In the world of dark leafy greens kale and spinach seem to always get the most popular award. But this week I want to encourage you to step out of your dark-leafy green box and pick a new variety because trust me there are so many other options...like my personal favorite, collard greens!
Collards are probably my favorite dark leafy green because they are so versatile. You can use them as a big wrap (like I did here), mix them into a soup or chile, or sauté them with other veggies like onion for a delicious side.
While the bitter taste can take a little getting used to, there are many ways to counter it when preparing meals with collard greens, and the bitter flavor actually can be very helpful in encouraging digestion and liver detoxification so eat up!
health benefits of collard greens
Like many dark leafy green vegetables, collard greens are loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate all of which are necessary for a healthy and well-functioning body.
- Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that also is found to act as a powerful antioxidant in the body by acting as a protective agent against free-radicals. Vitamin A is also responsible for healthy vision, skin, and neurological function.
- Vitamin C many people know that vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and helpful in supporting immune health, but what most people don't know is that it also is necessary for the production of collagen. Since collagen is abundant throughout your entire body, but especially in your skin, if you want to support your skin health it's best to make sure you are consuming enough vitamin C rich foods. Vitamin C also increases the absorption potential of non-heme iron foods when consumed together, which makes it important especially for those following a vegan/vegetarian diet. 
- Vitamin K is probably one of the less thought of vitamins, but it doesn't make it any less important. Vitamin K is responsible for blood clotting in the body, which is why people who are required to be on blood thinning medications need to be cautious about their dark leafy green consumption.
- Folate is especially important for women who are thinking about getting pregnant as it plays a critical roll in the formulation of the neural tube in fetuses, and can be protective against miscarriages. Folate also plays an important role in heart health, and while most people consume folate in the synthetic form folic acid, it is best absorbed by the body in its natural form, which luckily can be found in abundance in many dark leafy greens. 
In addition to their many nutrient related health benefits, collard greens also help support a well-functioning digestive system due to their bitter taste.
Bitter greens have been used traditionally to help encourage digestion by stimulating the taste buds, which in turn encourages enzyme production and the release of bile from the liver, which all together help support good digestion. Leafy greens like collards are also high in fiber, which helps promote a functioning (and moving) GI tract,
However, collard greens can be difficult to digest for some people because of how fibrous they are, especially those who already have a compromised GI tract. So for these people I would recommend consuming your collard greens well cooked in soups/stews, where the fibrous content will be more broken down and easier to digest.
Now onto my favorite way to eat collard greens, which is in a wrap. Since collard greens can be quite bitter (remember this is a good thing!) I like to balance the bitter flavor with other strong flavored foods. My favorite is to counter the bitterness with something like pesto, that has a very strong flavor of its own, and balances out the bitterness of the collard greens.
caprese collard wraps
- 2 large collard greens
- 3-4 oz fresh buffalo mozzarella (ideally local/organic)
- 1/2 avocado
- 3 tablespoons homemade pesto
- 1 vine tomato
- Wash collard greens well, and remove the thick portion of the stem at the bottom of the green leaf.
- Next, spread the pesto evenly over the collard leaves.
- Slice the tomato, avocado, and mozzarella into thin slices, and place on one half of the collard leaves, leaving room on either side to fold the wrap.
- Next, fold the sides of the wrap in, and from the bottom (closest to where your ingredients are placed) roll the collard leaf into a wrap.
- If necessary, pin the wrap together using a toothpick.
- Slice each rolled leaf in half and enjoy.