Side Orders: Bacon, beer add savory goodness to greens

Turnip greens are one of those vegetables that, in my opinion, requires a more sophisticated palate than that found in a child. To discover all the subtle nuances of flavors that go into a good batch of greens, you'll want some add-ins. Bacon, onions and vinegar can change the flavor from bitter greens to amazing Southern side dish.

It wasn't until I was well into adulthood that I began to like greens. I had always liked spinach, but spinach tastes totally different from turnip greens, kale greens and dandelion greens. My parents loved them, but whenever my mother made them, I would leave the house. I didn't even like the smell of greens cooking on the stove.

All that changed somewhere in my 30s, and I am so glad it did because greens are so incredibly healthful. They're good for your eyes and offer great health benefits, including a reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, mental decline and high blood pressure.

Next week, on New Year's Eve, greens of all kinds will be served in homes across the country in hopes of bringing good luck in the coming year. This is one of my favorite recipes from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. He calls for using Dixie beer, which you cannot find in Chattanooga. Instead I use whatever I have on hand, though I've found good old Budweiser to work perfectly. While adding beer and bacon makes the greens not quite as healthful as other recipes, remember: Moderation is key.

Southern Cooked Greens

1/2 pound raw bacon, chopped

3 cups julienned onions

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Pinch cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 tablespoon minced garlic

12 ounces beer

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon molasses

6 pounds turnip greens, kale or collard greens, cleaned and stemmed

In large pot, render bacon until crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, and cook 6-7 minutes or until they are wilted. Season the mixture with salt, pepper and cayenne. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the beer, vinegar and molasses. Stir in the greens, 1/3 at a time, pressing down as they start to wilt. Cook the greens, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Makes about 8 servings.

NYE Body Prep

New Year's Eve is a big night for overindulging in alcohol, so it's important to eat something before you begin to imbibe. Here's some advice from nutritionist Isabel Butler on prepping your body for the New Year' Eve celebrations. You can still have a few drinks, but if you follow her advice, the likelihood that you'll end up with a hangover - or worse - is lessened. And don't' forget, if you plan on drinking more than a couple of drinks, designate a driver or call Uber.

* Eat before heading out. If you drink on an empty stomach, the alcohol will go straight to your head.

Pasta dishes are a good choice. Be sure to add plenty of veggies to pack in your vitamins and minerals. If you're in a bit of a rush, avocado on toast is great as this is high in good fats to help slow down food digestion. The key is to slow down your digestion so the alcohol doesn't immediately affect you.

* Curb the fizz. If you don't want to feel bloated when you're out, try avoiding fizzy drinks and, yes, that means champagne and prosecco. Try a wine instead. Also avoid drinking a lot of fizzy drinks during the day so not to feel bloated before you head out the door. Peppermint or ginger tea can help settle your stomach.

* Enjoy mocktails too. When out drinking at holiday parties, there is no harm in enjoying a drink. But try mixing it up with a nonalcoholic beverage too. Either have a glass of water or a mocktail. If you're a beer drinker, mix it up by having a nonalcoholic beer every other drink.

All these tips are just a good thing to follow. Have fun, but be safe this New Year's Eve so we can all welcome in 2019 together!

Email Anne Braly at

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