Turkey and dressing (or “stuffing”; however you roll) are the usual star eats of a Thanksgiving feast. But greens, especially collards, if on the menu (and they should be) are by far the most valuable.
Yes, the southern soul food staple is a super food. It’s loaded with vitamins and nutrients.
Greens also contain a fair amount of protein. And their protein accounts for 20 percent of the calories in collard greens, according medicalnewstoday.com.
They are also an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C and K. Plus, they’re packed with iron and and calcium.
As such, they reduce the risk of heart failure, diabetes and some cancers.
Some people write soul food off as an unhealthy cuisine, but if prepared properly it doesn’t have to be. Even if cooked for hours, greens retain most of their nutrients because of the pot liquor (also known as “pot likker”) produced while boiling.
They can also be prepared without the traditional ham hocks or other pork. Turkey, chicken or no meat at all can be used.
In fact, today, many vegans and vegetarians who now know it as a super food use the collard green leaf as a gluten-free wrap, and raw in salads.
While there may appear to be some soul food discrimination in many corporate cafes, universities and hospitals controlled by culinary management companies, greens (and other soul food) can hold their own among other cultural fare. They can also be fused well with other cuisines, a trend nowadays.
As with any edible, they’re best when prepared by a good cook (but that’s a whole other story).
“How we cook them now, they’re changing with the times,” master gardener Caroline Washington Moore said.
“They’re versatile, easy to grow and inexpensive,” Washington Moore added.
While greens date back to prehistoric times, it was African slaves who transformed the way in which they’re cooked – as slaves did with similar foods and leftover scraps that were less appealing to colonizers in control.
African slaves, though, aren’t the only people whose food was forced upon them because of circumstances. People around the world, throughout time including the present, may have little choice in what they eat. Poverty, displacement, allergies, natural disasters, imprisonment, climate conditions, war and a host of other situations can dictate what people have to eat.
Transforming foods that others may not want, into power-packed cultural icons people line up to gobble, is a triumph of human ingenuity.
According to sciencedaily.com, Europe’s earliest humans had a balanced diet of meats and plants even though they did not use fire for cooking. However, most people today cook their food and consider themselves healthier for it.
Collard greens are good for you, raw or cooked – and they get better and better the longer they cook. Thankfully, the pot liquor holds the nutrients intact.