale or spinach! Try my Collard Green BLT recipe

BLT Wrap

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Food For Thought: Collard Greens

Ingredients

  • 10-12 slices of bacon or your choice of protein
  • 6-8 collard green leaves
  • 2-3 slices of tomato
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or Vegenaise
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup greens (lettuce, arugula, spinach)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Prepare bacon or other protein source.
  2. Wash collard green stalks, with a knife, make a slit one inch above the top of stem and trim the rest of the stem off.
  3. For the aioli: Mix mayo, lemon juice, salt & garlic.
  4. Spread aioli over collard green, add bacon, tomatoes and extra greens.
  5. Tuck in sides, roll up, cut in half and enjoy.

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Photo credit Glory Foods and Tim Sackton