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For being a truly southern lady, it’s shocking how little I’ve eaten Southern-style collard greens in my life. I mostly avoided them because of all of the bacon and butter (not usually my thing.) But recently I was doing some filming with my friend Meg, and she made me her Jammy Collard Greens as apart of this Soul Food Bowl, and I was HOOKED. Her version was vegetarian and sweet and spicy and perfect, so I knew I had to try my hand at something like it. Thus the idea to make Southern Style Dino Kale was born.
I have always had a contentious relationship with kale. My animosity is generally directed at the stems. They’re essentially so hard and thick that they’re inedible. Especially if you buy a bag of pre-chopped kale, 98% of the bag is just stems.*
Jokes aside, my internal anxiety about the state of our planet has grown so I’ve started to make as many small changes as I can to help the planet, and food waste is a big part of it. So when I set out to make this recipe with kale, I knew I had to make peace with the stems and figure out how to include them in the recipe. It was important that I use the WHOLE plant. (Don’t mind me I’m just over here saving the planet.)
So in this recipe, you’ll remove the leaves from the stems, and blanch the stems before adding them to your final pot and cooking them down with the leaves. This may seem like an extraneous step, but YOU HAVE TO BLANCH THEM. They’re too thick to cook at the same rate as the leaves and if you try to skip that step you’ll be left with tough, gross stems.
I also don’t want you to just throw the stems away (not only for the planet), but because they help to add a lot of density to the dish. You’ll be left with so much less food if you leave the stems out! Kale cooks down much faster than collard greens, which is why I chose to use it. But if you leave out the stems you’ll have a fraction of the food, because the leaves cook down so well.
Like, Meg’s recipe, this recipe is also vegetarian. But I wanted to amp up the health factor by switching out the butter with Pompeian’s Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as well as use coconut sugar instead of cane sugar. The spicy tang is brought to you by Pompeian’s Organic Red Wine Vinegar, cajun spice, and red pepper flakes.
I highly recommend serving this with some Healthyish Coconut Oil Cornbread. Just sayin’. xo.
*This is not a proven fact.
Southern Style Dino Kale
Forget collard greens! This Southern Style Dino Kale is a spicy, tangy, sweet, vegetarian version of the old classic that cooks in just 20 minutes.
Remove dino kale stems from leaves. (Refer to photo below for reference.) Tear leaves into pieces and set them aside in a large bowl. Chop the stems into 2" pieces.
Heat a large pot of water of high heat until boiling. Once boiling, add in kale stems. Let boil for 3-4 minutes. Strain, and immediately transfer to an ice bath.
Meanwhile heat Pompeian Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil over medium-low heat in a large pot. Add shallots and minced garlic and sauté for 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes, strain your blanched kale stems and add them to the pot along with Pompeian Organic Red Wine Vinegar, water, coconut sugar, cajun spice, and red pepper flakes. Stir well.
Add in all torn kale leaves to the pot and stir well, making sure all of the leaves get covered in liquid.
Cover pot, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove the lid, stir and serve!
I did not grow up in a home that was environmentally-minded. Even still when I go home my parents have TONS of individual water bottles sitting in the fridge, in the closet, and in the recycling. I am NOT trying to shame my parents, they really did what they thought was best. But I tell you this to say that my knowledge level on sustainable practices was low until recently.
So if you also feel in a panic about the state of our planet with the fires raging in California and the hurricanes devastating the South, but you have no idea where to start – I relate. I relate in a big way. Luckily I’ve had some amazingly educated friends help me out on this journey. So I thought I’d share their wisdom with you, as well as the simple changes I’m committing to. I promise, it’s very possible to make changes that will genuinely help.
The first two resources I want to provide you with are from two of my best blogging friends – Sasha and Renee. They’re two of the people who have helped and inspired me to make changes, and this week they happened to put out their own guides to sustainability.
In my own kitchen and life I’ve started to shift the way I do things. I try not to judge myself (or others) for what I did not know, and instead to get excited for the changes I am making. I am aware that this is going to be a LONG process. I’m still a million miles away from perfection, but these are my current “best practices” when it comes to sustainability. Maybe one of these will work for you right now, or maybe you’re already doing them. Either way, I hope it inspires you rather than shames you. I hope this list makes you feel that change is easier than you might think.
Easy Sustainability “Best Practices” for your Life
- Reuse Your Plastic Bags. If you’re like me or were raised like me, ziplock bags were ubiquitous in the home. They were used for EVERYTHING and there was always a fresh supply of that or plastic wrap. So instead of just flat out quitting that habit, I made a resolution to not *buy* any new plastic bags, and instead to wash and reuse the ones I already have. Once I fully run out of those, I’ve resolved to try not to buy more but instead to transition to something else. For me, the idea of reusing a plastic bag was revolutionary. I legitimately didn’t realize that it’s so simple to wash them and use them again. (That’s how clueless I was.) And that’s why it’s a good place to start.
- Carry a metal straw. If you are a straw person, PLEASE just tuck a metal straw into your car or purse or bookbag. Pull it out when you need it. It’s so incredibly simple and can reduce single use plastic in your life drastically.
- Carry around reusable utensils! I now have a set of bamboo utensils in my bag and I use them ALL THE TIME. I now try to refuse silverware packets if I’m picking up food to-go, or on the airplane, or if I order food for delivery. It’s one of those items that I didn’t realize how much I used plastic silverware until I started refusing it.
- Bring reusable grocery bags with you when you shop. They’re easy to forget, but if we could all make a little bit more effort in our commitment to bring our own bags, the world would be so much happier. It’s such a simple action, so I’ve become much more proactive about it when I can.
- If you’re a coffee drinker, get a travel mug. And don’t be afraid to ask your barista to make your latte in it. This is my favorite travel mug. Just do it. Especially if you buy coffee often.
- Transition from plastic tupperware to glass. This process can be slow. If you don’t have the extra funds for glass tupperware at the moment, I get that. But consider it an investment. I bought mine a year or so ago, and have loved every minute of it. It stores better, travels better, and helps the environment. I call that a win-win.
- Use a dish towel or real napkins instead of paper towels. This one is a hard transition for me. I grew up in a paper towel exploitative home. We used them endlessly and for everything. So it’s hard to turn that instinct off. But I’ve bought some dark microfiber dish cloths, and I try to use those more often than paper towels. And if I’m sitting down to eat a meal, I *try* to use a real napkin. This one is a work in progress for me, but I like to keep it in mind.
- Eat *less* meat. No need to go vegan or anything, but if you could eat 1-3 less meals a week with meat in them the world would cry with joy. Think of it as Meatless Monday, but more often. Maybe to you this means only one of your meals per day has meat in it. Or maybe this means that you don’t eat meat 2-3 days a week. Whatever it means to you, know that meat consumption has HUGE environmental impact. So this choice is powerful.
I hope this list hope this list makes it feel possible to start making environmentally-friendly choices in your life. Know that I’m right there with you, messing it up and trying again every single day. But the more we educate ourselves and the more small changes we make, the bigger our impact is. xo.