Wednesday, January 1, 2014

31 Days of Green: Day 1 Collard Greens

Happy New Year to many folks around the world. To some others we’ll be ringing it in at the end of this month for the lunar New Year! Regardless of when you celebrate, it is a time of new beginnings, new affirmations, new dreams, and goals to accomplish. A lot of people vow to make healthy choices, quit smoking, lose weight, and exercise more. Unfortunately, statistics show that a great percent of these resolvers give up by the lunar New Year. I’m not much for resolutions, it’s too much pressure, and I really am a sore loser. However, we do sit down as a family every year on the winter solstice and talk about our goals for the next year. Some of these are tangible, like ‘save to buy a car’, and some are more… ways of being, like ‘be awesome parents’.  Don’t get me wrong, we make health goals as well, but we try to leave them reachable and humble. It is hard to say “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year” and stick to it, but it is easier to say, “I’m going to make healthy food choices” and do it! So one of the goals or challenges I’ve set up for us is to eat more vegetables. We all ready eat a lot, but I read that our ancestors would consume over 100 varieties of fruit and vegetables throughout the year. I’m not sure I even know that many! So for the month of January I want to share a different green fruit or vegetable with you everyday. Why green? Originally I thought I’d share a different green, as in ‘leafy vegetable,’ but I realized I don’t know/have access to 31 true greens. And besides green is a beautiful color and I think you pretty much can’t go wrong with a naturally green whole food.  So three cheers for celebrating adding health to our diet!

 Of course day 1 is collard greens. It is a common tradition (to which I would love to know the history of) to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens for luck and money, respectively, on New Years day. Since collard greens are loaded with fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, folate, manganese, and calcium (just to name a few), I like to think your eating for luck, money, and health. You can read more about collards nutrition and selection here

We eat collards regularly because they are abundant at the farmers market during the cooler seasons, and we really enjoy the taste. I think a lot of people shy away from collards because they’ve only had them prepared by being boiled or braised in stock with a ham hock. I’ve had some really good collards this way (well a vegetarian version of this way) and it was delicious, but I never have enough time to do it properly. To me the easiest, and tastiest way to cook collards is sautéing. Collard greens are pretty thick so the trick is rolling them up then thinly slicing into ribbon. This way they take less then 10 minutes to cook. It preserves more nutrients and brings out the sweetness. So lets start this year off right!


Sautéed Collards

Gluten free, Vegan
Serves 2

1 bunch of collards
2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
Salt, garlic granules, and pepper to taste
Apple cider vinegar or pepper infused vinegar to taste

Ribbons ready to be cooked

Rinse the leaves and trim off the thick stems around the leaf line (these are great for making stock). Slice the leaves down the mid rib. Roll up handfuls of leaves and make thin slices so that the pieces of the leaves resemble ribbons. Once your collards are ready. Heat up the oil and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes. The leaves should turn a darker but still bright green color and be tender. It may take more or less time depending on the size of your slices and preference. Mix in salt, garlic, and pepper and serve with vinegar to splash on top.

Remove the thick stem by slicing down the inner sides of the leaf
Slice down the mid rib
Roll up leaves (you can do several at a time)

Slice rolled leaves into ribbons

Black Eyed Peas

Gluten free
Serves 2

1 cup dry black eyed peas
Water and apple cider vinegar for soaking
About 4 cups of home-made chicken stock
Salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar to taste

Put the dry beans into a bowl and cover with plenty of water. Add a few tablespoons of ACV and let the beans imbibe for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse. Add the black-eyed peas to a slow cooker and cover with stock to about 1.5 inches above the bean line. Cook on low for 8-12 hours. If you have a lot of stock left after 8 hours you can take the lid off and cook on high to reduce it some. Serve with salt and pepper and a splash of vinegar. You can add other spices if you like, garlic and sage are my favorite. It just depends on the stock you use.

Corn Bread

Though I didn’t have time this year, I also like to make corn bread ‘for love’ on New Years. This is a great gluten and corn free recipe

Notes and Substitutions

Infuse vinegar with peppers and sprinkle generously
  • I’ve never tried it but I imagine you could sauté the collards in butter, ghee or pork fat.
  • You can use vegetable stock to make the beans vegan but I would add a little coconut oil or olive oil to it.

What is your favorite green? Do you have any other New Year traditions? 

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