Janna dePorter is an AmeriCorps/VISTA Member doing a year of service with Solid Ground’s Cooking Matters program, which provides classes on nutrition, healthy cooking and food budgeting for people at risk of hunger and malnutrition. This post is adapted from the Cooking Matters Seattle blog.

Fresh kale

Fresh kale

Greens! In one of my Cooking Matters classes, we introduced kale to women who had never seen or heard of it before, but after tasting sautéed kale with garlic, red pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar, they were sold. Many people have seen greens and heard about how fantastic they are nutritionally, but do not know what to do with them. My aunt loves to send me yummy recipes she has seen in the newspaper and tried out. Last week she sent me Swiss Chard and Chickpea Minestrone from Margaret Shulman’s Recipes for Health from the New York Times. It looks so beautiful with all of the colors and textures it features.

Not only are greens beautiful, but they also provide lots of vitamins and minerals. In her New York Times article,  A Versatile Vegetable for a Chilly Spring, Margaret Shulman says, “It’s the most versatile of greens, and an excellent source of calcium and potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-carotene.” She also provides a great tip on how to preserve the nutrients in greens when cooking: “Some of you have asked why I blanch greens before using them in dishes. I find it’s the most efficient way to wilt them quickly and evenly, and they aren’t boiled so long — just a minute or two — that the nutrients are depleted.”

You can make this simple side dish to incorporate more greens into your meals:

Sautéed collard greens

Brazilian-Style Sautéed Greens

By Chef Jessica Grosman, Boston, MA
Serves 4, ½ cup per serving


  • 1 pound collard greens
  • 4 medium cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


1. Remove stems from each collard green leaf.
2. Stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly into a tube-shaped bundle of leaves. Make multiple stacks if there are too many leaves to roll into one bundle.
3. Use a sharp knife to slice the bundles into ¼-inch wide strips.
4. Place all cut greens in a large bowl and fill with cold water, allowing any dirt to settle to the bottom of the bowl. If greens are very dirty, repeat this step.
5. Peel and mince garlic.
6. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add canola oil.
7. Lift greens out of the bowl, shaking off any excess water and place in hot skillet. Use caution as the oil might splatter when the damp greens are placed in the hot pan. If the greens can’t all fit in the pan at once, cook in two batches.
8. Stir the greens to cook evenly, about 1-2 minutes.
9. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic. Sauté until all greens are fully cooked, about 5-7 minutes, and any excess water has evaporated. If garlic starts to brown or burn, reduce heat to medium low until greens are fully cooked.
10. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Chef’s note: Try chard, kale or any other leafy greens instead of collards.

Cooking Matters: Calcium

Editor’s note: Cooking Matters will regularly bring the nutritional expertise of Solid Ground’s Cooking Matters program to our blog. We hope you enjoy their tips and recipes!

Collard greens, a great source of calcium!

I hope everyone enjoyed the fantastic Northwest weekend! I took a few great walks, including a trip to the local farmers market. I’m really excited about the upcoming produce season!

One of the great benefits of the abundance of greens we have in the Northwest is that many of them are packed with calcium. Many folks are lactose intolerant, and even people who can safely consume dairy often wonder how in the world they are going to take in enough dairy products to get their calcium.

No fear, there are options! One option is to use dairy substitutes such as soy milk instead of cow milk, because calcium is added to the soy milk so that it has the same amount as regular milk. But there are plenty of other options for getting the calcium needed for building and maintaining bones. Many plant products are actually quite good sources as are some animal products (like canned salmon, yum!).

Here are some nondairy sources of calcium:

  • Collard greens, 1 cup (357 mg)
  • Spinach, 1 cup (291 mg)
  • Soy beans, 1 cup (261 mg)
  • Canned salmon with bones, 3 oz (181 mg)
  • Calcium-set tofu, 3 oz (163 mg)
  • Oranges, 1 cup (72 mg)
  • Almonds, 1 oz (70 mg)
  • Fortified cereals (varies)

You can find more information and other sources here:

Adults should get between 1,000-1,300 mg of calcium a day, based on their sex and age. It’s important to incorporate calcium-rich foods into your diet to maintain bone health. See below for a Cooking Matters Recipe that’s a good (nondairy) source of calcium!

Pasta with Lima Beans and Collard Greens

By Chef Carole Wagner Greenwood in Washington, DC

Serves 12, 1 cup per serving


1 – 13 oz package whole wheat pasta
1 – medium carrot
2 – cloves garlic
2 – medium onions
2 pounds (1 bunch) – collard greens
2 tablespoons – canola oil
½ cup – water
1 teaspoon – dried oregano
1 teaspoon – dried red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon – ground black pepper
3 – 15.5 oz cans lima beans

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

2. While pasta is cooking, peel, rinse and dice carrot and onions. Peel and mince garlic.

3. Rinse collard greens – more than once if necessary to remove all grit, remove tough stems and chop coarsely.

4. Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and sauté garlic, carrot, onion and greens until onions are soft.

5. Add water and spices, and cook until greens are tender.

6. Drain and rinse beans in colander. Add beans to the greens. If needed, add a little more water to make a sauce.

7. Toss greens and beans with cooked pasta and cook for 5 more minutes or until pasta is heated through.

Contains 150 mg Calcium per serving.

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