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How to Cook Basic Greens

By April 4, 2022Recipes
Reading Time: 3 minutes
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It’s not always an easy balance: convenience and variety. If you want to prepare in advance and in a jiffy, you’re often stuck with the same thing day after day. But there is a solution.

One of the best ways to get variety in your meals without too much struggle is to make one dish that can be transformed into something else when you reheat it. Think of this as a “base” — it only takes a few minutes to prepare and then a few minutes to reheat. The possibilities become almost endless.

As an example of what you can do, let’s look at our basic greens. This particular recipe uses lacinato or “dino” kale. I like this variety because it’s really easy to chop up and handle compared to the traditional curly kale.


You can use any variety of kale for this basic greens recipe, though. You can even buy the pre-cut kale in a bag from the supermarket. You could also substitute other greens like chard or spinach. Just remember, spinach shrinks a lot, so make sure you’ve got enough of the raw stuff to make several servings.

How to Cook Basic Greens

You can use any kind of greens for this recipe. I like "dino" greens because they are especially easy to clean and cut.

Category Side Dish, Vegetarian
Compliance Level Kickstart, Lifestyle, Performance
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2
Author Michael Stanwyck


  • 1 Tbsp butter, ghee, olive oil, or lard
  • 1 onion diced or sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced or sliced
  • 1 bunch lacinato or "dino" kale sliced crosswise into ribbons
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock


  1. Heat fat over a medium heat in a large, 6-quart pot. You want some room to move the kale around.

  2. Toss in the onions, season with salt and pepper, and stir until onions are soft. It should take about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds longer. You'll really start to smell the garlic when it's ready.
  4. Add the kale and a little bit of chicken stock. You don't need to add much, just enough to steam and moisten the kale. You really don't want this swimming.
  5. As the sliced kale breaks down start to mix it with the onions and garlic. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. After 5 minutes, uncover it and cook until most of any remaining liquid has evaporated.

You now have your base of basic greens. From here, you can adjust the seasonings, but you may want to wait until you reheat your greens with any of the additional ingredients listed below.

For variety, when you reheat you can add:

  • Pine nuts and raisins
  • Coconut milk and curry powder
  • Chopped tomatoes, bacon, red chili flakes, and a splash of vinegar
  • Breakfast sausage
  • Any chopped leftover vegetables you have from dinner

To reheat: heat a little more oil in a saute pan and add your desired additional ingredients. If you’re adding the bacon, cook that first and use some of the bacon fat to cook the remaining ingredients. Then, stir in your kale base and toss until warmed through. Season if needed, and voila!

Plate these basic greens along with the protein of your choice and you’re all set with a healthy, nutritious, and simple meal.

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Michael Stanwyck
Michael Stanwyck is the co-founder of The Whole Life Challenge, an idea that developed during his seven years as a coach and gym manager at CrossFit Los Angeles.

He graduated from UCLA with a BA in philosophy as well as a degree from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, and feels food is one of the most important parts of a life - it can nourish, heal, and bring people together.

Michael believes health and well-being are as much a state of mind as they are a state of the body, and when it comes to fitness, food, and life in general, he thinks slow is much better than fast (most of the time). Stopping regularly to examine things is the surest way to put down roots and grow.

He knows he will never be done with his own work, and believes the best thing you can do for your well-being starts with loving and working from what you’ve got right now.