by Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE

Collards and black-eyed peas are traditional New Year’s Day food in the South because they are believed to bring prosperity in the New Year. Not only are these foods tasty and inexpensive, they can be very healthy. I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year!

Cost: each serving of greens is about $0.70 and the black-eyed peas are $0.13 per serving.   

Nutrition:  Greens are a beneficial powerhouse. They are packed with vitamin A, fiber, folic acid and calcium. And they contain many phytonutrients. Beans are also packed with fiber— the soluble kind that helps to lower cholesterol.

To keep these foods healthy, reduce the fat and sodium in the cooking process (traditional New Year fare can be quite high in sodium). Use dry beans, fresh or frozen greens and flavor with reduced-sodium chicken broth and salt-free seasoning. Limit fat and fatty meats by flavoring these southern favorites with lean ham or Canadian bacon.  If you end up incorporating fatty meats for your New Year meal (such as bacon in the sugar-cured greens), remember the key to heart-healthy flavor is sticking to the mantra of “a little goes a long way”.

Other good eating habits to continue in 2020:

• Eat plenty of produce and whole grains. Fill 2/3 of your plate with produce/whole grain foods, and finish off the remaining 1/3 with fish or lean meat.

• Practice portion control: Set your fork down at the first sign of feeling full.

• Eat a variety of unprocessed, fresh foods. Choose whole foods. Indulge in salads. If you have to use convenience foods, try freshly frozen ones that have been minimally processed.

Until next time: eat well, live well.



Sugar-Cured Greens

This recipe will turn you into a mean, green eating machine. The cooking method keeps the greens green and the flavor is tough to beat. Enjoy.

1 pound collards, cut and cleaned

2 slices bacon (lower fat, center cut)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Nonstick cooking spray

1 small, sweet onion chopped (about 1 cup)

The first step to delicious greens is to blanch them. Bring a large pot (Dutch oven) of salted (1 teaspoon salt) water to a boil. Add greens and boil for 1 minute. Remove the greens with tongs or a slotted spoon and immediately place in a large bowl of ice water. Allow them to sit for 1-2 minutes. This retains their bright green color and helps to decrease any bitter flavor.

In a nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray, coat bacon with sugar and cook over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from the pan and allow to cool. Meanwhile, remove greens from the ice bath squeezing out any excess water and placing them in a colander to continue draining. Pour bacon drippings out of the pan and add back 2 teaspoons. Over medium heat, add onions to the pan and cook until translucent (1-2 minutes).  Add drained greens and toss to coat, heating throughout (2-3 minutes).  The greens should still be bright green.

Crumble the bacon and use it to top the greens when serving.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size 1 cup)

Nutrition Breakdown: Calories 100, Fat 4g (1.5g saturated fat), Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 161mg, Carbohydrate 14g, Fiber 5g, Protein 4g

Diabetes Exchange Values: 2 Vegetables, 1 Fat

Kim’s Note: Once blanched, the greens will hold up to 2 days and can be cooked in a flash when needed.


Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at To search for specific recipes go to You can also watch the segments at


This article appears in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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