By now everyone has heard about the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and with the popularity of sushi lots of us probably view an Asian Diet as a healthy alternative. However, the African Heritage Diet I was raised eating is just as nutritious as its’ more popular peers, one reason being the basis of the plant based diet is greens.
My family ate a variety of greens when I was a child – mustard, cabbage, turnip, a green I notice many farmers now discard at Farmers’ Markets, and the most beneficial of all, collards.
With the popularity of veganism, I see a lot of recipes for steamed or raw collards online. Due to the fiber content, unless you’re able to be home all day after eating barely cooked collards, I don’t recommend the practice. Conversely, I see some young chefs suggesting you need 3 to 4 hours for your greens to be right. In actuality, 45 minutes to 1 hour is all you need to make tender, flavorful greens. But in fairness to my young counterparts, the flavors do meld more the longer you cook them.
Either my parents or one of my grandmothers would often say after a meal with greens that the pot liquor, or the liquid the greens cook in, is healthier than the actual leaves. According to a Tulane University historian at The Whitney Plantation, babies were fed pot liquor and little else when their enslaved mothers had to work and were thus unable to breastfeed. If the generations that literally built the nation were weaned on it, my folks were telling the truth.
For carnivores, ham hocks are the best seasoning for collards greens. But since I became a vegetarian in 1984, I have come up with with a delicious alternative that uses organic chicken stock or organic vegetarian chicken stock that is equally satisfying. If you want the traditional Southern experience, top your greens with chopped green onions, which are prebiotics.
2 Bunches Organic Collard Greens
2 Large Organic Garlic Cloves
3 Cups Water
1/4 Cup Organic Safflower Oil
1 Cap full Organic White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (or Lawry’s Season Salt if you don’t like food hot with pepper)
2 Dashes Louisiana or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (really any hot sauce made with vinegar except Tabasco works)
3 Dashes Colgin Liquid Smoke
1 Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon Organic Chicken Stock or Vegetarian Chicken Stock (find in bulk section of health food stores)
Wash greens thoroughly and chop if desired, set aside. Bring the water to a boil and add all the seasoning. Add the greens and turn the heat down to low, stirring periodically. Garnish with raw green onions.