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Posts tagged ‘gardening’

My Love Affair with Kale is Still Going Strong

Head of dark green kale.

A thing of beauty

How could it not?

Look at this. This was harvested from my garden on December 19, 2012. It’s still growing! Granted, this is an extremely mild winter so far, we’ve only had two hard frosts and a dusting of snow. The rest of the garden has long since gone to sleep. The broccoli might have survived, but I pulled it all up when it bolted so badly.

In case I needed reasons.

How can you not love a vegetable that is so hardy and productive, and so good for you? I had expected to be using what I had frozen by now. I have so much in my freezer that I can’t find other things. I have used some of what I froze, I made a lasagna with chopped kale instead of spinach. Believe it or not, my husband even liked it! In any case, this one vegetable, planted in a ring around the garden, has fed me every day since last spring. I have become addicted to kale added to my oatmeal. I did try the frozen in it, but it is not as nice of a texture, so the fact that those little powerhouses are still going strong makes me so happy. If it was a bad year, the deer would have eaten them all. The two days we did get snow, they immediately came in the yard and topped the whole back of the garden. I harvested a whole bunch then, assuming I was salvaging what I could before they got it all, but they haven’t been back and the rest are still growing.

Just a reminder

In case you can’t figure out why kale makes me so happy, here are some reasons, I copied this from an article on webMD:

One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.

Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.

Ok, so maybe I should be eating more cooked kale, but I have the rest of the winter to do that.

Reason No. 43 to Love Your Leafy Greens

Ta DaA small garbage bag of Swiss Chard!

Look at all this! And after a hard frost! This is the 3rd or 4th major harvest. I cut it all down this time to put all the newspaper, compost and leaves on the garden. How can you not like a veggie that just keeps giving like this? The kale is still growing well too. I left the cabbage in too, hoping the heads will get bigger than a fist. What to do with it? Well, put it in EVERYTHING! from your scrambled eggs, soups, stews, stir fries, casseroles, and meat loaf (don’t tell my husband). Between the food processor and the blender, you can hide your leafy greens all over the place.

Two Recipes for your Health

I’m not a foodie, but I do have my moments. I made two recipes today to use lots of veggies since I have a garden, belong to a community garden and belong to a C.S.A. To explain, a C.S.A. is Community Supported Agriculture- you buy a share from a farm at the beginning of the summer, and you get a share of whatever is produced throughout the summer. Anyway, I have LOTS of veggies in the house, and part of our goal with our community garden is to encourage our church members to eat healthier, since the garden is a church activity, so I came up with some recipes that I thought everyone would like. Eating lots of veggies is the BEST way to stay healthy. While people can argue the point, I see a strong correlation between taking care of your physical body and taking care of your spirit. I also make a “kale slaw”, but that is just cole slaw with kale substituted for the cabbage. I didn’t have enough after the pot luck to bring any home, so I guess it was successful.

So, I thought I would share the two recipes to help others enjoy their veggies.

Americanized Tabbouleh western version of a middle eastern salad

I changed it to use all the kale I have:

3-4 kale leaves, finely chopped
1 c. Bulgar wheat, prepared
1-T. lemon juice
1t. lime juice (optional)
¼  of an onion, chopped
1 cucumber peeled and chopped
1 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2T. Italian dressing
1-4T. chopped fresh mint
Mix and chill

All amounts are approximate, I don’t measure things, I go by look and taste.
Now, this second is based on a possible memory, I thought I had heard of something like this, but couldn’t find any recipe, so I just “winged it”. It turned out fantastic.

Beet slaw

beet salad

pretty too!

1 peeled shredded beet
6 or so baby carrots
a few splashes of balsamic vinegar
a dab of  molasses
a dab of strawberry jam
a good squirt or two of olive oil mayonnaise
a handful of dried cranberries
I wasn’t sure what raw beets would be like, but it was really, really good. I had a carrot salad that was a bit sweet with raisins at a restaurant the other day, giving me the idea of what to put in.

Healthy Eating at it’s Finest

I will be the first to admit that going that extra distance on healthy eating is a challenge. When we look at the typical Western diet (what a cliche that’s become!), there is much about it that is more about convenience, profit or taste rather than health. Lets review for a second what we know about good food:

  • Fresh is best, followed by frozen, dried and canned.
  • Vegetables are the powerhouses of nutrition, and what is least consumed in a typical diet.
  • Vegetables, being low in calories, should form the bulk of our diets, since we all love to eat.
  • Fresh food is best locally grown, since then it isn’t wasting gas being shipped, and losing nutrients on the way.
  • It is good, if possible, to avoid pesticides, and other chemicals in our diets

Knowing all this, we should all be growing as much of our own food as possible. However, once you grow all this goodness, what do you do with it? Learning about canning and freezing is it’s own field of learning. Also, what do you do with all that kale?

So that is what this blog article is about. My experiments to get as much of the green stuff in as possible. Lets start with the garden:

broccoli in the garden

Broccoli- the leaves are greens too.

lettuce and chard

lettuce and chard- all greens can be used interchangeably. Yes, you can cook lettuce.

Beet greens and kale

more greens, kale and beet tops.

As you can see, you can be harvesting from your garden from early spring- don’t wait to put the lettuce, peas and spinach in, all through the summer, but much of that is just the greens. Those are the most nutritious parts, but how often can you have them sauteed or in a salad before you get tired of them? So I have been experimenting with getting ways more greens in. I have my little magic blender knock off, and I’ve been pureeing the greens and adding them to my morning oatmeal. Many people make green smoothies, blending the greens with fruit and milk. When kale is blended, it has a lovely fresh green taste, like eating summer. However, I realize that many people would not find that appealing. I’ve also chopped them and added them to my tuna or pasta salads. I think that is great, but again, I would add a little at a time, gradually increasing the amount to get used to it.

As you can tell, I’m all about grinding them up and using them as biomass. First, you can get a lot more in you in an unobtrusive fashion.  If I stuff my little blender full, it grinds down to about 1/4 cup. This also gets you past the texture problem, as kale and broccoli can be a bit tough. I’m still working on how to get this mixture into other foods, to get the less enthusiastic members of the family on board. Today I tried adding it with eggs.

First, I ground the greens, then I threw them on the griddle with dried tomato and basil:

ground greens on a griddle. Looks like baby poop.

M-m-m-m, looks yummy, doesn’t it?

Well, I’m thinking “this is not looking like a winner”. But, I persist, adding some chopped onion, egg and cheese:

greens and eggs

Now, that looks better. Not.

But, me being me, I go through with it and eat it:

finished egg dish

I don’t know how it looks to you, but it looks better than it has a right too and wasn’t bad tasting.

So this was the finished product. It tasted better than I hoped. My biggest complaint was that it was a bit dry. Don’t blend your eggs- it takes all the structure out of them, taking away that “eggy” texture. It was odd that it was dry, since you have to add some liquid to blend the kale, and veggies are mostly liquid. I probably cooked the greens too long. I will try this again, it was good enough to do that.

In other veggie cooking news, kale chips are all they are cracked up to be, and more. Very addictive. I wonder if my other greens can be cooked the same way? I’ll try and let you know.

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