Quick & Easy Leafy Greens for Christmas & Beyond!

collards2Welcome to winter!

What’s cookin’ in your kitchen for the holidays? After preparing a big Thanksgiving dinner, I am just preparing desserts to bring to a relative’s house this Christmas.

It occurred to me that the food conversation often centers around protein, carbs, and sugars during the holidays, but vegetables are an afterthought.

Why is that? I mean, Christmas is all about the colors, and what better way to add color to a holiday table than to dish up lots of veggies? And what better way to prevent colds and the flu than by eating plenty of antioxidants?

Just think – if you green up your plate for the holiday, then it could very well spark a whole new, clean/green way of eating for you in 2016! And you won’t have as much room for all of those desserts.

I’ll be honest. I used to think that serving broccoli, spinach, and salad once a week (each) was enough green to eat. But recently, I’ve been experimenting with more and more leafy greens. As you’ve probably heard over and over again, the deeper the color, the more phytonutrients they contain.

So, ditch the iceberg lettuce and go for the romaine, arugula, or red leaf. Then add plenty of colorful vegetables to it, like tomatoes, red peppers, watermelon radishes, carrots, red onion, etc… Raw foods contain important digestive enzymes, so including salad with your meal is an easy to green up your lifestyle in a big way. And a colorful salad is so pretty on any holiday table.

During the winter, though, cold salads are less appealing, and we tend to eat more cooked foods, which are easier to digest, anyway. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss Chard, and collard greens actually are better for you when steamed, since they contain compounds, called goitrogens, that could negatively impact your thyroid health, unless they are cooked out a bit. Lightly steaming them will do the trick, but it’s also a good idea to rotate the ones you eat.

I have to admit, for a long time, I thought it would be too much work to make any leafy green, except spinach, taste good. My whole family likes it steamed, but it’s even better when sautéed in garlic and oil! And you know what, pretty much any leafy green, no matter how bitter, tastes good that way too. Somehow, the garlic offsets the bitterness.

So this Christmas, and throughout the coming year, why not green up your life a bit? Sometimes, the best thing we can do to “go green” is to actually eat green. And it doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming to do so.

I’ll show you how! Here’s my quick and easy way to prepare broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, bok choy, dandelion greens, or cauliflower (which is a green vegetable in disguise). Please note that since collard greens have very large leaves, you can prep them a lot quicker than the other leafy options.

Leafy Greens in Garlic & Oil

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 bunch leafy greens
  • 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 T coconut oil (or macadamia, avocado, or olive oil, if you don't have on hand)
  • 1T extra virgin olive oil
  • Celtic Sea Salt, to taste
  • optional: steamer, medium sized pot with cover
  • essential: water (for cleaning and steaming), frying pan, cutting board and sharp knife


  1. Fill bottom of pot with water and put on medium high heat (optional step - for faster method, read through instructions for alternative).
  2. One leaf at a time, remove spines (stems). Rinse under running water, OR place them all in a bowl of cold water, swish around, drain and repeat.
  3. Slice bunches of them into 1 inch strips and place in pot. Once they are all in there, cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Greens should be crisp and bright green still. (If you are in a rush, you may steam in the frying pan instead - see next step).
  4. Melt coconut oil in frying pan (I'm using a Le Creuset cast iron one here, which I love). Add olive oil and garlic. Saute garlic for 1 to 2 minutes, so the flavor is absorbed. If you haven't steamed greens, then add a 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or chicken broth before adding vegetables).
  5. Add leafy greens, and continue to saute for 2 to 5 minutes (8 to 12 minutes, if not steamed in separate pot), being careful not to overcook (should retain bright green color - NOT dark or olive green!
  6. When greens look evenly cooked, add salt to taste, and serve.

Food for thought:

Choose organic, whenever possible. Spinach, kale, and collard greens on on EWG's Dirty Dozen list of most pesticide laden vegetables.


How does that sound? Easy enough for you?

If you’re making this for your holiday meal, you can always break off the leaf spines and chop (before rinsing) ahead of time. That will make it even quicker to prepare on that day. You can also chop the garlic ahead of time, and mix it with the olive oil, until you are ready to cook.

Or, if you like bacon (which is always delicious with roasted vegetables, especially brussels sprouts), and have more space in your oven than you will on your stove, then you might prefer this recipe for Bacon Braised Collard Greens. I’m looking forward to trying that one at some point!

juliafreshThe key to any successful kitchen experiment is planning ahead. If you find a few simple recipes, and get your ingredients ahead of time, it’s a lot more likely that you will prepare healthy food. The fresher, the better (and easier, too).

Take it from someone who used to think sautéing vegetables was just too much of a drag, once you focus on the simplicity of the process, it’s a lot more fun.

And food prep should always be fun! So grab some helpers and get in there! Make some memories.

After all, what would a holiday be without really great food? And a few of our favorite, most helpful, family members and friends.

Have a very Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and a happy New Year!

Peace, joy, & sunshine to you, always,


About Dawn

As a Certified Health Coach, I provide motivated individuals with the resources, tools, support and encouragement they need to make the gradual changes in food and lifestyle that could completely transform their lives. Contact me.
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