Monday, December 31, 2012

Ring in New Year's Luck with Kale!

There are dozens and dozens (if not more) traditions from around the world about foods to eat on New Year's Day to bring good luck during the next year. Here is a great article listing many of these practices by food group, including a comment that kale is eaten with cinnamon and sugar on New Year's Day in Denmark, which I did not know.

So, I'll save a few kale leaves to do that (for an unusual dessert!) in addition to my plans for tomorrow (New Year's Day) to include kale in place of spinach in the following recipe for Garlic Soup with Spinach that was recently published in the New York Times.

Yum, yum! Already I can't wait to try both of these new ways to eat kale. I'll get recipes and photos later, but I wanted to give anyone reading this tonight a head's up for some foods to eat tomorrow to bring good luck during all of 2013!

Where kale is certainly more than decoration on my plate since eating it brings good luck on New Year's Day!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Just for Fun - A Kale Tree

Some day I'll be this clever! In the meantime, enjoy this kale-holiday tree made by my good friends at Frog Holler Farm. It brings the biggest smile to my face! 
Happy Holiday to all my readers with best wishes for a peaceful and kaleful 2013!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate. It's a gorgeous holiday decoration in the fields, too!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Just for fun - kale in the lawn

Yes, kale is this easy to grow!


From spilled seeds - I love it! There is another photo on the blog showing this kale plant later in the season, where it is has been mowed around.

A friend sent me this blog because there is a recipe for garlic cookies on it !! Yes, I am going to try them, maybe even a batch with finely chopped kale plus garlic. Hey, it's just for fun!

Where kale grows in lawns, and not just for decoration,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, December 7, 2012

Recipe: Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad

"Shredded Brussels sprouts salad" almost sounds like a bona fide tongue twister, but even if you cannot say that quickly (over and over again), even if you never have liked eating Brussels sprouts and still think you won't like them, I almost guarantee that you will eat this salad with enjoyment.

I say that as someone who had to be re-introduced to eating and developing a taste for enjoying Brussels sprouts as an adult. Brussels sprouts were one of those foods that I did not care for (hated!) as a child, and that memory and aversion just carried along into adulthood when I could make my own food selections. I can (sort of) admit now that my kind husband might have even (sort of) 'shamed' me into eating them after we got married. In any case, I love them now, cooked in milk or roasted, so I am happy to find a new way to use them.

I don't know why I had never before thought of eating them raw or shredding them into a salad. However here is the perfect way to combine those two thoughts for a delicious and beautiful Fall salad, thus, introducing Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad!

~ 2 dozen fresh Brussels sprouts (best after the growing plant has been through a good frost) - this amount is flexible
A small bunch of kale or arugula
A small handful of any fresh herbs that still might be growing in your garden (I included some parsley, dill, anise, rosemary, mint, cilantro)
Garnish - a handful of pomegranate seeds

Wash Brussels sprouts carefully, trim off bottom edge, save clean leaves that may fall off and then shred with sharp knife into narrow slivers
Coarsely chop the kale/arugula (I remove and compost the tough stems) and herbs
Mix all vegetables together

Lightly toss with a vinaigrette - I made a simple one with lemon juice, a bit of mustard, olive oil, and a touch of sweetener, which was just the best!

2 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
touch of salt
touch of sweetener (I used 1/2 teaspoon of some roasted garlic jelly)
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Shake or whisk until blended

This is more than enough dressing for the salad, so either save some for another salad or be ready to 'sop up' the dressing at the bottom of the salad bowl with some bread (yes - I do this).

After adding the dressing to the salad, sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on top for a beautiful, delicious, and healthy garnish. They are in season and in the grocery stores right now, so be sure to pick some up while you have the chance to enjoy them. I do have a friend whose family always buys a bushel or two at this time of year, puts on their oldest clothes, spends an afternoon de-seeding them, freezes the seeds, washes the table, walls, floor and themselves, and then fixes dinner and has a family party. Sounds like fun to me. :)

Other possible additions to this salad: diced avocado, sliced green onions, toasted chopped almonds seasoned with garlic powder, and on and on. This salad is hefty enough to have many foods complement the taste and texture of the Brussels sprouts.

Here are a few photos. Have fun - I hope you enjoy Brussels sprouts for the first time or in a new way.

Shredding the Brussels sprouts

Approximately half of the shredded Brussels sprouts

Adding other ingredients, including the dressing and the pomegranate seeds

Close up photo of the Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad

Brussels sprouts are healthy cousins of ultra-healthy kale. Throw in some kale, avocados, fresh herbs, almonds, olive oil and who knows what else. You then have a Fall salad that is chock-full of molecules that are considered biggies on the health-promoting list. However, of course, a 'healthy' food is only healthy if you eat it, so it also MUST be delicious. You've got it here. This salad is delicious so enjoy it!

Where kale (and Brussels sprouts) are way more than just decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kale growing again after late night deer feast

We actually had time (and warm weather) to clean up our family garden this past week after finally getting all of our 2013 garlic into the ground and mulched. Here are a few updated photos of our kale:

Our cleaned up family garden with the remaining three kale plants in the middle of the photo. The 60+ dead heirloom tomato plants plus the 2011 corn stalks are finally pulled out! And my husband is finally grinding the dried corn from the 2011 corn and making corn bread - delicious!! - far superior to any cornmeal or cornbread mix in the stores.  

The curly kale that the deer topped and ate most of the side leaves. You can see where the kale leaves are starting to grow back, little leafy nubs where each leaf was previously. Interesting, as I was cleaning up, I found tiny leaves perfectly intact on the ground. I wondered if the deer spit them out, but my husband wondered if they were just sloppy or clumsy chewers! 

The large and beautiful Red Russian kale plant that we will feast on for several weeks still, even with a bit of snow predicted for tomorrow morning. 

Close-up view of the Red Russian kale with rain drops from the short rain shower the night before this photo was taken the next afternoon. I was surprised by how long these drops lasted! 

The Lacinato kale variety was the one plant that was completely demolished by the deer. There was no post-mortem photo of it. The solar-powered battery that powers the electric fence around our family garden failed, leading to the brazen and successful attempt to crash over (through) the fence. Thankfully the battery was still under warranty with the replacement 'in the mail'. Of course my husband still needs to replace the missing fence, just one of the many winter projects on the list. :)

I had a fleeting thought about naming our farm The 365 Day Farm, but even I thought that might sound a bit overwhelming, and I want to be here! (PS - we did take Thanksgiving Day off, so I guess we could say we are The 364 Day Farm). But wait, if we do get chickens, geese, and goats, there is no 'day off' so we would be back to The 365 Day Farm. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, 365 days of the year!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, November 23, 2012

Brassica Biology!

In case I have to confess (i.e., in case you have not noticed or come to your own conclusions), I am an unabashed science geek meaning that in addition to loving to taste, eat, and share recipes about kale (and its many Brassica cousins), I love knowing 'all things science' about kale and nearly everything else, from its nutrient and phytochemical contents to its health benefits, including all about how it grows or doesn't grow well and even how it affects the growth of other plants.

I don't have time to post everything I read about (or the questions I ask myself), but I just had to share a blog I found this morning (from finally reading some of my kale alerts) along with some posts on this blog about, what else?, Brassica vegetables.

I love having a background in both biology and nutrition, but somewhere in-between those two college degrees, my husband taught me how to cook, how to taste food, how to grow food, and (deep, dark confession here!) how to really, truly love and enjoy food, all foods as food, not just as biology and nutrients (he also has one degree in biology but has been way ahead of me, and way ahead of the current curve, of re-thinking nutrition to emphasize foods - d'oh! - not just nutrients), so how lucky am I?? Answer - I am both very lucky and very grateful. :) :)

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am very thankful for the readers of my kale blog (~1,000 of you are visiting this blog every single day of the year, even holidays - who would have guessed?!) and I want to share this great blog I just found called "The Botanist in the Kitchen - where botany meets the cutting board", along with their recent posts about Brassica vegetables. I have actually printed these posts out so I can read them in big print, at my leisure, underlining, making notes, adding sticky notes with questions, ideas for my own growing, projects for students, and blogging, etc, etc (I told you I love kale and other Brassicas and that I am a 'geek').  Here is the main blog and the three recent Brassica posts:

A repeat photo of my 'baby kale', now more like teen-aged kale and other spicy salad greens like arugula, mustards, baby bok choi, my two parsleys, and even some 'still hanging in there' nasturtiums. Today my baby greens may be experiencing the true end of summer (haha) as yesterday's very very unseasonable 60+ degree day on Thanksgiving Day dives down to the 30's complete with a stiff wind from the north bringing both snow and sleet. We had a very lovely home-grown Brassica salad for our Thanksgiving meal yesterday, which could not have been more local or fresher, with even my mother commenting on how beautiful and tasty these greens were.

All hale kale! I hope some of you enjoy reading the other articles I found (above) as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Re-elect Kale!

A friend sent this to me, sent to her by her mother. I have no idea where this campaign sign is proudly stuck into someone's yard.

I remember when I first signed up for 'kale alerts', I was surprised to see many of the articles picked up were because someone's last name was Kale, a new awareness to me. Most of these articles were from India, but certainly not all. I have also seen articles where a person's first name is Kale, again something new for me.

So good luck to Kale. I hope you're promoting 'Eat More Kale!' plus advocating for the many benefits to your community from locally-grown organic foods. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate - it's a re-election campaign!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Don't have spinach? Use kale!

I love sharing recipes with my sons and daughters in law. Here is one that is now a 'go to' recipe for my younger son and his wife. However, the recipe calls for spinach (don't have), chickpeas (don't have), tomato sauce (don't have), and red wine vinegar (don't have). Does that stop me from trying a great sounding recipe when a friend is coming over for dinner? LOL - no, not at all.

So here is how I took the actual recipe for espinacas con garbanzos and made my own substitutions:


• 2 - 15 ounce cans of chickpeas, drain, rinse (I substituted pre-cooked cannellini beans I had in the freezer - use any beans you have on hand)
• 6 Tbsp. olive oil (I am sure I used less than this amount)
• 1 pound spinach, washed (I used one large 'bunch' of kale from our garden, a mixture of varieties, wash, shake dry, strip away tough stems, and then cut into smallish pieces)
• 1 smallish onion, peeled, cut into wedges
• 2 slices whole grain bread, cut away crusts (I didn't do this) and cut into small cubes (the original recipes calls for 2.5 ounces or 75 grams - I did not weigh my bread)
• 1/2 cup tomato sauce (use it if you have it - I used 3 slices of dried tomatoes and ~1/2 vegetable broth)
• 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I didn't have this either but I had some already toasted cumin seeds so I used these instead)
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• 1-1/2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (I am out of that so I used balsamic vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (no options here - this ingredient is a must!)
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper (I used a little bit of each)
• Lemon juice to taste (I didn't bother with this)

Well, now that I can see all that I didn't do (highlighted in blue), I realize that I probably created a totally new recipe. However, my hope is that you see how flexible most recipes are, and that with a few things on hand for reasonable substitutions, dinner can be created from what you have available.


1) Place a large saucepan (I used a soup pot) over medium heat and add 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil.
2) Add the onion and let sizzle for a few minutes
3) Add the kale and stir well, remove kale and onions when leaves are cooked but still bright green, I transferred the kale to a large bowl so I could add back any liquid at the end
4) Add ~1 Tbsp. olive oil to a small frying pan (next time I will just use the big soup pot I cooked the kale in) and fry the bread cubes for ~5 minutes until it is golden brown.
5) Then add the garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Cook for only ~1 minute more until the garlic is toasted but not dark brown.
6) Transfer the bread and spices to a small food processor (or you may use a mortar and pestle to smash all this together), add the dried tomatoes and the vinegar and grind until like a paste. Add a little of the 1/2 cup of vegetable broth if necessary to mix it all together.
7) Return this mixture to the large pot and add the drained beans (or chickpeas) and remaining broth (or tomato sauce). Stir until the beans have absorbed the flavors and are hot.
8) Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
9) If the consistency is still a little thick, add a bit of water (or more broth if you have some on-hand).
10) Finally add back the kale and heat everything over medium heat until it is all hot again.

I served this delicious, beautiful, easy, one-pot meal over some rice I had cooked the day before along with some home-made tomato soup (using up many of our now ripening tomatoes that were picked green before our killing frost a week ago or so), and some whole grain bread made by a friend.

Both my husband and a friend eating with us that night thought this was a great dinner. I did too and will definitely make this recipe again, maybe even getting around to using chickpeas and spinach!

The chopped kale and garlic, cooked and set aside

The beans with the bread/herb/tomato mixture before adding back the kale and reheating. 

I repeat, the smoked paprika is a 'must'. Find a store that sells it in bulk for the best price of this amazing spice, as you will find yourself using is a lot!

This meal is filled with health-promoting molecules, but I'll make this recipe again because it is so delicious. Yum, yum, yum!!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yep, there it is!

500,086 visits as of this morning. :) Thank you everyone for both coming to this blog and coming back. You inspire me to keep eating, thinking, and writing about kale (and its healthy cousins).

Here are a few photos I took yesterday and had time to download while watching the Detroit Tigers get their clock cleaned last night - yikes - well it is only Game 1.

I know this is difficult to see, but there is a major !! gap in the electric fence. Yes the deer crashed through it, which led to the photo below.

Hmmm, I was actually looking at the celery (not pictured) when I saw - yikes! - deer hoof prints in the garden. I looked up to see that open fence (above) and then looked to my left to see - yes, oh darn - my beautiful Lacinato kale plant 'topped'! The regular curly kale to its left has had about 20 of its succulent top leaves eaten, but the Red Russian kale variety was ignored entirely. You can also see we still have a lot of work to do to clean up our garden, both from this year, and admittedly from last year. There is always next year to get things done. :)

We did get a kitchen herb garden installed this year right outside the back of the house by the garage. This is a photo of the mostly dead nasturium in the lower left corner (even covering it up the night of the hard frost was not enough) and then curly and flat parsley and lettuces by the stone walk with my little hedge of baby kale and bok choy and spinach behind them. I do cover them up, too, when we have frosts and they keep chugging away. The basil is completely dead, but the mint keeps going without being covered up so far. 

Hard to see, but there are two rows of rutabagas surrounded by the straw mulch. I have mentioned before that rutabagas are my husband's favorite vegetable (he also loves spinach and beets and has been like this since childhood!). They will continue to grow slowly and will be harvested for our Thanksgiving dinner. 

Now back to garlic planting. Today is a perfect day, clear, no wind, in the 70's, so we had better make hay while the sun shines so to speak, and try to get at least another 1000 in the ground, hopefully more! If you are interested in following our garlic farm's updates, they can be seen on Facebook. Facebook posts can also be seen on the homepage of our farm's website where you can also sign up for our farm's newsletter (done for the season, but you'll know when we get started up again early next year). 

Thanks again for coming to my kale blog. Maybe next year we'll get organized enough to sell kale at the farmers' markets along with our amazing 40 varieties of garlic!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate - it is also a deer delicacy!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Today is Food Day - Eat Kale!

I rarely pay attention to my blog stats, but I happened to notice that this blog is very close to reaching the 1/2 million mark (500,000) of viewers. With the count right now being ~499,400 (I have already forgotten the actual count and don't want to take the time to go back to look at it), and knowing this blog averages 1,000 viewers each day, I expect today is the day that it will go over 1/2 million.

Who would have guessed? Not I. I was already blogging about food and other topics at my dianadyer blog. However, knowing my love for 'all things kale', my friends from the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers group nudged me to start a blog just for kale. I had my 'tag line' already but felt 'stuck' with the rest. In just a moment of brainstorming during a Christmas cookie exchange in 2008, one of them came up with my blog title and another with the calendar logo, so then the rest was up to me.  In other words, they told me "No more excuses, start writing!"

I wish I had more time to write. I don't even have time anymore (farming comes first and is never done!) to read all the 'alerts' I get from the internet for articles published world-wide that include the words 'kale', 'brassica', and 'cruciferous. I also have an alert set for 'garlic', and I don't read that either!

I won't know which one of you will be the viewer who puts this blog over that mark (which is not a finish line - and is probably 'nothing' compared to enormously popular blogs - but is just a marker along the way for the many more years to come when I plan to keep writing here), but I thank you, and I also thank all my viewers for checking in here and continuing to come back to see what is new.

'Tis the season to enjoy kale and all other Brassica vegetables. I hope you do just that on Food Day and lots of other days of the year, too!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Baby brassicas

Here is the abstract from a study evaluating the content of various phytochemicals thought to have health-promoting activity in a variety of newly sprouted Brassica greens. Eight days after sprouting seems to be when this study found the highest quantity of these molecules, but no testing was done for taste acceptance at eight days versus any other time. There is always a next step in research and knowledge.

My bed of 'baby brassicas' is WAY over the 8-day mark but that does not mean these plants are not worth eating. I snack on them every time I pass by, yes they are getting big and crowded, and they are still growing well even as we head into the colder and darker days of Fall here in the upper Midwest.

We also have a salad nearly every night made from a mix of various lettuces, spinach, and the baby (maybe now teen-age) Brassica mix!

With kale being so 'sexy' now here in the US, I am surprised that no kale varieties were part of this experiment.

I'll be asking my local farmer friends who sell baby salad greens (including kale) at the farmers markets how many days past germination they target harvesting and what factors come into play to make this decision. Just out of curiosity, not as a discriminator in my decision if or not to purchase.

The 'taste test' really should be done next. :) I'll sign up! Hmmm, I'm also thinking of more possibilities than signing up. Ok, now I really need an intern!!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Here is the abstract:

 2012 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print]

Selecting sprouts of Brassicaceae for optimum phytochemical composition.


Cruciferous foods (Brassicaceae spp.) are rich in nutrients and bioactive compounds. Edible sprouts are becoming popular fresh foods and therefore, the phytochemical profiling of 9 varieties of Brassicaceae (broccoli, kohlrabi, red cabbage, rutabaga, turnip, turnip greens, radish, garden cress and white mustard) was evaluated for this purpose. The glucosinolates in seeds were significantly higher than in sprouts and the day 8 of germination was considered the optimum for consumption. The sprouts with higher concentrations of glucosinolates in 8-day old sprouts were white mustard, turnip and kohlrabi (~815 mg100 g-1 F.W., ~766 mg100 g-1 F.W. and ~653 mg100 g-1 F.W., respectively). Red cabbage and radish presented great total glucosinolates content (~516 mg100 g-1 F.W. and ~297 mg100 g-1 F.W., respectively in 8 day-old sprouts) and also higher total phenolic contents, biomass and antioxidant capacity. The selection of the best performers in terms of germination quality and phytochemical composition is the key to optimize new fresh and rich foods, enriched in health bioactive compounds. Further research of bioavailability of the bioactive compounds in Brassica foods will allow to backed recommendations for dietary effective dosages for nutrition and health.

Friday, October 5, 2012

"Kale to the Victors"

Another moment when you can picture me slapping my forehead saying "Why didn't I think of that?". Sigh.......really, I wish I was clever with words, but I guess I need to depend on others and then enjoy pointing out their creativity.

Here is the slogan and the great logo (below) for the University of Michigan's new Sustainable Food Program along with the link to the article about its upcoming Harvest Festival being held at the new University of Michigan Student Farm.
Just in case you need a little clue about why I think the use of the term "Kale to the Victors" is so clever, the first line of the chorus to the University of Michigan's fight song is "Hail! to the victors valiant". 

Admittedly, the University of Michigan is playing 'catch up' compared to many other academic institutions across the country (large and small), but coming in late in the game is better than never playing and may even provide an opportunity for the UofM to lessen the learning curve when introducing and building a program this innovative and important within the university and health care system. 

Over the years, I have highlighted other clever uses of the word kale under the tag 'Just for fun', which I did for this post also. I do love how people come up with these phrases as much (maybe more) than the next person. However, this logo and the efforts at the University of Michigan (and other universities and colleges) for which this logo was designed are really far more important than 'just for fun'. 

I haven't done much blogging at all for the past 6 months during 'garlic season', but if you comb through my blog, you will see many of my posts address the urgent need for and the multiple benefits that come from local sustainable agriculture and food systems. 

So, thank you Liz Dengate (logo designer), for creating this logo that will help 'catch' people's attention (at least in Michigan and among UofM alumni world-wide) and interest in learning more about and participating in and advocating for the multiple efforts needed to make the switch to an agriculture and food system that will lead to healthier communities. 

Full disclosure: I live in Ann Arbor, but I am not a UofMichigan alum. However, as a citizen living in Michigan, I do support these new programs at the UofM. I also support the long-standing Student Organic Farm at Michigan State University, the CS Mott Center for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU, and all other efforts across Michigan that are providing education and 'hands in the soil' experience about food and sustainability that are necessary to create and nourish healthy communities. 

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate - it's now part of a logo! Gotta love it :)

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, September 3, 2012

Too Funny! A Must Read :)

Ok - I confess. I am wasting time (not much, just 10 minutes or so) when I should be 'laboring' on Labor Day to get our garlic ready for tomorrow's market (and the 3 others we attend each week). What did I do for this brief indulgence?

First of all, I came to my own kale blog, which (I also confess) I miss writing for very much. I browsed around for 1-2 minutes.

Second (here is the real confession), I went to Google and typed in 'kale' to see what appeared on the first page of kale links. I had never done that before and was just curious. YES, oh my, be still my heart, there it is! Not the first link, not even in the top 5, but there is my kale blog, right on page 1 - wowza! Who would have guessed?? :)

Third, I just could not resist clicking on the link right next to mine that said something about 'an all kale diet'. Oh, it is just too funny! Here is where I spent the majority of my time (maybe 8 of those 10 minutes).

I'm serious, this is a 'must read'. As a dietitian, especially one who spent most of the hospital aspect of my career working in the intensive care units with people who could not actually eat food as we know it, I could not help but laugh until tears were streaming down my face at the reference to people getting kale juice IV's, with, of course, a splash of red wine vinegar to make it complete! I will ask for some myself if I am so unfortunate to be in that situation at some point in the future.

I could go on and on, but I want to stop so my kale fans can link to that article and have a good laugh yourself. Besides, my designated 10 minutes for 'wasting time' is well over now, and it's time for me to get out to the barn to finish up cleaning the garlic we are taking to the markets this coming week.

Yes, I will stop to pick some kale from our gardens along the way just to say 'All Hale Kale'!

Where kale continues to be much more than decoration on my plate. I want it in my IV's!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Where am I?

Someone just asked on a comment for my post on freezing kale "Do you post often on this blog?" I am shocked to see that my last post was in June..............shocked and sad, but the reality is that farming is a 36 hour per day job and blogging is the last thing I can do if I have time.

In the meantime, please feel free to (1) read everything already on my kale blog, (2) read my other blogs, and (3) follow our farm on Facebook (at The Dyer Family Organic Farm) as I can manage very short updates there.

Our kale is growing like crazy and I found a new variety (a hybrid) at a local farmers market. I promise that someday (hopefully soon) I will download some photos, get them cropped, get them labeled and then upload them to my blogs and also to our Facebook page.

In the meantime, really, I need to go to bed because tomorrow is another big, long, exciting day. :) :)

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

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Recipe: Great Northern Guac (with kale!)

I should say with kale and garlic scapes!! Nothing could be finer! I have not tried this recipe yet, but it came from a good friend who loves good food. In fact, I asked her for the recipe, telling her I would make her famous on my kale blog. :) 

Thanks, Rachel Chadderdon Bair. I tip my kale hat off to you for coming up with this great looking, great sounding, and I am sure, great-tasting new recipe!! I cannot wait to try it myself (since I still have a few garlic scapes hanging out in the frig and the fields!). 

Great Northern Guac (aka Faux-camole)

This recipe was born out of a combination of a surplus of garlic scapes and a desire to use my new pressure cooker. It came out tasting almost like an avocado dip- but cheaper and more local to the great northern climes. Quantities are imprecise and improvisation is encouraged. 


• 4 cups dry Great Northern beans or other white beans, cooked very soft (5 min in the pressure cooker) (if you want to use canned, 4 15-oz cans ought to do it)
• About 1/4 lb (4 cups chopped) garlic scapes, cut into manageable pieces
• 6 or so leaves of fresh kale, chopped
• About 3/4 cup olive oil
• About 1/2 cup lemon juice
• Salt to taste
• (other herbs or spices to taste - try chili powder and cilantro, or fresh mint and parsley)

Pulse scapes and kale, and fresh herbs if using, with a bit of the olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Scoop half of this paste out into another bowl so you can work in batches. Add half of beans  to processor and pulse, drizzling in oil and lemon until texture is how you like it. Add salt and dry spices to taste. Repeat with other half of ingredients, then blend the batches in a large bowl. Serve at room temperature with chips or crackers or crudités. 

Freezes well, as most bean dishes do. 

(Photo: Great Northern Guac – Rachel Chadderdon Bair)

Where kale (and garlic scapes) are more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, June 4, 2012

Add a fresh mint leaf!

Or two to your morning kale smoothie - that's all - no recipe - no photo - just 'wooza' taste that says 'it's summer'!!

Where have I been? Garlic scapes are being harvested 3+ weeks earlier than last year, so we are harvesting like crazy and suddenly attending four local farmers markets during each week 3+ weeks earlier than we had planned on doing. And we are still trying to actually get our own garden planted!

So there is not much time for blogging, but there is still time to let you know of this little simple taste discovery I made this morning.

Ahhh - minty-fresh!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, for sure!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rutabagas Rule

Well, maybe not rule, but rutabagas (one of the many Brassica vegetables I write about on this blog) are right up there in the running as a great food source for a molecule called apigenin, which has been shown to actually reverse an aggressive type of breast cancer in mice. I wrote about this study on my blog earlier this week and realized I should cross - post the study on my kale blog, too, even though apigenin is not in kale or other typical Brassica vegetables like broccoli.

Why? This type of research substantiates my advice to continue to eat a variety of whole foods (even rutabagas!, which are my husband's favorite vegetable). Why again? Because there is no one food, no one group of foods, and no one molecule in foods that will ever be the proverbial 'magic bullet'.

Not only is there more to learn about each food and/or each molecule, more importantly, we will never fully understand the complexity of biological interactions as these hundreds (if not thousands) of molecules consumed in our foods are working together synergistically to promote optimal functioning and health. 

Here is a chart showing which foods have apigenin and which foods contain other health-promoting compounds called flavonoids, of which apigenin is only one. (For comparative purposes, there are over 600 known carotenoids, of which beta-carotene found in foods like carrots is only one of them. Just think of the potential interactions going on in the body mixing just flavonoids and carotenoids!)

You can't go wrong by eating whole foods. Who knew even the leaves of Queen Anne's lace are a high source of apigenin? Next time I'm weeding them out of the garlic fields, I'll certainly look at them differently and even try to add some of the leaves to our salad that night!

Here is Dick's recipe for Glazed Rutabagas. :) You will notice that his blog should now be called "no time 4 blogging" instead of "no time 4 bland food". Something happened in 2009 - oh yes, we bought this foreclosed property and started this farm!! I give up sleep to blog. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate, along with the leaves from pesky garden weeds!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, May 10, 2012

'The kale's puckered sleeve'

Isn't that a beautiful image? I do believe this is the first time I have seen kale included in a poem. The line is from '6. The Garden' in the poem Rain by Mary Oliver. Here is the rest of The Garden:

The kale's
puckered sleeve,
the pepper's
hollow bell,
the lacquered onion.

Beets, borage, tomatoes,
Green beans.

I came in and I put everything
on the counter: chives, parsley, dill,
the squash like a pale moon,
peas in their silky shoes, the dazzling
rain-drenched corn.

I finally sorted my seeds (they have been stashed safely for the past three years) and figured out what we have to plant in our family garden this year. I save the Brassicas and heirloom beans, which I mostly grow for their dried beans. Here is a photo of the Brassica seeds on my dining room table. I am late planting this spring, but I'll get a little bit in now and save the rest for late summer-fall planting. 

I think Mary Oliver is referring to the Lacinato, or dinosaur, kale variety (lower left corner of the photo) when she uses the words 'The kale's puckered sleeve'. What do you think?

Which varieties have you planted already? 

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kale makes it into The Scotsman

A fellow long-term cancer survivor sent me the link to a Letter to the Editor she wrote that was published in The Scotsman earlier this month, highlighting kale. Her letter was edited to omit the name of and link to this blog, but pointing people to was her hope.

You should know that headline writers come up with the headlines, article and letter titles, and even the paragraph headers within an article, all designed to 'hook' you into an article, thus the deliberate use of the words like "cure" in the heading for this letter.

Here is both the link and the text:

'Curious Kale Cure'. 

How heartening to read that the Scottish Government is sponsoring research at the Aberdeen Rowett Institute into health benefits of cruciferous vegetables, including kale (your report, 5 April). 

Kale used to be one of the staple items of a Scottish diet, when meat was only rarely eaten by the vast majority, and yet in these years Scotland produced some of its most famous sons.

I was lucky enough as a child always to have a garden, and wherever we lived kale was grown, and frequently eaten.

It is a vegetable I have grown myself as an adult whenever I could, so was fascinated some years ago to come across an internet site extolling the health benefits of this humble vegetable.

It was written by a leading dietician on diet after cancer. She said kale is one of the best foods you can eat to optimise chances of good health at any time, and especially for those who have endured cancer treatments.

Caroline McManus
Newmills Road

In fact kale used to be so prevalent in Scottish kitchen gardens that the term 'kailyard' was synonymous with a cottage garden, and the term 'kale' even simply meant 'dinner'. 

So all hail kale, curious or not, a cure or not. Thanks, Caroline, for sharing the delicious and healthy news about eating kale in Scotland and upcoming research. I hope to visit your beautiful country again someday, the home to many of my ancestors. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Are nasturtiums a Brassica?

Oh I am so excited when someone reads the fine print so to speak on my blog and gives me feedback. :) I recently received a comment from a reader who read through my list of Brassica 'family members' and saw where I ended with 'What have I overlooked?' and wrote to tell me! Thank you!!

The two plants this reader mentioned were 1) mizuna, and 2) nasturtiums.

Mizuna - yes, yes, yes - Thank you! I will add this on my list of Brassica vegetables. I know I have a note somewhere on my desk, in my purse, in a file, oh somewhere that just says 'add mizuna', but without that note in front of me, it did not get done. While mizuna is usually sold as part of a baby greens salad mix, some specialty greens growers will have mizuna available to purchase by itself at a farmers market. It is very peppery and a little goes a long way adding Brassica flavoring to a fresh or wilted green salad or other recipe. Here is a website that shows lots of salad greens with a picture of mizuna.

Nasturtiums - hmmm - this made me do some digging (through the computer files, not in my garden) into Botanical Taxonomy. Here is what I found out. Nasturtiums (the flowers) belong to the Plant Order called Brassicales, which includes many Family sub-categories such as Brassicaceae (crucifers, mustards, etc) and Tropaeolaceae (Nasturtiums).

That separation makes the nasturtium flowers seem like cousin of the other Brassica vegetables, rather than a direct family member.

However, I was more interested in components of the nasturtium plant (leaves, flowers, seeds) knowing they are edible, as I began wondering if there are phytochemicals called glucosinolates in nasturtiums, too, like those found in the Brassica plants. Well, there are glucosinolates in nasturtium plant parts, different ones than those found in the other Brassica vegetables, but still potentially beneficial from a medicinal or health-promoting perspective, as this research article shows.

All of my quick study could have been completely confused and even derailed by the complications that always come up, such as the fact that watercress, a Brassica, has the official name of Nasturtium officinale! Good think I like to keep digging........ :)

So bottom lines: 1) I will add Mizuna to my list, but not nasturtium flowers. 2) Enjoy eating nasturtiums, the flowers, the seeds, and leaves, because they add beauty, interesting flavor, and likely a whole host of healthful molecules, including other types of glucosinolates, to our diets.

Variety, variety, variety is the spice of life!

Many thanks to my astute reader who was eager to share her knowledge with all of us. :)

Where kale, mizuna, and nasturtiums are all more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kale? No thanks!

i recently received the following comment and thought I would share it with my blog's readers because it brings up a good point for discussion, the fact that kale and other Brassica vegetables do have a bitter taste to them.

The taste of raw kale after blended, to me, is horrible; even when mixed
with fruit.  I thought it was something I was doing incorrectly, so I
blended the organic kale again by itself and the horrific level increase
to the point where, after taking the lid off of the blender to smell it,
the aroma burned my nostrils as well as my eyes.  After drinking the
juice/smoothie, I feel a bit nauseous.   However, eating raw organic kale does
taste far more pleasant than after blended its leaves.

I have only found one (1) instance of anyone telling the truth about how
bad kale tastes as a juice.

Is this normal for Kale to taste so horrible after blending/juicing.

Well, I am here to tell you that the first time I heard about anyone putting kale in a smoothie, I thought they were kidding or desperate for some way to include kale 'hidden' in their food because I could not imagine kale 'adding' something pleasant to the taste of a smoothie. And I am someone who does not like smoothies that are too sweet, which they all were in the very beginning of the smoothie craze, way back when. In fact, I am known for putting raw or frozen unsweetened cranberries in my smoothies to cut the natural sweetness of fruit or juices. 

The first time I did put kale into a smoothie (I had to have my curiosity finally overcome my inclination that the combination would be just awful), I must confess right here for all to know that I was also overwhelmed by the 'kale effect', i.e. the nearly over-powering and rather unpleasant smell of kale, when I took the top off the blender. Perhaps my reaction is what the reader's comments referred to. 

However, not one to throw food away, and still very curious, I poured the smoothie into a glass and let it sit a bit, which helped to diminish and even disperse the strong smell immensely. I even had the courage to taste the smoothie at that point and found that yes, I could definitely taste kale, but it was not overpowering or unpleasant, just very green. This was a long time ago, and now I just know that 1) I do not inhale deeply when taking the top off of my blender and 2) to wait a bit before drinking my kale smoothie. 

Other tips I have found to help with this situation:
1) Use less kale
2) Use baby kale
3) Use lacinato kale (this variety must have a lower level of glucosinolates or contain some other compound that counteracts the known bitterness of glucosinolates)
4) Use lightly steamed and cooled kale (I have done this with plain, no oil added, unseasoned left-over kale, which does not happen very often)

What is likely going on here is related to the fact that chemicals and sensitivity to them works both ways. Plants contain bitter molecules to keep themselves from being eaten so they can fulfill their biological destiny, meaning not get chewed to bits by insects or other animals before they have reproduced (gone to seed). We detect bitter or other 'off' (think rancid) flavors to protect ourselves so that we also can fulfill our biological destiny to the species, i.e. reproduce! 

Genes are involved with our taste sensitivities and it is now known that people with two copies of a certain gene will be 'super-tasters', i.e. more likely than others to not just dislike, but outright reject eating certain plants that contain bitter or astringent molecules, which are contained in all Brassica vegetables.  An article describing the details of this phenomenon is here. Remember President Bush I and his famous dislike of broccoli? He was likely a 'super-taster' with two copies of these particular genes involved with tasting bitterness. 

I hope this short response answers your question. I have tried to be as truthful as I know how, both professionally and personally. 

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate and is still in my smoothies, too!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Kale for a 'Kause'

Actually it is a Kalefest! In Santa Cruz on March 31, 2012, and yes it is for a good cause, a fund-raiser for the Homeless Garden Project. Admission is $5 and will include a kale recipe contest and a contest for the best kale bunch among other activities!

Here is the description of The Homeless Garden Project. If I lived anywhere near Santa Cruz, I would be there!

The Homeless Garden Project, founded in 1990, provides job training and transitional employment to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The programs offer trainees an opportunity to rebuild and develop basic life skills and a sense of worth as human beings. The Homeless Garden Project brings together people from throughout the community in the beauty and security of their certified organic garden, teaches principles of economic and ecological sustainability through classes and hands-on experience, and provides homeless men and women job training and transitional employment.

Does anyone else know of other festivals dedicated to kale? I like the fact that this festival is also a fund-raiser for a very worthy community-based need.

Hmmm, kale, garlic, kale AND garlic, yummm, ideas are always floating and percolating in the back of my mind.........and on my tastebuds! :) :)

Kale is definitely more than decoration on the plate at this KaleFest!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Even Starbucks Loves Kale!

It was just a matter of time before Starbucks expanded the pie, so to speak. According to this article, Starbucks has bought a company called Evolution Fresh, which specialized in smoothies and made-to-order freshly-squeezed juices, including, of course, kale! The first store is in Bellevue, WA, just east of Seattle.

Guess where I am going the first week of April? Yep, Seattle, for a short vacation before the growing season kicks into high gear (i.e., non-stop) for the next 8-9 months. I think I'll check out what may eventually make its way to the Midwest. The price of these drinks is enough to make them a special treat for me though, as spending $5-8 for a drink like this on a daily basis would be a budget-buster.

I think I'll order one with 4 straws, but I would be delighted to see something like this in airports. Oh, I momentarily forgot that I'm farming full-time now and rarely in airports anymore! Still, if these drinks are not too sweet, they could be a great delicious and healthy alternative to the typical sugar-sweetened soda that is so ubiquitous in airports and everywhere.

In the meantime, whip up your own smoothie or juice at home. I've given you the basics for DIY healthy smoothies with kale, for pennies on the dollar, too.

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate - now it comes with a straw!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cross-post -- getting close to 'launch'

I don't cross-post very often from my other blogs, but here is the scoop. I am getting close to having all my blogs and website (thus my brain!) under one umbrella at

No worries - if only kale brings you to my blogs, you will continue to only see those posts or that 'feed'.

Here is what I wrote on my dianadyer blog this morning. Now off for a break, getting outside to enjoy our spring weather (70's in the upper Midwest, even tho' it is still officially winter!), decide where my kale will be planted, get a bed ready for that, finish getting some more bluebird houses up, etc. etc. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Eat More Kale!

What can I say that this video doesn't say better? :) I wish I knew how to correctly spell the kale leaf's feelings about the eggplant!

The gauntlet has been thrown down in the form of a very talkative kale leaf!

Eat More Kale! Yes, what's next?

Where kale is still more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, March 12, 2012

Recipe: Baked Sweet Potato-Kale Falafel

So much kale, so many ways to adapt other recipes! Here is one where I easily substituted baby kale for spinach. Not that I don't love fresh spinach, but I prefer spinach where its sweet and distinctive taste can be highlighted and appreciated.

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel with Kale (Recipe adapted from

Yield: made about 30 patties (3-5 falafel per serving)


• 2 medium sweet potatoes (I baked 4 so I will have extra to use later in the week)
• 1 teaspoon dried cilantro (could also use ~3/4 cup fresh cilantro - or parsley if you have family members who are particularly sensitive to, i.e. really dislike!, the taste of cilantro, like my husband)
• 4 cups loosely packed fresh kale leaves (without any thick stems - use entire leaf if using baby kale)
• 4-6 cloves garlic or more to taste, peeled
• 1-1/2 cup garbanzo beans (~ 1-15 ounce can, well drained)
• 1 Tbsp. flour (I used whole wheat flour, you do not want the mixture to be 'wet')
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
• Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
• Salt - just a pinch
• Ground black pepper - just a few grinds
• 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
• About 2 tablespoons sesame seeds


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pierce sweet potatoes several times. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until just cooked but still firm. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh.'s directions said to discard the skins. No, no! Please either compost or feed to your dog!
2. Combine sweet potatoes, cilantro, kale, garlic, garbanzo beans, flour, cumin, coriander, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor or blender; process until well mixed. The texture can be somewhat chunky or smooth, depending on your preference.
3. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, allowing flavors to blend and mixture to become firm.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees as you begin Step 5. Lightly oil a baking sheet or use parchment paper. Remove sweet potato mixture and check its consistency. It should be sticky but not wet. If necessary, add a few more teaspoons of flour.
5. Using a spoon or your hands, form about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a ball. With the back of a spoon, flatten the ball into a thin disk with a concave top (I did not bother with this). Place on the baking sheet. Repeat for desired amount of servings, about 3-5 patties per person. (Extra sweet potato mixture can be refrigerated as long as several days and baked as needed or bake it all now, which is what I did, and then use left-overs for meals later in the week or freeze for much later use)
6. Brush each disk lightly with olive oil. Lightly sprinkle sesame seeds on top. If a crunchier texture is desired, turn disks over and sprinkle seeds on the other side as well, then turn again so the concave side faces up (I did not bother with this extra step).
7. Bake until bottoms are golden brown, 20-30 minutes (set timer for 20 minutes then keep checking the bottoms.) Centers should still be moist.
8. Serve inside pita pockets, topped with tomatoes (fresh if in season or use dried), lettuce, spinach, or shredded cabbage, tahini, plain yogurt, or other vegetables and sauces of your choice.

Special note: Make sure that the cilantro/parley and kale leaves are dried well before adding them to the food processor.

(Photo: Baked Sweet Potato-Kale Falafel with flat pita bread, shredded cabbage, plain yogurt sprinkled with sumac, topped with picked (oops correction - that should be pickled!) whole garlic scapes - yum, yum!!)
Later in the week, I used some of the remaining falafel patties crumbled on top of a warm salad: warmed up left-over brown rice topped with shredded greens, olives, other bits of left-over vegetables, and crumbled falafel patties. Pour a dressing made from a combination of olive oil, vinegar, and a small amount of yogurt over all. Easy and delicious fast food. :)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Recipe: Blueberry Kale Smoothie

This blueberry kale smoothie recipe is yet another variation on the basic recipe I posted earlier. The blueberries offer a strong pairing with kale, both providing a color other than the basic 'swamp-like green' and a smell that actually smells like blueberries instead of a Brassica vegetable! It is beautiful and delicious, but full disclosure here, kale wins in the end. If you have extra and then let this mixture sit around (like storing in the refrigerator), it helps to remember before you open that refrigerator door hours later or the next day that mixing blue and green paint together surely must make some shade of brown because that is what this smoothie will look like! Instead of 'swamp green', we now have 'swamp brown'. The taste is still delicious as my older son and daughter in law will attest. Nothing was left over this morning. It was all consumed with no left-overs!

3/4 cup plain unflavored soymilk
1 cup 100% pear juice
8-10 baby carrots
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp. flaxseeds
1 Tbsp. wheat germ
1 Tbsp. oat bran
2 cups baby kale

Mix together in the blender, starting slowly than on high until fully blended. Timing will vary depending on the oomph of your blender.

(Photo: this kale decoration was only for the photo op and was put into the bag to be added into tomorrow's smoothie!)

Good taste, good health!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Recipe: Garbanzo Beans and Kale on Rice

Any fresh, leafy greens could be substituted here, depending on what is in season and what you like, from spicy escarole to delicate spinach. Serve over a bed of whole grains with some crusty bread to sop up any delicious broth still left on your plate or in your bowl. 

Brown rice (I start this in my rice cooker about an hour before we want to eat)
2 center-cut bacon slices
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more only if your family likes things 'spicy!')
1 - 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth (I usually use vegetable broth, but this time I used some home-made chicken broth and yes, it was delicious!)
1/2 cup water
1 (15-ounce) cans organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
4 cups chopped fresh kale (remove from thick stems and chop - our dog loves to eat the kale stems or I save them to make vegetable broth)
1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
4 lemon wedges (optional)
1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan using a slotted spoon, and crumble. Add 1 cup carrot and chopped onion to drippings in pan, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cumin, and red pepper; cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in chicken broth, 1 cup water, and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add 4 cups kale to bean mixture. Cover and simmer for 2-5 minutes or until kale is tender, stirring occasionally. 
3. Ladle some of the rice or other grains into a bowl or onto a plate. Add a hefty scoop (about 1 1/4 cups) of the bean mixture on top of the grain, and then top each serving with 2 tablespoons yogurt. Sprinkle with bacon, and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
Makes 3-4 servings, depending on what else you serve with the meal. For us, it made 2 nice-sized dinner servings with enough left over for one lunch serving. 
We only eat bacon as an infrequent and very special treat. I knew we had some delicious locally-produced bacon in the freezer. Again, just like using chicken broth in this recipe, topping the dish with just a few pieces of crumbled bacon was the perfect final taste touch. Even though the final dish was just at the edge of spiciness for my husband, the added bacon made him smile and gave him a contented feeling. :)

This recipe was eaten before photos could be taken. It is a simple but complete and a delicious, delicious dinner. Instead here is a great image to help us all remember to eat our locally-grown greens from FarmerPal's Facebook page:
Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD