Low Fat Vegan Tangy Collard Greens With Mushrooms, Onions and Coconut Milk

by on January 17, 2012

Low Fat Vegan Tangy Collard Greens With Mushrooms, Onions and Coconut Milk

Tangy Collard Greens with Mushrooms, Onions and Coconut Milk

Here is my delicious low fat vegan collard greens recipe!

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This is an easy oil free and super delicious side dish that you can prepare to accompany any meal! A lot of people know of collard greens, but have no idea how to prepare them healthily, or at all. Generally in the southern United States, it is fried or deep fried and this pretty much negates the benefits of eating collards for health, because your body is dealing with all the denatured carcinogenic fats and free radicals from the oil slathered on it.

To get the health benefits of greens they should be prepared simply. Some of them like baby spinach and tender lettuces can be eaten in raw salads. Collards can be used in raw sandwiches (burrito style rolls) or steamed or sautéed gently.

Depending where you live it may be easy or difficult to find collard greens. I’m in Texas right now, and they are abundant, it only costs about 88 cents (USD) for a giant bunch of them! In Canada, I can only get them in Whole Foods and it costs about $2.99 (CAD) per bunch. So we’re loading up on them here!

Collard Greens Lower Cholesterol Better Than Kale or Broccoli!

“In a recent study, steamed collard greens outshined steamed kale, mustard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage in terms of its ability to bind bile acids in the digestive tract. When this bile acid binding takes place, it is easier for the bile acids to be excreted from the body. Since bile acids are made from cholesterol, the net impact of this bile acid binding is a lowering of the body’s cholesterol level. It’s worth noting that steamed collards show much greater bile acid binding ability than raw collards.” Ambrosone CB, Tang L. Cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer prevention: role of nutrigenetics. Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa). 2009 Apr;2(4):298-300. 2009.

Brief History of Collard Greens

Like kale, cauliflower and broccoli, collards are descendents of the wild cabbage, a plant thought to have been consumed as food since prehistoric times and to have originated in Asia Minor. From there it spread into Europe, being introduced by groups of Celtic wanderers around 600 B.C. Collards have been cultivated since the times of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. While collards may have been introduced into the United States before, the first mention of collard greens dates back to the late 17th century. Collards are an integral food in traditional southern American cuisine.

How to Select and Store Collard Greens

Look for collard greens that have firm, unwilted leaves that are vividly deep green in color with no signs of yellowing or browning. Leaves that are smaller in size will be more tender and have a milder flavor. They should be displayed in a chilled section in the refrigerator case to prevent them from wilting and becoming bitter.

Place collard greens in a plastic bag, removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in the refrigerator where they should keep fresh for about three to five days.

Cooking Collard Greens

It is very important not to overcook collard greens. Like other cruciferous vegetables overcooked collard greens will begin to emit the unpleasant sulfur smell associated with overcooking. To help collard greens to cook more quickly, evenly slice the leaves into 1/2-inch slices and the stems into 1/4-inch pieces. You may boil or steam them up to 5 minutes and then season.

For more information on collard greens check out this website http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?dbid=138&tname=foodspice


Oil Free Baked Potato With Tangy Oil Free Collard Greens

Giant baked potato with salsa, hummus and "Tangy Collard Greens"

Low Fat Vegan Tangy Collard Greens with Mushrooms, Onions and Coconut Milk

This collard greens recipe is much lower in fat than traditional collard green recipes that call for frying onions in oil first and then adding the greens. I serve these with giant baked potatoes for a completely filling meal. (Yes, dinner can be this simple and delicious!)

Serves 2


1 large bunch collard greens, washed
1/2-1 cup of sliced mushrooms of choice
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup light unsweetened coconut milk (So Delicious SugarFree Original is excellent for this, don’t use vanilla or sweetened for this recipe)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp herbamare or salt
1 tbsp of lemon juice (or more if desired)
1/2 tsp sugar or sweetener
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
fresh ground pepper to taste


1. Take the stems off of the collard greens by turning them upside down and making a small circle with your pointer finger and thumb and squeezing the leaves down and off from the stem. Like you would straighten a pipe cleaner. Cut the remaining parts of the stem off the top if you miss any bits.

2. Bunch all the collards up together on a cutting board and cut into chunks.

3. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. When boiling, add the collard greens and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain well.

4. In a large non stick skillet, turn to medium heat. When it’s hot add the onions and sauté dry for 5 minutes. (TRUST ME, it will NOT burn if you use a non stick pan, and no oil is necessary!) Add the mushrooms, collards, coconut milk and seasonings except for pepper and sauté for 8-10 minutes until collards are at desired tenderness.

5. Taste test and add fresh ground pepper and any additional seasonings like more lemon if desired.

6. Serve as a side dish with your meal. (I love serving these with baked jacket potatoes, beans, or rice.)


You can also try this recipe with other greens like kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens etc.  If you use baby spinach, DO NOT boil it, you can just wilt it in the pan with the coconut milk in a few minutes. Make sure your onions and mushrooms are cooked first before adding the spinach.

If you don’t want to use coconut milk, feel free to use a low fat almond or soy milk instead. The coconut flavour is very mild in this and not essential to the overall taste.

Try other seasonings as well, add some spices like paprika, chili, cumin etc instead of the dijon and nutritional yeast.  Mix it up!

*If you don’t want to use a non stick pan, you can put the collards, onions and mushrooms into a steamer basket, steam for 5 minutes over boiling water and then drain. Season to taste with the coconut milk and seasonings and stir to combine.

See non stick pans – are there safety concerns http://lowfatcooking.about.com/od/healthandfitness/a/nonstickpans.htm  You should NOT worry about cooking oil free over medium heat in a non stick pan. If nothing is flaking off, or food is not being burned onto the pan on high heat for a few minutes this is not a concern.

Have you ever cooked collard greens before? What do you think of this recipe?

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tonia July 12, 2012 at 7:47 PM

I just happened upon your page, and I am so glad I did! I made this dish tonight, it was terrific! I cannot wait to fix more of your featured recipes!


2 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 12, 2012 at 7:48 PM

I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s a tasty dish for sure. 🙂


3 Mike April 1, 2012 at 8:39 AM

I’ll double–no triple the Mercola comment—don’t listen or buy his overpriced supplements. It’s his way or no way, he has banned people from his site who disagree with him. He as a hard time even acknowleging McDougal, Essylsten, completely disagrees with the china study, etc.–ugh–
I just found this site—am loving it and the recipes. I also love Dr. Mc Dougall’s site,
but Mary’s recipes are too complicated with too many ingredients for me, also not wild about a lot of flavors–but–i am sure if i tasted them they are delicious.
Thank you


4 Tyra March 22, 2012 at 1:39 PM

#5 – Hurry up farmer’s market cause I want to try this recipe. YUM!!


5 Jelle (mostlyraw.eu) March 22, 2012 at 9:46 AM

#4 I cant find Collard Greens here in the Netherlands, I did some research and it some kind of kale (but with different leaves). I think I just have to order some seeds and try growing it myself. I see so much recipes using these things. I am not living in a big city, they may limit my search 🙂 Why do people add salt(NaCL) to cooking water? I also wish there is a printfriendly wordpress button.


6 Veronica March 22, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Salt makes water boil faster and gives a little flavor to bitter vegetables or bland pasta. You can do it if you want. I don’t have any print button on my site yet. It’s a free blog and every modification costs money. Copy and paste the recipes to word and print from there for now. Thanks


7 Maddie January 24, 2012 at 11:54 AM

This was so good I had it 2 nights in a row. Added a bit extra mustard the 2nd time.


8 Courtney January 22, 2012 at 1:27 AM

Hey Veronica,

My husband and I made this tonight. It was wonderful! The flavor was great, even with very little salt. Definitely a keeper and a fantastic way to get collards in! You’re very talented 🙂


9 Veronica January 22, 2012 at 1:54 AM

I’m so glad to hear it! Thanks for letting me know. It’s exciting hearing about people trying my new recipes. 🙂


10 Grace January 18, 2012 at 7:38 PM

Veronica, I also love your DVDs !!!! The corn chip are really, really good. Wondering what kind of vanilla you use, (non alcohol) do you use straight vanilla beans? I’m looking for something to put in with cold bananas. Thank you.


11 Veronica January 19, 2012 at 6:21 AM

I used to use vegetable glycerin based vanilla from the health food store. It’s like a syrup consistency and alcohol free. It now I use my own. We imported Tahitian vanilla from French Polynesia and I made my own with vegable glycerin food grade style and whole vanilla beans and left it for a few months. We will be selling the whole vanilla beans in our store sometime soon. Working on it. Because they are soft and easy to open and scrape out the vanilla they are great for raw food recipes too and much larger. I don’t use the little shriveled hard vanilla beans from the store because it’s a little difficult.


12 Tracey January 18, 2012 at 4:30 AM

Hi Veronica,
This recipe looks good, but I can honestly say I have never eaten collards. I guess it’s never to late. What part of Texas are you in? I live in the central part.


13 Veronica January 18, 2012 at 4:54 AM

It’s never too late! I recommend only eating them raw as a roll up sandwich (they are sturdy) or steaming or sautéing and seasoning. You should try this recipe as an introduction because it’s quite flavourful and will remind you of eating tender greens like spinach.


14 Erica January 17, 2012 at 10:14 PM

Good point about the pieces of iron flaking off. Thanks for taking time to reply. I recently got your raw food cooking demo DVDs and have been enjoying them!


15 Veronica January 18, 2012 at 3:46 AM

Iron itself is not a bad thing, but iron skillets were used a long time ago when people saved their bacon fat to cook everything in, and they probably didn’t have access to enough greens to get iron, so having some iron come off in their food could have helped stave deficiencies. But when you’re eating a plant based diet, iron is generally not a problem. I just wouldn’t want to get an overdose of any kind of metal in my food regularly, like from food cooked in aluminum foil all the time, or in a cast iron pan.

So glad you got Savory Raw Recipes. Thanks for letting me know you like them. That makes my day


16 Erica January 17, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Thanks Veronica. I was thinking about the things Dr. Mercola has to say:
I wonder what kind of pan I could use instead of a non-stick pan. (I don’t even own any) Maybe an iron skillet? (not sure if that is a much better option) Is a non-stick skillet essential in this recipe in order to cook the onions? Could we just put some of the coconut milk in the skillet along with the onions?


17 Sri January 17, 2012 at 10:01 PM


I use a ceramic pan.
it’s soooooo wonderful! Expensive, but absolutely easy to cook with (nothing sticks !!), easy to wash.
I’m hooked.


18 Veronica January 17, 2012 at 10:04 PM

Cool. I’ll look into that when I need another pan! My apartment cupboards are crammed right now with so many food preparing items and gadgets lol


19 Erica January 17, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Sri, I would love to know what kind of ceramic pan you have found works well.


20 Jean January 18, 2012 at 3:30 PM

What kind of ceramic pan do you use?


21 Veronica January 17, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Hi Erica,

I do NOT listen to “Dr” Mercola. He basically writes articles to scare people half to death and confuse them about what they should actually worry about. He scares people off of eating a low fat vegan diet, and he pushes his own supplements and products like they are absolutely necessary.

He is a staunch promoter of a Weston A. Price meat and dairy based diet when he is not even conducting any of his own studies like Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, or Dr. T Colin Campbell all who promote an oil free vegan diet for health. Dr. Mercola is an Osteopath, which is like an alternative health doctor. So it very surprising he is adamant that meat, dairy and eggs are mandatory for a healthy diet.

Dr. Mcdougall and his wife recommend their patients and family to use non stick skillets all the time, without fear of toxins “leeching” into the food. It’s not cooked in oil, it’s certainly not going to come off of the pan when cooked over medium heat over the stove.

And Iron skillet?? I would worry about that more! You have iron pieces flaking off onto your food, and you need to use oil on it to prevent food from sticking.
In the post I listed directions for if you don’t want to use a non stick pan. You can steam everything and then just toss with the coconut milk if desired. Or like you said you could just “boil” everything in a skillet or pot of choice with the onions, mushrooms and partly pre boiled collards and season. The onions will be much milder this way, but should still taste fine.


22 Joanna January 17, 2012 at 8:59 PM

Sounds wonderful…

Wish there was a printer-friendly link though.. instead of getting everything else on the page (all the side links, comments, etc)


23 Veronica January 17, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Hi Joanna,

My site is brand new, I don’t have any software installed to make stuff printer friendly. (Costs extra) You can always just copy and paste the recipe portion and print it out from a Word Document or a Rich text Editor. That’s what I do with online recipes.


24 Erica January 17, 2012 at 8:18 PM

I have a question about using a non-stick skillet. I thought that all the non-stick surfaces were coated in stuff that we should avoid cooking on. Would be interested in hearing from you about this.


25 Veronica January 17, 2012 at 8:56 PM

Hi Erica,

I don’t think there is anything to worry about this. For one we are not using oil, oil can become denatured at high heat and absorb flavour along with chemicals. Secondly, you should only be worried if you use a pan a lot that is old and the black stuff starts coming off. This was more a problem of initial non stick coatings that didn’t stay on well. The wok I use is a good quality one ($25-$30) and is very hardy. Thirdly I don’t burn the food onto the pan, leave it on high heat to burn the non stick surface, nor do I cook every single thing over the stove in a non stick pan. Lots of things I bake in the oven, or do in a pressure cooker with water, steam in boiling water or use a slow cooker. I really see no reason to worry about this.

For more information check out this article as well http://lowfatcooking.about.com/od/healthandfitness/a/nonstickpans.htm


26 anonymous January 17, 2012 at 7:41 PM



27 ann January 17, 2012 at 8:12 PM

This looks really tasty. Don’t usually like to cook with coconut milk, but this looks worth it! Many Thanks:)


28 Veronica January 17, 2012 at 8:56 PM

You can definitely use low fat almond or soy milk if you want as well. I like using coconut milk once in a while because it is a delicious base for curry or in this case a sauce.


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