Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Recipe: Pasta with Kale

I'm all about simple cooking, not really needing 'recipes' per se. Here is an example of what I mean.

When we cook a turkey, we use every bit of it, including the bones to make stock, which always have lots of juicy little 'bits' of meat on them. We freeze that stock with the meat 'bits' in quart containers to pull out later in the year to combine with pasta. To make this a fast supper does require some planning, so at some point during the week, I might pull one of the quarts out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator for several days in order to use quickly for some night's dinner when we are pressed for time or just plain tired.

I use locally-made Al Dente pasta (the whole wheat with flaxseed variety) that I purchase in our local grocery store, which requires only 3 minutes to cook. I bring the entire 1# bag to boil in a large pot for 1-1/2 minute, strain it through a colander, do a quick rinse with warm water, and then combine the partially cooked pasta with the quart of turkey broth and meat in the same large pot, and heat to finish cooking with the broth being absorbed. Making a meal of pasta and turkey with a steamed vegetable and salad is quick, easy, and delicious.

I added a large amount (about 4 cups) of coarsely chopped kale or other vegetables during the second cooking session so the vegetables will be cooked but still brightly colored and crisp when the pasta is done cooking.

Yum, yum and easy as can be!

(Photo: Pasta with kale and garlic scape pesto)
I should confess however that my 'secret' ingredient here is garlic scape - kale pesto, which really zips up this dish by just adding a couple of ice cube size chunks from my freezer to the final pasta mixture right in with the turkey broth. Now we're talking extra yum, yum, yum!!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate - it's in my pasta!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm Rooting for Kale!!!

Chicken? Kale? Chicken? Kale?

I don't get it. Chicken and kale have nothing in common, especially comparing the fast food chicken from Chick-fil-A to any type of kale from anywhere. However, the giant fast food company is asking Bo Muller-Moore, the artist in Vermont who designed and prints the "Eat More Kale" t-shirts and bumper stickers to cease and desist, even asking him to hand over his website www.eatmorekale.com to the company.

I have both a t-shirt and bumper sticker, and I am firmly rooted on the side of kale and small (very small, a one-man ) business.

I don't know how to help Bo except to order more of his products. Chick-fil-A has given him amazing publicity, so I'll probably wait forever for the order to be filled, but that's ok! Yes, "EAT MORE KALE"!! (Addendum: A petition in favor of Bo Muller-Moore can be signed at change.org.)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, (because I now wear it and eat it in support of Bo Muller-Moore's "EAT MORE KALE"!)

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, November 20, 2011

All Hail Kale!

I made a quick trip to a new (to me) local farmers' market this morning to pick up a cheese order from Zingerman's Creamery to take with us to share for Thanksgiving dinner later this week. That trip also brought the pleasure of buying a HUGE 'bouquet' of kale from one of my favorite new young farmers, Megan DeLeeuw who has started Hand Sown Farm in Sharon Township near Manchester, MI.

Here is a photo of the kale bouquet on my kitchen counter.

(Photo: Curly kale from Hand Sown Farm, Sharon Township, Manchester, MI)



Here is what I plan to do with it. First I will make my favorite cranberry chutney to take with us to Thanksgiving dinner and (if there is any left - hope hope!) next I will make Cranberries with Kale as one of my favorite Thanksgiving "left-over" meals.

I am sorry I did not have my camera to take Megan's picture today at the Canton Farmers' Market. Her stand was beautiful and bountiful, filled with gorgeous and delicious vegetables. I have tried to take Megan's picture at markets in the past but her stand is always too crowded with happy buyers (the 'problem' of success!) to get a great shot showcasing her and her lovingly hand-sown food.

So until next spring, I'll just have to be content with the photo of her kale bouquet on my kitchen counter and the anticipation of her sweet, delicious kale tantalizing my taste buds. Megan does promote my kale blog to help people find recipes to use kale, so over the winter, I'm going to work on designing a sign that she can stick into her bushel of kale on her market table to point people to all the tasty recipes on this blog.

What are your favorite recipes? I should look at my blog stats to figure out which are the top recipes people are viewing, but I am more interested in your comments after actually eating my recipes. Feel free to chime in!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my kale (and other Brassica vegetable) fans!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, on Thanksgiving Day and for those all-important left-overs!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Is kale on that pumpkin?

I think it might be! I didn't look at the video, just the picture posted up, but kale hair looks like a fun way to dress up a jack-o-lantern. I sure wish I had thought of that!

Where kale is not only on my plate but should be on my pumpkins, too!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, October 28, 2011

Two haikus - Just for fun!

Morning without web
Time for creative cooking
Kale, of course, and more

Thank goodness we had power, even if we did not have internet access! So I made a variation of my Garlic Sweet Potato Kale Soup recipe, using ingredients by memory (i.e., what's in the refrig and on hand in the pantry), plus including several types of recently made broths combined into one big pot.

I doubled the broth, but not the other ingredients, added about 2 cups of coarsely chopped savoy cabbage and about 1/2 cup of chopped stems from the tops of celeriac with a few of the strong tasting leaves. 

One of my broths was deliberately spicy, the other very green (having used a gigantic handful of parsley stems). The soup ended up quite spicy even without any added hot ingredients, so I actually added just 1 teaspoon of our honey at the very end, something I have never done. That was just enough to 'mellow' the bite of the soup. 

I let the sweet potato cubes simmer gently for about 10 minutes before adding the cabbage and chopped kale, letting them cook only a few minutes so they still had crunch and color (hmm, the phrase 'crunch and color' has a nice ring to it) in the final soup.

Last night a young friend temporarily living with us looked at our dinner plate with large servings of the Kale-Cabbage Gratin, asking 'What's that?' followed by 'You eat the most interesting food here!'. Yes, I know we eat differently than many (even most) people, so much so that I also know that our food is sometimes 'so interesting' that I am hesitant to make extra of what we eat to take to friends who need meals. However, I know that this soup recipe I made today will be well received and interesting but not 'too interesting', thus two large containers are already set aside to take to two friends currently in need of meals who certainly think I have forgotten them.

Although I came up with a great soup without access to my favorite recipes this morning, this experience did give me a fleeting thought that maybe I do need to follow-up on the urging of several people over the years to do my own cookbook. Even if I had had all my recipes downloaded onto my hard-drive or onto an E-book reader, I would not have needed to rely just on my memory this morning.

Food for thought, in my 'spare time' - hahaha. :-)

This slowing down thing
What is that? I am not sure
A full life is life

Oh dear, that last haiku just popped out, my third one today (I'm posting the first one I wrote today on my www.dianadyer.com blog). Something must have re-wired my brain or found an opening into a place long hidden. I think I'd better quit now.  :-)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Recipe Reprise - Kale and Cabbage Gratin

A reader recently posted a comment that she ate kale for the first time in her life with this Kale and Cabbage Gratin recipe, even though she has been a life-long vegetarian. In fact, she's so smitten with this dish that she says she is going to make it weekly! I think I could eat it weekly also, and she inspired me to run to the Farmers' Market this afternoon to buy some cabbage plus some more kale since I did not think I had enough to make the full recipe.

I made a few changes from the original recipe:
1) I used much more kale this time even though I did not weigh it. I also used Red Russian kale instead of the Lacinato kale and did cut off a good 1-2 inches of thick stems from the bottom of each leaf. Otherwise, I just cut in horizontally into narrow strips.
2) I grated a large carrot into the vegetable mixture - I could have used two carrots!
3) I use a savoy cabbage, which was very sweet and mild
4) I added 1/4 cup of coarsely ground flaxseed to the 1/4 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs to cover the top
5) I did not have any feta cheese but I did have some sharp cheddar that my husband bought last weekend at a farmers' market in Lafayette, IN, that was USDA organic from 100% grass-fed dairy cows and not dyed orange - yum, yum, yum, just the best!!!
6) I already had brown rice cooked and in the refrigerator, knowing it would get used somehow this week. 
7) I used a large 9x13 dish, similar to what I would use to make a full recipe of lasagna.
8) I doubled the amount of garlic, especially in view of my recent post about the beneficial increased anti-cancer effects from the garlic-kale food combination. :-)

Using modifications of your own, I think this Kale and Cabbage Gratin could easily be a 'weekly recipe'.

 (Photo: Full recipe of Kale-Cabbage Gratin, not cooked yet)

(Photo: Close-up of Kale-Cabbage Gratin before I added the bread crumbs and flaxseeds)

Plenty for supper (with whole grain bread and our homemade wild grape-applesauce) and plenty for lunch left-overs, too. 

Where kale (and other Brassicas plus garlic) is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Garlic and Kale - together at last!

My husband and I were invited to do a 'garlic tasting' and food pairing at a local coffee shop that enjoys educating its customers about coffee and other foods. We chose 4 very different tasting garlic varieties for tasting raw plus a wide selection of simple foods to taste between each variety, both as palate cleansers but also as a flavor-pairing.

There were two surprise 'hits' for the flavor pairings, the first being toasted unsalted almonds paired with a type of garlic that has a 'sweet finish' (Romanian Red) and the second being kale (we used the lacinato kale from Seeley Farm in Ann Arbor).

Lo and behold, today I found two scientific articles showing increased cancer-fighting activity when molecules found in garlic and kale were paired together. They are cell studies, not even animal studies, but they point to the facts that (1) our foods are filled with molecules that have 'bio-activity' and (2) this wide array of molecules consumed together, even at very low dietary intake levels, is likely to enhance (i.e., increase) the effectiveness of each individual molecule, which is called synergistic action.

So "All hale kale with Dick's 'Pretty Good!' Garlic"! That's too long for a bumper sticker, but you can catch our enthusiasm for kale and garlic, paired together.  And you may even find our farm on Facebook now - look for The Dyer Family Organic Farm/Dick's 'Pretty Good!' Garlic. :-)

(Photo: Garlic tasting at The Ugly Mug in Ypsilanti, MI)
Where kale (and garlic!) are more than decoration on our plates,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just for fun - Kale quotes and t-shirts

My kale blog photo shows me holding a water bottle with an Eat More Kale sticker on it. Somewhere I know I have at least one photo of me wearing my "Eat More Kale" t-shirt, a Mother's Day gift from one of my sons a few years ago. However, until I find it to post up, here is a great quote from the EMK website:

"There are two types of people; 
those who eat kale and those who should." 
~~ Bo Muller-Moore 

And just to show you what this phrase and t-shirt company has inspired, here is the winner and a few of the favorite rhymes from a contest held recently by the Seattle P-I newspaper:

“Oh the joy of eating the super food kale; massaged, braised or boiled, it never gets stale”

So many great rhymes submitted.  A few favs include:

The nature-lover response “it keeps me happy, more dolphin than whale!” from Nadine.
The socialist response from Dana, “I’ve got enough to feed all those folks in jail.”
Ms. Science, Carolyn, completes the rhyme with  ”Renewing my mitochondria so I’m not frail
The straightforward consumer response, “Oh the joy of eating superfood kale, I want a t-shirt in the mail” from Lori.

I confess, I love the one about renewing my mitochondria, :-) and I might have also added 'building bones'!

Where kale is a super food, not decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Food, not pills - again!

A recent research publication once again has showed that consuming Brassica or cruciferous foods (i.e., in this case broccoli sprouts) is superior to ingesting a dietary supplement (i.e., pills) that contains a precursor to a bio-active molecule found in cruciferous foods but also lacks the necessary molecule that is needed for the enzymatic conversion of the pre-cursor molecule to active molecules.

Food, not pills. Food, not pills.........I've said it before, so I'll say it again.

I still eat 5-7 servings/week of Brassica vegetables, some raw, some very lightly cooked (i.e. still crunchy). This is the season to really enjoy the wide variety of these delicious vegetables.

Let's see what have I eaten during this past week already: arugala, kale (of course), mustard greens, turnips, kohlrabi, broccoli, bok choy, daikon radish, and there are still two days still to go!

The Linus Pauling Institute has a great website that is always up to date with its information about Brassica vegetables.

I love food, not pills, just in case you did not catch my drift! :-)

Addendum (2.28.2012) - I just found the link to the actual PhD thesis from which the data for this research publication were derived. The important tidbit I gleaned from skimming through the thesis is  that one serving/day of the cruciferous food consumed was enough, safe, and recommended to maintain a steady and effective level of anti-cancer molecules in the body.

Where kale is still more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, October 3, 2011

What to do with turnips!

Do you have too many turnips, from your garden, from your CSA box, from a 'so-called' friend? Is even one turnip too many?

I don't know if this is a novel idea, but using turnip slices to 'carry' some salsa or guacamole works just fine as a munchy appetizer while waiting for the rest of supper to be made and surprisingly, actually tastes great!

Hmmm, I can hear it now - 'tastes great!', 'less filling!', 'tastes great!', 'less filling!', ad nauseum......sorry about that.........it just fell out! :-)

Seriously, when pulled while still small, and sliced thin when much bigger, turnips are an alternative tasty way to eat other delicious and health-promoting Brassica vegetables just in case you might get tired of eating kale or more likely, not have any kale on hand.

(Photo: turnip slices with salsas, guacamole, and slices of heirloom tomatoes)

Where kale (and a turnip slice) is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Best Looking Kale Chip EVER!

A photograph, not a recipe.


 (Michigan's Lower Peninsula - Photo taken by Stephanie Stauffer, founder of Nightshade Army Industries, makers of fabulous salsa, chili paste, and hot sauce, using all locally-grown vegetables and featuring the best organic garlic from The Dyer Family Organic Farm/Dick's 'Pretty Good!' Garlic)

All right Stephanie, the challenge is on. Let's see a kale chip of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, too!

PS - Just to give credit where credit is due, the full story of this chip is the kale was grown by Stephanie Stauffer and Jason Voss, Jason made the kale chips, and Stephanie discovered the Lower Peninsula of Michigan appearing chip and took the photo. :-)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Still cooking! Kale Lasagna recipe again.

Feeding a crowd this weekend and don't want to use the grill or maybe you are cooking something in addition to the grill-food?

Look no further than cooking up a large pan of lasagna, with the sauce enhanced with the abundance of fresh summer vegetables available from your local organic farmers right now.

I went to my trusted and delicious recipe for Kale Lasagna already on this blog and made a few tweaks based on what I had available to use.
• 32 oz of 'pizza sauce' instead of 24 oz spaghetti sauce
• I omitted all the extra herbs since the sauce was already quite flavorful
• organic mozzarella cheese instead of vegan cheese (I prefer how 'real' cheese melts)
• the mushrooms I had just purchased this morning were already spoiled (I'll ask for my money back on my next trip to this store as the stinky mushrooms needed to get out of the house into the compost pile immediately!) so instead I added 3 sweet red peppers, chopped small in a food processor
• I simply cut the kale into fine strips rather than chopping in the food processor in order to have bigger pieces in the sauce and added them last to the sauce to keep from over-cooking it
• Yes, I followed my own recommendation from when I made it last time and only added 1/2 cup of water to the pan before cooking. 

Here is a photo of the sauce with the kale all ready to be stirred in.


All ready to cook. I made it a day ahead, covered it in foil, and will heat it up tomorrow afternoon when our company arrives. It is only supposed to be a high temperature of 60 degrees tomorrow - where did summer go??

I only vaguely know what else is being brought to eat. That is the fun of potlucks.

Happy Labor Day to all my readers and a happy start to the school year for those wonderful dedicated teachers and all their students who are ready to jump into school again for the 2011-2012 season! Hopefully some of them will be growing and eating kale from their school gardens, learning much, much earlier than I did that kale is delicious and more than decoration on a plate - woohoo!

Where kale is always more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Recipe: Kale-Potato-Fish Soup

Oh gulp, I knew it had been a long long time (actually, it also seems like in a galaxy far-far away) since I had posted here. I didn't know it had been two months............Sigh............You can read about my non-stop life at my dianadyer.com blog (not much posting there this summer either, but I am 'coming back', i.e. getting caught up, even a little - maybe even again).

Part of my 'coming back' is cooking again, and also cooking before it is dark outside when we feel we can 'justify' calling it quits outside at the farm. However, of course by then, we are too tired to do very much in terms of cooking or even eating. We have been far better this summer than last in terms of healthy eating because we have been trading garlic for fresh vegetables with many of our farmer friends and other vendors (i.e. cheese, bread). However, even when I have cooked, there has been no time or energy left over to blog.

'Time out!!' says the Universe. 'Cooking, eating, and blogging are too important to you to just quit what you love, so give something up, re-prioritize, even be bold and cook, eat, and blog during the daylight hours if you want to, yes if you want to."

Big deep breath, so here I am on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon inside quickly writing this post and even sharing a picture I remembered to take this week. All I did was look in my refrigerator and on my kitchen counter to find bits and pieces of delicious food items just waiting to be combined into something easy and delicious to eat one night last week.

I know I already have a recipe for Kale-Potato Soup on this blog, but I added fish, fish broth, and almost a quart of organic milk to this soup tonight because it was time to get those foods used up before I needed to freeze those left-overs.

So it really is a basic easy soup (no real amounts are needed because of the flexibility of this recipe):
• Chopped onion and garlic, saute quickly in a bit of olive oil in a large soup pot
• Poach fish in ~ 2 cups of water in separate 2 quart saucepan, skin and debone fish if needed, flake and set aside.
• Strain fish broth if needed
• Wash, chop, and cook potatoes in another saucepan until almost soft, drain, rinse starch off
• Add fish broth and potatoes to onions and garlic in large soup pot
• Simmer until potatoes are done through but not mushy
• Add chopped tomatoes
• Add chopped kale (I do take off the stems, save in my freezer to make future soup stock, and only use tender kale leaves)
• Add milk and heat until hot but not boiling
• I added a bit of salt and white pepper to taste

(Photo: Kale-Potato-Fish Soup, still in the soup pot, with slotted spoon showing off the kale, potatoes, and tomatoes)

Add anything else you wish and serve with anything you wish. I had some frozen lasagna that I re-heated and sliced organic peaches (found these at Whole Foods Market, but just this morning at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market, I saw that Scott and Mandy Decker who own Salem Orchard, my favorite local organic orchard, had a few, too - woohoo - many thanks, my young farmer friends, hmm, that does not sound quite right. What do you call yourselves? Fruit Farmers? Fruit Growers? Orchardists? I'll ask you when I see you next week, so I can set the record straight. In any case, many many thanks for your passion and dedication to bringing your family's old orchard back to life organically and expanding our local organic fruit options, too. You're the best!)

(Photo: organic peach slices, a scrumptious and just right dessert)
I really hope it is not another two months before I post again. I have eaten kale or other Brassica vegetables nearly every day in the interim, but what can I say. Life has gotten away from us since we are actually working full-time on our farm. Here is a funny joke. My husband writes the blog 'no time for bland food', which he is now thinking of re-naming the 'no time for blogging' blog.  Thanks to all my readers who have hung in here with me!

Where kale continues to be more than decoration on my plate, even if I am not blogging about it!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Here's what we're doing and here's what we're eating!

Doing? Garlic Scapes 'R' Us! Read more about it on my dianadyer blog here.

Eating? Last year we were so disorganized with starting the farm and getting the house repaired, barn built, etc, etc, that we often 'asked' our market customers what time we should show up for dinner. :-) This year, now that we have moved to the farm and are leading far less hectic lives (still busy, just less frazzled), eating the great food we grow and that of our fellow farmers is our nightly pleasure!

However, sometimes we are eating so late in the day (we try to use every daylight hour outside at the farm) that a 'big meal' is just too big and there is not enough energy left to fix a multi-course meal anyway. So, by making sure we always have just a few simple ingredients on hand (and rice cooked up ahead of time), this easy, simple stir-fry supper is just right for us in addition to being beautiful and delicious.




(Photo: Baby bok choi, a mild and beautiful member of the Brassica family,  from Green Things Farm in Ann Arbor plus our garlic scapes)

Cooking and eating does not need to be complicated to be satisfying nor does the table need to be 'groaning' with too much to eat or appreciate. This was 'just right' for us that night!

Where kale plus baby bok choi are more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A kitchen as green as kale

I love kale; I love the color green. Apparently the former owner of this house also loved the color green! However, the kitchen at the farm is TOO green! In spite of that green-overload, we love the work space in the kitchen and all the storage space. In our old kitchen, we had one functional drawer and cabinets in various places of the kitchen and mudroom (lots of walking to get stuff) where all of our kitchen things were stored.

So yesterday, after buying my first kale at Ann Arbor's brand-spanking new evening farmers' market, I came right home to fix it up for supper, having everything I needed to use within easy reach.

The kale came from Hand-Sown Farm, a brand new farm in Sharon Township, south-west of Ann Arbor. The land is beautiful out there. The lettuce in the photo came from Sunseed Farm, just outside of Ann Arbor. The beet greens in the strata came from Green Diva Farm in Belleville, MI and the eggs from Bridgewater Barns Farm in Bridgewater Township, MI. The asparagus is Michigan-grown and from our local grocery store.

This is kale in its simplest use, just torn up and tossed in a salad. It was delicious and tender, not tough or slightly bitter like what is often sold in the grocery stores. I did take a few of the larger stems and cut them up to cook with the asparagus, but they were tender enough to eat without doing that.

The salad dressing again was simple, just a toss with a little olive oil and also some of our 2010 chive blossom vinegar.

Run down to your local market to pick up your kale and other greens. Remember that radishes are also Brassicas and their greens can also be eaten!

(Photo: Kale home from the market; purchased from Hand-Sown Farm in Sharon Township, MI. Yes, you are looking at a green counter-top and a green wall. What is gone is the green plaid wall-paper!)

(Photo: Dinner - stir-fried Michigan asparagus with roasted garlic from the Dyer Family Farm, kale and lettuce salad with dried tomatoes, strata made with beet greens - yes the beet greens are in there, even if I just realized they cannot seen, yum, yum, yum!)

(Photo: supper close-up!)
Where kale continues to be more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Article: Food: The Omnivore's (and Vegetarian's) Labyrinth

I have posted in the past about the question "how much to eat" regarding kale and other Brassicas, without ever really giving an iron-clad and clear answer. 

A recent (and very readable) article in the journal Nature reviews the various reasons why it is so difficult to make sense of research (even well-designed and implemented research) that tries to evaluate any one food consumption's effect on cancer development (or even most aspects of health for that matter) and then follow-up with responsible health and dietary guidelines for the public.

Differences of content of various nutrients or "bio-active constituents" (a generic term used for all molecules in food that have a metabolic action in our body, even if they are not traditionally considered a nutrient) in the food itself (due to seed variety, growing conditions, food processing, shipping, etc) PLUS differences in how any one individual processes these molecules (basic DNA differences, epi-genetic differences by factors that influence the DNA expression, to differences in content and action of gut bacteria, etc) all play roles here.

The article uses broccoli sprouts as a food created for and being promoted for cancer prevention (a relative of kale, thus the relevance for sharing this article on my kale blog) as an example of how a food has become a 'functional food', defined by The Institute of Medicine as "those foods that encompass potentially healthful products including any modified food or ingredient that may provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains".

The article is informative by itself, however, the comments always add other perspectives, so I recommend reading them, too.

Thus, it is currently not known 'how much to eat' of kale or any other food as a recommendation to any one person for any one situation or 'health goal', and frankly, I don't expect that information to ever really available or even necessary. While it might seem 'snazzy' in this day of 'apps' available for nearly everything we want to know and know fast, to get to that point would require millions and millions and millions of dollars for technological research within a mind-set and supported by an industry that promotes 'nutrition reductionism'.

My mind-set and bottom-line regarding 'how much to eat' is to go back several steps to the basics just like Michael Pollan's catchy phrase summarizes: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants".

Here is what I would add to Mr. Pollan's mantra:
1) Grow as much food as possible. A basil plant on a windowsill is great! So is growing kale within your landscaping. One of my son's did this at his apartment complex.

2) Cook (prepare at home from food ingredients) as much of your meals as possible.

3) Don't go 'overboard' on any one food, including kale. One serving per day, 5-7 days per week is just great and likely 'enough' within a diet that has a wide variety of foods.

4) Try eating new foods. There are multiple Brassica vegetables in addition to kale, but seek out other new foods or varieties, too. For example, we are growing 42 varieties of garlic this year, all of which have different characteristics, meaning different 'bio-active constituents' that, guess what?, influence taste besides influencing metabolic function in the body.

5) ENJOY food. I cannot emphasize this enough. Please don't only think of food as 'functional medicine'.

I cannot end without adding that I hope you will seek out food raised organically and as much as possible that is raised organically by your local farmers, plus I hope that you will find some niche/passion/action to help provide 'good food for all' in whatever way you can, wherever you live.

Good food, local food, organic food is not elitist but a fundamental right for all people.

Where kale is apparently far more than just decoration on my plate. :-)

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kale and other Brassica seed recommendations

You can see it has been a long time since i posted on my kale blog. Moving is so much harder and time-consuming than I expected it to be! I've made a few posts on my www.dianadyer.com blog to keep people up to date on the chaos in our life as we finally are moving out to the farm, but it is time I added some great kale info here.

Fortunately for me and you, I was so exhausted tonight that I needed to 'veg out', and one way that I do that is catching up on my friends' blogs. Voilá! I hit the jackpot finding a post that shares recommendations for kale seeds along with seeds for many other Brassica vegetables.

Someday I'll be able to do this myself, but for the past two years, we have lived in chaos as we have been starting our garlic farm and repairing everything in the house at the farm.

So when I finally get moved and unpacked (and all the work is done at our other house to get it ready to sell), I'll be looking at Emily's post "Cabbage, Kale, and Broccoli Seed Review" to start making my own extended kale and Brassica garden. Check it out and feel free to add comments! Many thanks, Emily!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Green Kale Blog Shout-out!

All things green are being celebrated in recipes for upcoming St. Patrick's Day, including a "shout-out" for my kale blog in The Washington Post's Lean & Fit Newsletter. You do have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the newsletter, and then read all the way to the right, but there it is under "Tips for the Week - Being Well - Fighting Cancer with Kale", with a link directly to this blog.

How much fun is that?! A lot. :-)

Many thanks to The Washington Post for stumbling onto my blog and giving it "two green thumbs up"!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, especially on St. Patrick's Day!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Food, not pills

A study is finally underway that will study a whole diet of just healthy food, with no additional dietary supplements of any kind, on the progression of prostate cancer in those men diagnosed with an early "watchful waiting" stage of prostate cancer.

A new clinical trial at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center will evaluate whether or not a change in diet, reinforced with telephone counseling and exercise, can stop or delay the progression of prostate cancer.

“Ours is the first study to focus on changing the entire lifestyle rather than just giving the participants a supplement pill,” said J. Kellogg Parsons, MD, MHS, urologic oncologist at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.  “We focus on more vegetables, less meat, and comprehensive counseling which encourages a more active lifestyle.”

Participants in the Men’s Eating and Living (MEAL) Study will eat at least seven servings of colorful, strong-flavored produce per day, with an emphasis on cruciferous vegetables and tomato products, as well as whole grains, beans or other legumes, and fruit.  “Evidence in previous studies suggests that a diet high in vegetable intake and low in meat and fat intake may decrease the risk of prostate cancer progressing or even beginning,” said Parsons.

Eligible participants are males up to 80 years old, who have been diagnosed with non-aggressive prostate cancer within the last two years, are in the early stages, and have not yet received treatment of any kind.

For more information on the MEAL study, please call 858-822-2895.

Thankfully, these study participants are not simply being told by their oncologist to "eat right and exercise", whatever that might mean, as I was back in 1995, when there was much less awareness and information, let alone research, about how diet may optimize the odds for long-term cancer survivorship.Thankfully, research dollars are finally being used to do the studies needed to help the 12 million (and growing) cancer survivors in the US alone have helpful information to live longer, healthier, and productive lives after their cancer treatments are completed.

If you are not in the San Diego area and/or (hopefully) aren't even eligible for this study, why wait to "sign up" for a healthy diet that includes more healthy whole foods like kale and the full list of other Brassica vegetables that are delicious and also provide health-promoting compounds?

General good advice is still 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
Serving sizes are the following amounts:
raw = ~1 cup,
cooked = ~1/2 cup,
juice = ~1/2 cup,
dried = ~1/4 cup

In addition, while this blog focuses on and encourages consumption of kale and other Brassica vegetables, variety, variety, variety is important in order to consume as many as possible of the thousands of health-promoting molecules in plant foods on a daily basis. I do not encourage eating a "gigantic bowl" of raw kale every day as a staple of your diet or counting that unusually large amount as 5 servings (or whatever) of your total daily fruit and vegetable intake.

Science understands only the tip of the iceberg in regards to how all of these thousands of plant molecules interact together (i.e. synergistically, meaning 1+1=3) in our body to promote good health. Don't cut yourself short by only focusing on a few of the great ones. In addition, they all add interest and flavor to our diet, which should be the main reason we eat, to enjoy our delicious food, not only to think of our food as "medicine".

Three cheers for kale and all its relatives. I'll bet all the men in this study are going to want a recipe for kale chips, a food that is interesting, flavorful, delicious, and also healthy.  Who could ask for anything more? To be honest, I'll bet all these men are signing up with hopes of full arrest, even reversal, of their early stage prostate cancer, too. I could not agree more and hope for the same right along with them. In the meantime, I hope they enjoy expanding their food boundaries to include more Brassica vegetables on a regular basis. They can rely on this blog for delicious recipes!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Thickets of cruciferous vegetables"

........ is such a lovely image and my favorite line from the following article The Billionaire who is Planning his 125th Birthday in The New York Times Magazine this weekend. I believe a description of what is planted in his greenhouse for personal consumption, which includes that great cruciferous thicket image, is on page 4 of the on-line edition.

It is always enlightening to read comments written by readers of articles in the New York Times. There is no perfectly written article (I saw something about vitamin D that I would have worded differently), and people always have widely varying opinions (and quibble) about foods, diets, aging, and rich people, all expressed in the comments I took the time to skim through. However, this most unusual man is choosing to spend a good deal of his money for research that will lead the future understanding of how foods (better studies would be evaluating whole diets, not just individual foods or molecules) affect the aging process and health promotion.

In a very small way dollar-wise, the endowment I have established at The American Institute for Cancer Research is doing the same thing by using proceeds I have donated from the sale of my book A Dietitian's Cancer Story to fund research focused on nutritional strategies that improve the odds for long-term cancer survivorship and/or increased quality of life for cancer survivors. I don't have the lofty goals of hoping that I or other cancer survivors reach the page of 125 through research funded by my endowment, but I do confess that I have humbly asked the universe to kindly consider giving me 40 more years since my husband and I have at least 40 years of projects we want to do on our new farm.

To tell you more, the first time I made this request (last year after purchasing our farm and getting a better handle of how much work was needed to turn this sadly neglected land (and home) into the productive organic farm we could envision), I asked the universe for 30 years, feeling that I was being too greedy to ask for 40 more years, and of course, by all conventional thinking, even asking for an additional 30 years of health good enough to keep working our farm would likely be considered a pretty outrageous request. After all, my husband and I had just turned 60 and you can do the math, 60 + 30 = 90 (outrageous) versus 60 + 40 = 100 (more outrageous!).

However, last summer I read where one of the vendors at Michigan's only all organic farmers' market had just turned 100. You can read about Jeannette Keiser here! Aha! I knew I was being too timid asking for only 30 years instead of the 40 years I really hoped for. And here was my inspiration to update my humble request to 40 years instead of only 30.Thanks, Jeannette. I hope to meet you someday.

I am very disappointed that the writer of this article did not probe to ask the billionaire's thoughts about the importance of organically raised foods to his overall plan of living to be 125. I have some speculation, but no info, so I won't make any comment.

However, our family plan is to continue to enjoy eating (please note that word 'enjoy'!) meals made with foods that are locally grown and organically grown (both as much as possible) while we wind our way along the pathway of our "encore careers" as organic farmers. I cannot begin to say we'll be given even one year, let alone 40 or more! However, we are committed to doing our little part in our local community for as long as we're able to connect the dots for everyone between healthy soil and healthy communities. Thus our 'tag line' for The Dyer Family Organic Farm is the following: "Shaping our future from the ground up", with the word "our" being very large to encompass all aspects of our community, not just our personal health or economic futures.

I'd like to end with a section of a poem by Wendell Berry that I recently read and copied. I think it is appropriate expression (and better than my own words) of what my husband and I are doing as we rebuild this land into our organic farm.

In Leavings: Poems by Wendell Berry 2010
from 2007, II, page 84

……….. With the land
again make common cause.
In loving it, be free.
Diminished as it is,
grant it your grief and care,
whole in heart, in mind
free, though you die or live.
So late, begin again.

Wendell Berry received the National Humanities Medal this week at The White House from President Obama, being given this high honor as a poet, novelist, Kentucky farmer, activist, conservationist, and author of more than 40 books, always exploring our relationship with the land and community. 

So yes, my husband and I are late starting our farm, but no matter, I am taking heart from the final line of this poem by Berry "So late, begin again." Nothing makes me happier, more 'whole in heart', no matter when I do die. :-)

"Where kale is more than decoration on my plate. It may even be in a thicket!"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD 

PS - These thoughts were very difficult to "tag" on my kale blog. Thus I will cross-post these thoughts on my dianadyer blog too, where I found myself tagging every other category.  So, apologies to those of you who regularly read both blogs.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kale and Paczki??

For at least one writer, this unlikely food pairing is a sure sign of spring. I encourage you to read the AnnArbor.com article Signs of Spring: Paczki and Kale by my good friend Kim Bayer (who also writes TheFarmersMarketer blog and has been a major inspiration for writing my own blogs).

Be sure to read the comments and look for the one that made me laugh!

Do I dare confess that I have lived in Michigan for 23+ years now and still not had a paczki? :-)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate (but probably not a filling for my first paczki)!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Kale starts to sweeten up in March"

.........but don't we all?" This is the best line from this simple stir-fry kale demonstration on YouTube by Jacqueline ODonnell, a chef at The Sisters Restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland!

A quick video encouraging kale consumption ("this is not your granny's brown cabbage" - another great line!). Worth a peek just to hear the chef's wonderful accent and the background music. (So sorry you have to endure the short advertisement before the kale demo.)

I stumbled on to this clip while browsing the web looking for a savory pie recipe using kale and garlic in the filling.

Now back to sorting through years and years of our 'stuff' and packing for the move (finally!) out to the farm, which should get done in March.  I can't wait to be moved and able to get back to really cooking again!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recipe: Slow-baked beans with kale (my version)

My last post pointed you to the recipe printed in the New York Times for Slow-baked Beans with Kale. I made it yesterday, tweaked it a little for what I had in the house, and the dish was delicious. Even my husband, who grew up with canned baked beans each Friday night (and also grew up to hate baked beans), enjoyed this recipe. It was a risk for me to make baked beans, but I felt confident that this dish would not be the same as what he knew and still intensely dislikes (which is really rather amazing as my husband LOVES food!).

Here is my recipe and some photos:

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale, stemmed and washed in two changes of water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1/2 yellow sweet pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 # white beans, picked over and soaked for at least four hours and drained (I soak over-night and then do a quick boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes with a piece of Kombu before draining to help reduce the gas forming propensity of beans)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste, dissolved in 1 cup water
4 cups additional water
1-2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup (I used grade D maple syrup from a local source)
Salt (scant or to taste) and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper


Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the kale. Blanch for two minutes, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain, squeeze out water and cut into ribbons. Set aside. (See my photos of this process below - I will try skipping this step next time.)
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large ovenproof casserole. Add the onion, carrots pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the dissolved tomato paste, and bring to a simmer.
3. Add the drained beans, the remaining water, maple syrup, salt and pepper.. Stir in the kale, bring to a simmer, cover and place in the oven. Bake 3-5 hours until the beans are tender and creamy. Taste and adjust salt and/or sweetner.


Note: Make sure that the beans come to a simmer on top of the stove before placing them in the oven. Do not use old beans, which will not soften no matter how long you simmer them. If the beans do not soften in the oven after a couple of hours, raise the heat to 300 degrees. If you live at a high altitude, raise the oven temperature and let the the beans bake for longer.

Yield: Serves 10-12.

(Photo: Vegetables and traditional bean pot)

 (Photo: Blanching the kale - first I removed the large tough stems and chopped the kale leaves - then blanched the chopped kale in boiling water inside a colander in the smaller pan in front on the left, transferring to the colander in the stockpot on the right containing ice water, then draining the cooled kale and transferring to the large stock pot in the back on the left. Repeat, repeat. This back and forth was way too cumbersome, so next time I will blanch whole leaves first in a big pot, transfer to a sink filled with ice water, and then chop (like the original directions said to do). However, I may even skip this step entirely next time to see if it makes any difference in final taste and texture of the kale.)

 (Photo: Kale, beans, etc in the large stock pot heating up before transferring to an oven-proof baking container.)


(Photo:  Beans etc transferred to the bean pot. This whole recipe needed a second dish, too. Cutting the recipe in half would fill this bean pot just perfectly.)

 (Both pots almost ready to go into the oven.)

 (Photo: Both pots in the oven, complete with their lids. Although I intuitively thought I should cover these pots, I had to read the original recipe 3 times to see where it said to cover them!)

These are great hot, warm, room temperature, and also cold! I have already sampled them at each stage, including right out of the refrigerator for breakfast this morning. :-)

Another great way to use a bunch of kale! Enjoy. :-)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, including Super Bowl Sunday!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kale for the Super Bowl

This past week, I've had several other food bloggers post comments on my kale blog, so I think the enthusiasm for kale is continuing to perk right along without slowing down. If I had had any doubts about that, today I saw that a recipe for Slow-Baked Beans with Kale is in the #2 spot for "most emailed articles" on the New York Times.

This easy, hearty (for these cold, snowy, icy days so many of us have right now!), and delicious sounding recipe sounds like a perfect dish for a Super Bowl Sunday gathering. I'm just back from a vacation in Seattle (where 49 degrees felt like summer, even on the moist days), so it's time to stock up on fresh vegetables again like "4-season kale" from our local Farmers' Market on Saturday morning.

I'm not sure what else we'll make/serve/eat or even what we are doing on that day, but I'm going to check my pantry shelves and then get any missing ingredients to start making these beans.

The #1 emailed article right now is Mark Bittmann's Food Manifesto for the Future. I would guess that most people seeking out more info about kale (and thus have landed at my kale blog) will find themselves nodding in agreement with the ideas he is presenting in this article. For those who have been actively reading and changing their diets over the past several years to contain more local and sustainably grown foods (and food that is recognizable as food instead of processed food-like substances), there is not much if anything that is new. However, the article is a very good summary of many points of concern and call to action for our government, industries, and individuals. Bittmann does not specially call out for organically grown foods nor does he specifically urge people to start growing their own foods, two additional points I would have made, but his overall messages clearly point the way to an agriculture and food system that is sustainable. I do urge you to take a minute to read the article and think about what may be new for you and what may be the next step you can take to "vote with your fork" for the world you want to see.

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, even on Super Bowl Sunday!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, January 7, 2011

Another Kale Blog Shout-out

A recent article "365 days of everything: daily creative projects" published in the on-line newspaper AnnArbor.com highlighted blogs that are focusing on doing something every day of the year, i.e. all 365 days. I appreciated having this blog included! Even though I don't post everyday (far from it), the goal of my blog is to provide information and inspiration for myself and my readers to eat some kale or any of its many delicious Brassica relatives every day of the year.

Never fear. There is no need to eat that full grocery-bag of kale that you just picked up at your local farmers' market in one sitting, although it is surprising how that much kale could easily be reduced to a large bowl of kale chips and also how quickly those chips could be consumed. Choose a variety of my recipes to try over the next week or so, even including freezing some of the kale if you really are the lucky recipient of a windfall per se!

One reader recently asked for my favorite kale recipe. Oh dear, that would be like choosing a favorite among your children! Simply impossible. :-) However, here are 5 that I make over and over again, in no particular order.
  1. Garlic Kale Sweet Potato Soup
  2. Kale Chips
  3. Spicy Lentil Kale Sweet Potato Patties
  4. Kale 3-Bean Salad
  5. Garlic Scape Kale Pesto
My husband and I have been traveling for the past week, and I found that I really missed eating kale and other Brassica vegetables on a daily basis. The first thing I did after getting home last night was to make a big salad from local hoop-house spinach and radishes along with some cabbage and a bit of salad greens. No kale, but both cabbage and radishes are Brassicas and so are an acceptable stand-in for kale. Wow, did that taste good. After politely asking my husband if he wanted a second helping, I eagerly finished it up.

I send best wishes for a happy and healthy 2011, filled with kale and other delicious Brassica vegetables and whatever you enjoy doing each of the 365 days of the coming year!

Where kale continues to be more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD