5 Delicious Ways to Eat Collard Greens

Collard greens were temporarily sidelined when kale took the field, but their versatility has moved them off the bench and in to pinch-hit for a nutrition home run.

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Southern cuisine isn’t known for being healthy (hello, Paula Deen), but when prepared correctly, collard greens are a nutritional jackpot, with tons of vitamins A, C, and K and plenty of antioxidants and flavonoids to guard against disease. Use these smart swaps to green up your diet with collards.

Chicken Hummus Collard Wraps

Collard greens can be tough. Before cooking, trim the bottoms, then use a sharp knife to shave down the tough stem that runs along the spine.

Makes: 4 servings

  • 8 large collard leaves, trimmed and prepped
  • 1 cup hummus
  • 1 lb cooked chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Place 2 collard leaves head to foot (stalks at opposite ends) and partially overlap. Repeat with remaining leaves. Apply hummus down the bottom third of each pair and top with equal amounts of chicken, carrots and peppers. Drizzle with lemon juice. Roll tightly, tucking in the sides as you go. Cut in half to serve.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 319, fat 15 g, carbs 16 g, fiber 3 g, protein 32 g, sodium 452 mg

Nutrition Upgrades

Sub for Spinach in Smoothies

Get in 30 percent more vitamin K to increase metabolism and boost cardiac output, according to research from Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.

  • Blend 1 cup milk, 1⁄2 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup torn collards, 1⁄4 cup fresh mint, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds, 2 teaspoons honey, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, 1⁄2 cup frozen mango and 1⁄2 frozen chopped banana.

Supplant for Spuds in Chips

Augment your vitamin A intake for improved immunity and increased endurance.

  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Add 1 bunch shredded collards to a bowl with 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1⁄2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper and toss to coat. Spread greens on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until crispy.

Swap for Romaine in Caesar Salad

Double your intake of calcium for bones of steel.

  • Whisk together 2 tablespoons each mayo and white wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 chopped anchovy fillets, 1⁄4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and 2 tablespoons oil. Pour over 8 cups chopped collard greens. Add 1⁄2 cup each roasted chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes.

Bump for Basil in Pesto

Triple your consumption of folate, which plays a critical role in muscle cell development.

  • Use a food processor to combine 1 bunch blanched and chopped collards, 1⁄2 cup cashews, ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 chopped garlic cloves, juice of 1⁄2 lemon and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. With machine running, slowly pour in ⅓ cup olive oil. Use on pasta or zoodles.

Trade for Tortillas in Burritos

Level up your vitamin C intake to hold onto your hard-earned muscle.

  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium. Add 1 chopped onion, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, 3⁄4 pound ground pork, 1 sliced bell pepper and 1 teaspoon fajita seasoning; cook until peppers are tender. Mash together 1 large avocado and juice of 1⁄2 lime. Spoon pork and avocado into collard leaves with toppings of choice.