By CLARENCE GLOVER
Sankofa Garden Homes
Your food is supposed to be your medicine and your medicine is supposed to be your food. – African Proverb
Like many of you, I started the holiday season with Thanksgiving, a table full of food with family and friends. After eating a feast of turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, collard greens, sweet potatoes, pies and cakes, I found myself sitting and relaxing. After eating hundreds of calories, I did the very thing I shouldn’t have done and I am sure I’m not alone. Thousands sat and relaxed, slept, watched football, texted, talked with family and friends. We all did the very thing we shouldn’t have after eating rather than what we should have done.
I would like to invite all of your to join me during the rest of the holiday season in doing something different after eating, that is walking. Eating is like filling your car with gas. Once you fill up you have to drive the car until you need to refuel again. Driving is like walking, we are using food to fuel our bodies. It is the simplest exercise we can do and yet we take it for granted.
A brief walk shortly after eating is a quick way to burn calories and aid digestion. Researchers have found that a post-meal walk, as short as 15 minutes, can help with digestion and improve blood sugar levels.
In the Sept. 26, 2018 Time Magazine health article The Case for Taking a Walk after You Eat, Markham Heid wrote, “At the end of a long day, it tempting to dive into your social feeds or Netflix queue the minute you’ve finished eating. But back before screens bogarted all our free time, an after-dinner stroll was a popular activity and one associated with improved health digestion.”
Loretta DiPietro, a professor of exercise science at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, agreed.
“Italians have been walking after meals for centuries,” she said, “So it must be good.”
The human digestive system converts food into the sugar glucose, which is one of the body’s primary energy sources. So after a meal, glucose floods a person’s bloods stream. Hormones like insulin help pull that glucose into cells, either too be used immediately or stored away for later use.”
Like good and bad gas, there is good and bad food. Bad gas makes our cars run bad. Good gas makes our cars run good. Bad food makes our bodies function badly. Good food makes our bodies function well. Of all of the foods I ate on Thanksgiving Day, the most nutritional one was collard greens. It is the only food that, if cooked properly and eaten, would be an essential fuel our body needs to function properly.
As we prepare for Christmas/Kwanzaa/New Year’s season, we all will have the tendency to eat and snack throughout the day. Many of these foods will be high in calories and poor sources of fuel for our bodies. To offset this temptation, I invite you also to join me in eating more collard greens this holiday season and throughout the year. Collard greens are my choice because of their nutritional value and are easier to clean than turnips that are usually mixed with mustard. I have found that even store bought turnips still have dirt on them. And as my maternal Grandmother would say, “There’s nothing worst than a pot of gritty greens.”
While most of us are used to boiling collard greens with ham hock for hours, which boils the nutrients out of them and has too much salt. I would like to share my recipe for collard greens with you. Remember collard greens are in the cabbage family, so rather than boil them, sauté them. This way the collard greens retain much of their nutritional value.
After washing your (organic) collard greens, heat a black iron skillet and lightly cover with virgin olive oil. By cooking in a black iron skillet you benefit from the iron that is absorbed into the food cooked in it.
Next, cut and sauté purple onion, red bell pepper, and garlic (my trinity) in the skillet with smoked turkey or smoked chicken (optional). After the trinity has caramelized fill the skillet half way with water and with a sprinkling of curry powder. Curry power is essential in reducing inflammation.
Over medium heat add collard greens. Cover and let the steam slowly cooked the collard greens. Be sure to check periodically to insure there is enough water for steam. Do not them let burn. Cook until tender. Season and enjoy.
Don’t forget the hot sauce and pepper sauce. You can cook skinless rosemary chicken and greens in the same skillet.
As African Americans, collard greens have been a part of our diet for centuries, yet often not to our better health. The recipe I’ve shared will change that and help us gain the nutrients from collard greens needed to fuel our bodies. Don’t forget to drink the pot liquor, many nutrients are found there.
Whole Foods recently acknowledged that, one-half cup cooked collards equal:
- As much fiber as one cup of brown rice.
- High in Vitamin A, C, K, folate.
- About as much calcium as 4 oz. of Greek yogurt.
- Low in calories, fat, sugars, sodium.
A Jan. 3 article in Facty Health, titled Health Benefits of Collard, shared 10 benefits of collard greens:
- Detoxify the body
- Provide nutrients
- Prevent cancer
- Strengthen bones
- Support digestion
- Prevent anemia
- Lower cholesterol
- Support hair growth
- Slow down aging
- Improve mood
As we approach the Christmas/Kwanzaa/New Year’s season give yourself and your family and friends the gift of health by eating more collard greens a part of your regular diet. Then take a walk together and get to know each other better. Grow your own collard greens and enjoy the gift of health all year long!
Clarence Glover, known as Professor Freedom of Sankofa Education Services, provides the Sankofa Garden Homes column. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.