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.


My Plate

Choose My Plate is the new Food Pyramid

Something exciting happened a few weeks ago. The USDA came out with a new food guide called My Plate. It’s great because it gives a good idea of how your plate should be divided up by the different food groups. I like that it’s so much easier to teach! A plate really makes sense to people, and I think it’s a really great model for how we should eat – especially with half of our plate filled with fruits and veggies. You can learn more at the USDA’s It’s a fun website to poke around to learn about the different food groups and the nutrients they provide. There are also some resources for estimating how many calories a person needs and how many calories are in certain foods. So check it out and have fun!

%d bloggers like this: