Cooking and sipping collard greens and kale

Collard greens and kale offer tremendous health benefits.

With summer upon us, locally-grown Michigan produce will offer consumers with many options of fresh and healthy food. To assist consumers with selection, use and preservation tips, Michigan State University Extension has prepared several fact sheets on the Michigan Fresh website. Be sure to visit as new fact sheets are periodically posted.

As food selections are made, also keep in mind the USDA ChooseMyPlate campaign and make sure that half of your food plate is made up of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Highlighted in this article are collard greens and kale. These fresh, nutrient dense greens are available at many farmers markets and grocery stores. For raw leafy greens, 2 cups is equivalent to a 1 cup vegetable serving. Additional tips on how to include a variety of vegetables on the food plate can be found at the "Add more vegetables to your day" guide.

Collard Greens and Kale

These leafy greens are hearty and a deep dark green color. Don’t shy away from them because they aren’t as simple to prepare as softer salad greens like romaine. With just a bit of cooking, they will wilt down into a most, tender and flavorful vegetable. Choose collard greens and kale with firm and unwilted leaves that are deep green without signs of yellowing or browning. Collard greens might even have a bluish tint to them but they are easily distinguished from kale because their leaves are smooth. Kale on the other hand has large leaves that are very curly on the edges. The smaller the leaves, the more tender and less bitter they will be. Store these greens in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible for 3-5 days.

It is important to not overcook collard greens or kale, as they tend to give off a sulfur smell and taste bitter. Cut the leaves into one-half inch strips and steam for 5 minutes on the stove. Collard greens make a great addition to eggs and bean soup or can be served alone as a steamed vegetable with a dressing. Serve steamed kale with cooked apples and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and walnuts or chop kale, pine nuts, and feta cheese to mix with pasta and olive oil. Kale and collard greens also make a great addition to vegetable soups and can be wilted down right in the pot of soup.

Collard greens and kale are rich sources of powerful nutrients. They are full of vitamins C and K. They also have the ability to lower cholesterol and can reduce cancer risk as an antioxidant.

Sauteed Greens:


  •  1 Bunch of kale (or other greens such as Collards etc)
  •  2 Cloves of garlic
  •  1 Small onion
  •  2 T Olive oil
  •  1 t Apple cider vinegar
  •  1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  •  Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Wash greens, set aside (do not dry)
  2. Chop onion and saute in olive oil over medium heat until translucent
  3. Mince garlic, add to onions
  4. Add greens (in batches if needed)
  5. Add pinch of red pepper flakes and salt & pepper
  6. Cover and cook on low-medium for about 10 minutes
  7. Add vinegar, stir well and serve
    **a dash of wine or broth can be added when greens are add

Blueberry Kale Smoothie:

Kale and blueberries are nutrient dense and provide a number of health benefits. Kale does have a taste that will take getting used to, so start out with a few leaves at first and work your way up to 6-8 leaves. Spinach has a milder taste and can be used in place of the kale. Try other fruits like strawberries, pineapple, or oranges to create different flavored smoothies.


  • 1 large ripe banana, peeled
  • 2-4 kale leaves
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 cup of water


  1. Wash greens and blueberries.
  2. Add water, the banana and kale into the blender.
  3. Blend.
  4. Next add the blueberries and blend again until smooth.

 Makes 1-2 servings

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