This week the Autumn Body Rejuvenation Cleanse group moves into the Cleanse Phase of the program, which allows the body to move deeper into letting go, relaxing, detoxifying, and cleansing. However, it is also the time of euphoria, renewed energy for some, needed sleep for others. During this phase I find myself singing in the kitchen, in the shower, walking around the house doing necessary chores, yet now they seem effortless and all easily part of my day.

During a past Cleanse phase session, a veteran Cleanse participant of five years, remarked on her upcoming trip to Disney World, “I know how difficult these next two weeks will be finding food I can eat staying in Disney World, but I don’t care, because I am looking forward to how great I feel when I am following the Cleanse Phase of the program.”

Dare I say, we all nodded in understanding, knowing her time would be spent looking for clean, organic, nutritious foods, while we all would be rolling up collard greens with the most delicious ingredients.

This recipe calls for using cooked lentils, however, feel free to substitute some ground turkey or chicken if that is your desire. Either way, you can assemble all the parts over the course of a day or two, then put it all together for a wonderful meal that could even travel with you, as you journey on your way.

Stuffed Collard Rolls
Serves 6

11/2 cups short grain brown rice
3 cups water
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, washed well, cut into half-moons
12 collard stems, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup lentils
1 teaspoon sea salt
12 collard leaves

1. In a medium size saucepan combine the rice with water and salt, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until water has been absorbed, about 50 minutes. When done set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, rinse the collard greens, shake off any moisture and place on a plate next to a cutting board. Take each collard, lay it flat on the board and slice along each side of the stem, leaving about 1-2 inches at the top attached. (Remove the stem and set aside to mince later). Fold each collard in half lengthwise and set aside while you prepare the remaining leaves.
3. Add a cup of water to a large skillet and arrange the folded collards, just overlapping each other, in the water. Cover and simmer over medium low until just tender, but still bright and green. When done remove the cover, and leaving the leaves in the skillet run under cool water to stop them cooking.
4. Heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté the leeks until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the minced collard stems, garlic, lentils and sea salt stirring well. Spoon in the cooked brown rice, plus half a cup of water. Stir to combine vegetable with rice, salt to taste, and remove from the heat.

ASSEMBLE
To assemble the rolls, lay a collard green on the cutting board and cross one side over the other, just enough to close the gap between the two sides.
Using a quarter measuring cup, scoop the rice onto the collard about 2 inches up from the bottom. Cover with the lower part of the leaf, then fold in the sides, roll again, continuing to tuck and roll right to the top. When done place each roll gently into a casserole pan and return to preparing the next collard roll.

TOPPINGS
There are several options for topping the rolls, and I am sure your creative taste buds can conjure up a few of your own, but for inspiration allow me to suggest the following:

Pour a can of diced tomatoes over the collard rolls, cover with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F, for 20 minutes.

Using your favorite red pasta sauce, pour the jar over the rolls, sprinkle with Romano cheese and bake covered for 20 minutes.

Prepare a tahini miso sauce by placing: ¼ cup tahini * 1 tablespoon white miso * 1” piece peeled ginger * 1 clove garlic * juice of half a lemon * 1 cup water, in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour over the rolls, cover and bake.

Roast either an acorn or butternut squash. When cool remove skin and mash in a bowl. Meanwhile, sauté:
1 onion, minced
2 clove garlic, minced
1” piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced, in olive oil until soft and tender.

Add a pinch or two of sea salt, then spoon in the squash and mix it all up to combine the flavors. Serve the collard roll resting atop a mound of the squash puree, add a spinach, alfalfa sprout salad on the side and feel your insides sing the song of life, for this is the gift you have given yourself. Congratulations!