According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the South has the highest rates of obesity. This fact makes me both chuckle and shamefully shake my head. The down-home-Southern diet is exceptionally unhealthy. Even healthy vegetables, like collard greens, are traditionally simmered with the fattiest, saltiest cuts of pork like neckbones, bacon or fatback.
Collard greens are rich in Vitamins K, A, and C and contain high levels of fiber, calcium and iron. Collard greens are even cancer-preventative because they contain glucosinolates, which are organic sulfur and nitrogen compounds. These compounds lower our cancer risk because they encourage our body’s natural detox and anti-inflammatory systems. Collards also lower cholesterol better than broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. And what do we Southerners do with this superfood? Boil all the nutrition out and add copious amounts sodium and pig fat.
I offer an alternative to this Southern tradition that is just as tasty. Instead of boiling the collards for hours with pork, substitute smoked turkey and cook for 30 minutes (detailed recipe below). This revision ensures you and your family don’t compromise nutrition in the name of tradition this holiday season. You can enjoy the Southern flavor and maintain a svelte frame for the New Year. We can have it all ya’ll.
Lighten Up: Collard Greens
Smoked turkey leg or wing
16 oz. of collard greens (prewashed and chopped)
1 medium onion
½ tablespoon of garlic powder
½ tablespoon of ground paprika
1 tablespoon of salt
½ tablespoon of pepper
• Submerge collard greens in cold water to ensure they are clean.
• Remove meat from 1 smoked turkey leg and chop into large chunks.
• Roughly chop half of the medium onion.
• Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add chopped smoked turkey and onion.
• Saute until onion begins to soften.
• Add 16 cups (4 quarts) of water to the pot and bring to a boil.
• Once water comes to a boil, add seasoning and greens. The leaves of the collards will wilt before the fibrous stem softens. Cook to desired texture.
• For optimal texture and taste, allow greens to boil for 30 minutes.
• Season to taste and enjoy.