We Love Kale. Book Tip.
I love to cook and eat and to discuss cooking and eating. In my observation, if you start talking about kale, people either love it or hate it. They either embraced it to the point that they may skip the salad unless there is kale in it, or they would demand full disclosure of ingredients if they see green color in their food, resembling little kids who would not eat anything green. In the latter case, they may accept lettuce greens, but admit with sincere guilt that they wish they loved kale but do not know how to even start trying it.
That’s where the book “Fifty Shades of Kale” comes in very handy. The authors, Drew Ramsey, M.D. and Jennifer Iserloh, can definitely help with transition from hating to loving kale, offering fifty attractive but simple recipes with kale. This super food offers an opportunity to include a superb array of nutrients into our consumption, boosting our health. All you need to do is start incorporating it into your cooking on regular basis.
The authors wrote the book with lots of passion. Just look at the choice of words in the opening sentence: “Nothing is sexier than a sharp, happy mind atop a lean, healthy body. Few foods are able to deliver this promise like kale.” They refer to cooking with kale and eating it as a loving sensual committed relationship from which you thrive. In a very simple language they describe the chemistry of kale and why it is so good for you. Even though, Dr. Ramsey’s expertise is “healthy mind” (he is a psychiatrist), we get a helpful reminder that kale is a serious super food that nourishes our whole being. Diabetic or not, kale will do you lots of good. So, buy it and start eating it, if you are not already. In the book, we get a quick and easy tutorial on the best cooking methods for kale and tips on how to pair it up with other healthy ingredients to arrive at tasty flavorful combinations. The recipes include ideas on how to include kale in your breakfast, snacks, vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals, desserts and drinks.
My History with Kale So Far
I am not new to kale, and have been using kale in my kitchen before I came across this book. Here is some of my personal “interactions” with kale before I share the list of the recipes from the book that I picked for adding into my kale menu. At first, I found it tedious to have to “de-vein” kale (removing the thick stem), so I sarted buying pre-washed packaged organic baby kale in the salad section of a grocery store. It is very easy to throw a bunch of baby kale into a salad – no washing, no cutting required – it looks like baby greens. The other day at the grocery store, I saw gadgets to “de-vein” kale. I have not tried any of them but here is one and another one . So, most of the time I have a box of baby kale in my refrigerator, and occasionally when I need large leaves of kale for a recipe, I de-vein in by cutting the stem out with a large sharp knife.
More Smoothies: I make fruit smoothies all the time: combine your favorite fruit and berries and add some spinach and/or kale to it. Spinach is pretty neutral in taste, and you can put two handfuls of it and not alter the taste of the drink. Kale, however, is slightly bitter – just a hand full is good unless you do not mind the bitter flavor in your smoothie. I also make vegetable smoothies and kale is perfect for that. Here is a very addictive example of what I make: combine kale, spinach, a few bites of raw beet, one peeled grapefruit, one lemon or lime (with skin if organic) and some water (coconut oil can be added to it or taken with it in a spoon or in a capsule) – I need to warn you that this does not taste very good to an average palate, but once you get used to it, your body begins to crave it and you will find yourself drinking and experiencing a joyful bliss.
Italian White Bean and Kale Soup: I also like to add kale to soups, especially the delicious Italian white bean soup. Here is roughly how I make it: on the bottom of a large soup pot, sautee two finely chopped onions in some grape seed or avocado oil, add 1 lb of ground turkey and cook until almost done, pour 1 quart of turkey or chicken bone broth (or regular broth) and one quart of water (or more to cover vegetables that you will add; use only water for a vegetarian soup), add one large chopped sweet potato, 2-3 grated or chopped carrots, 1-2 bay leafs, two 15oz cans of rinsed white beans, approx. 2 tea spoons of Tuscan herb blend (or your favorite herbs, fresh or dried), add salt and very little pepper (adjust for it in the very end), bring to a boil and cook on medium/low heat until vegetables are almost done, add one standard “salad” package of baby spinach and one package of baby kale (same size). Quantities of greens as well as spices can be adjusted to your liking. The authentic Italian trick to this recipe is to add a piece or two (about 2×2 inches) of Parmesan rind to the soup when you add broth and water. We tried it with the rind and without: it is delicious either way. A typical dried Italian Tuscan herb blend includes marjoram, basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, garlic and red pepper.
Steamed Cod Wrapped in Kale: Once I watched a video that promoted a very large Vitalis steamer, and the presenter was making steamed cod with herbs and lemon wrapped in kale leaves instead of parchment paper. I though it was a fabulous trick to adopt. Choose kale leaves that are rather large, cut out the thick stem, lay down one or two pieces of kale, place a piece of fish on one side of it, season with salt and pepper, top with a thin slice of lemon and herbs that you like, maybe throw in a slice of ginger and/or garlic, gently wrap all the ingredients inside the kale leaves (repeat with each piece of fish), place the wrapped fish on the steamer and cook away. That particular steamer is so spacious that you could also place some sliced vegetables near the kale and fish rolls (e.g., bok choy, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower) and sprinkle them with Tamari wheat-free soy sauce.
Inspirations From the Book: Below is the list of recipes from “Fifty Shades of Kale” that will further enhance my relationship with kale. I am also including a few comments on my choices along with some ideas on how I could modify the recipes to suit certain dietary preferences. So, I am definitely recommending this book and suspect that anyone who wants to add more kale to their daily diet would benefit from the inspirations shared by the authors. Here is the list of recipes that inspire me:
- Page 18 — Huevos Rancheros: I love the combination of beans, kale and eggs but will likely replace sausage with ground turkey.
- Page 21 — Lox Me Up and Throw Away the Key: my whole family loves smoked salmon; adding kale to cream cheese is a great simple idea; I probably would use Udis gluten free toast instead of the English muffins; I would also make a version of “Lox Me Up” with “Goddess Guacamole” (page 54) instead of the cream cheese spread.
- Page 30 — Sunny Side Up with Greens: excellent for grown ups, not so sure about the kids but will give it a try.
- Page 33 — Cocoa Delight: sounds very tempting; I will try to use less sweetener and will replace regular sugar with coconut sugar, raw honey, real maple syrup or stevia; it works well for me to replace the sweetness with flavors of spices, so in this case, I would add sugar-free vanilla extract or vanilla bean powder and cardamom to the drink.
- Page 36 — Kale Kiwi Gazpocho: sounds delicious on a hot day and so easy to make.
- Page 42 — Roasted Kale Chips: I have made them before and will continue to make it; most people seem to love these chips, even kids; I also tried and loved these sprinkled with toasted sesame oil and red cayenne pepper; make sure that kale leaves are really dry before putting them in the oven.
- Page 45 — Zucchini and Kale Bites: I’d like to try these for a small dinner party as an odorve.
- Page 50 – Kaleslaw: it is an excellent idea to add kale to any salad and to make slaw with it; I would also add some finely chopped cabbage and skip the Kale-onaise, a version of mayonnaise with added kale; I make all of my slaws with olive oil, some sea salt, lemon juice and various combinations of herbs, fresh or dried; when making a dressing, add some chopped kale along with other ingredients to a food processor and pulse a few times.
- Page 68 and 72 — Sweet & Sour Vegetables and Ramen Noodles with Kale: I always love to diversify with international flavors and these two recipes seem very luring; for the latter recipe, if you want to stay gluten-free, choose buckwheat soba noodles that contain no wheat (Eden makes it); also for the latter recipe, I might experiment with various mushrooms and cilantro, as one can see on the photograph on page 73.
- Page 71 — Mushroom and Kale Risotto: I definitely love the idea of a risotto that is not loaded with butter and cheese; the key here is to really get a variety of some good mushrooms into one pot – some grocery stores sell pre-packed wild mushrooms mixed with common button mushrooms and baby bella mushrooms; if you don’t find a package like that, try mixing common mushrooms with shiitake, oyster and dried porcini mushrooms; dried porcinis need to be soaked in cold water first, then cleaned under running cold water and chopped into small pieces before adding them to the cooking pot.
I look forward to adding more and more kale into my and my family’s food. Eating kale frequently, or better daily, is a habit definitely worth investing in.