VEGGIES A – Z: C for COLLARDS
Why is it that so many of us get stuck in a veggie rut, especially when it comes to the leafy greens? There is more to life than spinach…and even than my beloved kale! Enter the collard green. Often used in Southern-style cooking, collard greens are similar in nutrition to kale, but they have a heartier and chewier texture and a stronger cabbage-like taste (1). Also popular with the raw food movement because the wide leaves are used as a wrap instead of tortillas or bread, they fit in nicely in many a Paleo-inspired meal, too. One cup of steamed collard greens contains 63 calories, 5 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrate (including 8 grams of fiber and 1 gram of sugar), over 250% of your daily needs for vitamin A, over 50% of your daily needs for vitamin C, 26% of calcium needs, 12% of iron and 10% of both vitamin B-6 and magnesium. Collard greens are an extremely rich source of vitamin K and also contain folate, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, choline, phosphorus and potassium (2). Native to the Mediterranean region and Asian Minor, it is thought that around about 400 B.C. Collards were brought over to the Britain and France regions. They were first documented in the Americas in the 1600’s, although it’s entirely possible that they existed before European settlers arrived (3). They are super easy to grow, too; as I found out with the help of my gardening teacher, who’s helped me plant them in my raised beds. Even though collard greens are more heat tolerant than other cabbage relatives, they taste better after chilly weather arrives as bit of frost makes the leaves taste sweeter. The plants prefer full sun, though they can tolerate a bit of daily shade (4). And now for the fun part: how to best enjoy them! RAW Wrap whole leaves them around your favorite wild fish, sliced fresh ginger and an avocado; my interpretation of a 100% natural hand-roll, sushi style…sans the typical fillers. Shred the leaves, then toss with olive oil, garlic and freshly ground black pepper and top with a few slices of grass-fed filet, tartare style! SAUTEED You can’t go wrong with any veggie sautéed in either coconut oil or animal fat (try rendered duck fat) along with shallots and garlic STEAMED Simple? Yes. Boring? OK, maybe, but if you’re in a time crunch, a three-minute preparation can be the difference between making a balanced meal to go out of steamed greens, a couple of soft boiled eggs, mashed with avocado versus stopping in the gas station later on when you’re starving and ending up with a packaged ‘energy’ bar. SLOW COOK Southern Style in a crock pot with some uncured bacon or bones from a pasture-raised pig; don’t forget- animal fat, if properly sourced, is good for you! By incorporating a new-to-you veggie into the regime, you’ll expand your family’s palate and lessen the chance of overdoing any single veggie. Who wants to get into a veggie rut when we have so many great options to choose from?