Are Collards the New Kale?

It seems that 2014 food trends are indicating a new king in the world of greens. Apparently, kale is out and collards are in. I'm a native New Yorker, only southern by choice and experience. And honestly, collard greens intimidate me. This trend makes me long for the days when it was ok to just add spinach to everything. But the foodie in me was reminded that a) I love all things green, and b) I love trying new recipes.

When I picture collard greens, I often think of the slow-cooked Southern side dish that is simmered in ham hock, with lots of fat and salt. It reminds me of buffets, BBQ joints, and nursing homes. Not super healthy, and it looks something like this:

Guys? That is not the look of delicious. 

But the nutritional benefits! Collards have an abundance of vitamins A, B, C and K. They also have lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that can protect your eyes as you age. Want more? One cup (chopped and steamed) contains about 25% of daily calcium needs, 10% of iron needs (pre-menopausal women), and 5g of protein - all for just 60 calories.

And then I saw this picture:

That is a fresh and inspiring picture. Mouthwatering, even.

But wait, aren't leafy greens a winter vegetable? Why are we talking about them now? Well, it's true, most of think of hearty greens as a winter or spring veggie. In Texas, their peak season is January through April.  This is what makes them so perfect for adding to soups and stews. And many recipes you will find will be best suited for those cold weather days.

However, warmer weather means smoothies, wraps and salads! And collards are a great option in each of these foods, as well.

Collards make a great substitute for a tortilla in a wrap. They are thick enough to not rip as you fill them up. Which means that the dressing will be less likely to drip down your arm as you eat. Winning!

Or you can try this great recipe for a Cobb Salad that combines crisp romaine with the collards for a twist on a classic. Like kale, collard greens will hold up well in a pre-tossed salad. What a great picnic-friendly option.

If you're feeling really brave, you can add collard greens to a smoothie. But make sure that you only use the leaves, because the stems will be too bitter. Also, if you give them a quick steam or blanch them, the flavor will be a little milder. Make a big batch and freeze, which makes adding to a smoothie even nicer.

What about you? How have you enjoyed collard greens?


Katie Goldberg

Katie Goldberg, MCN, RDN, LDN, has been a registered dietitian since 2013, but has always had a passion for good food and a healthy lifestyle. Katie earned her Master’s of Clinical Nutrition from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and has worked in private practice, higher education, in a clinical setting, and as an in-house dietitian for a food company. Whether it's at through large groups or one-on-one, Katie enjoys connecting people with easy and practical solutions for better health.