Monday, August 24, 2009

Transplanting arugula

A friend dug up an aruluga plant to give me a start from her front-yard garden ~10 days ago. It is special - a variety called "Italian Rustic". I definitely would call its flavor 'assertive'! Only a few leaves need be added to a salad to give it some hefty bite.

I dug a big hole, filled it with fresh compost from our back-yard compost bin, watered the hole, and then made room for the plant's roots to spread out before watering again, and finally filling in the top of the hole with the dirt I dug out. It went from perky to flat overnight, and I wondered if I had killed it.

(Photo: transplanted Italian rustic arugula (flat, in the center of the photo), in among some kale, lavender, and strawberries right by our back garage door)

However, I faithfully kept the soil moist in between rains (not soaked). It took a week to become perky again. It must have finally decided that it likes its new home, and this is now what it looks like, just standing straight up, each leaf reaching for the sun, and downright spicy when I pick a leaf to sample. This variety is supposed to be cold tolerant, so I am hoping that having it right by my house, on the south side, in a little warmish micro-climate, will help it winter over so I can dig it up to take to its new home on our farm next spring and then just let it spread by seed popping, just like my friend's had (she had no trouble finding me a new volunteer start to dig up to share!).

Where kale (and other brassica vegetables) are more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Time to plant your fall and winter kale!

The New York Times is not the first place I would look for gardening advice, but there they are with an article today, right on schedule, recommending that now is the time to start sowing seeds for fall and winter greens, including kale.

I have been collecting my kale seeds for the last month or so, that started from our one plant that first overwintered and grew back last year, just as this article describes.

I'll plant a little bit in my front or back yard at our current home but will plant most at our new farm as soon as the land is ready to sow.

Here are two recent photos:

(Photo: backyard kale plant so heavy with seed pods that the stalks are lying on top of the patio and strawberry plants)

(Photo: one Red Russian kale plant volunteer in our community garden, growing right next to the compost pile. Its roots must LOVE where they are growing!)

I forgot to send some kale seeds with my younger son when he left to return to his home in Seattle where he has taken a tiny tiny tiny piece of dirt in the courtyard of his apartment complex to plant his garden. Time to get some kale seeds growing while he waits for his tomatoes to ripen up. His neighbors took good care of his plants while he was on vacation here at home in Michigan and are now even offering to continue helping. Yes, there is something that feels good about putting your hands in the dirt and nurturing life (and good food). :-)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, August 7, 2009

Founder of Whole Foods Market puts KALE in his breakfast smoothies!

Alrighty! According to a recent interview with John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods Market, he makes a smoothie for breakfast every morning using almond, oat, rice, or soy milk, fresh fruit in season, plus fresh kale or spinach leaves!

Oh wow - I like the sound of that!

Although I have been making a soy shake/smoothie for breakfast most mornings since my breast cancer diagnosis in 1995, I only started putting kale in my morning shake a few years ago. I first heard of doing this from a friend who has survived a brain tumor years beyond her doctors' expectations. Her 'secret'? In addition, to surgery, chemo, and radiation, she began drinking my SuperSoy and Phytochemical Shake recipe every morning but with the twist of "2 handfuls of kale leaves" as additional ingredients.

I don't know what 'two handfuls' really means for her. I am content to put in 1-2 leaves (minus the thick stems). I still like to see my smoothie be the color of the fruit and not have an overwhelming vegetable taste. I do not like my smoothies as sweet as most people and often find myself adding frozen unsweetened cranberries or unflavored yogurt to cut some of the sweetness if using sweetened soy milk or sweetened fruit, so having a slightly more veggie flavor as background is just fine with me.

Of course, my friend's account is what is called an anecdote or case study, with only an N=1. Her individual success is not a research study or 'proof' of any kind. However, kale is off the charts when it comes to being loaded with molecules that are both antioxidants and have other health-promoting benefits (including cancer-fighting activity), too.

What's not to like and try? Many thanks to John Mackey and Whole Foods Market for finally getting back to promoting healthy ingredients and food preparation at home as part of ultra-healthy (and enjoyable!) life habits. Purchasing less junk food (even organic junk food) leaves more money for purchasing healthy produce from both Whole Foods Market and local organic growers at your own Farmers' Markets.

Here is my original recipe with the kale leaves added as an optional ingredient, developed back in 1995, even before the word "smoothie" made it to the Midwest. Experiment yourself!

Diana's SuperSoy and Phytochemical Shake


2 1/2 oz. soft or silken tofu (1/6 of a 1 lb. block)
3/4 cup of soy milk (I use unsweetened)
1 large carrot or 6 - 8 baby carrots
3/4 cup of orange juice
3/4 cup fresh or frozen fruit (no sugar added)
1-2 tablespoons of wheat or oat bran
1-2 tablespoons of wheat germ
1-2 tablespoons of ground or whole flax seed
(Kale leaves to taste)

Mix together in a blender for 1-2 minutes, then drink and enjoy! Yes, it makes a lot. I drink this entire recipe for breakfast, which might take me an hour to consume. My boys (now ages 26 and 31) can drink this entire shake in a few minutes and also need cereal or a bagel to fill up for breakfast.

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate or in my blender!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

PS - I found a copy of the full interview with John Mackey at the following URL:, but it is possible that the Wall Street Journal may limit viewing the full article. However, with some searching, I'll bet you can find it on the web somewhere.