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    Archive for the ‘kale’ Category

    Quick & Healthy Recipe: “Bow Down To the Kale Gods” Salad

    I came up with this recipe’s name because this salad made me fall in love with kale once again.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t turning my back on kale, but our relationship needed to have that initial fire reignited; and this salad did the trick. It is the end result of me making several modifications to an original one I was introduced to at a recent cooking workshop here in Seattle.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Sweet Potato & Kale Hash

    yamsA few days ago, Lisa Suriano (AKA @Veggiecation on Twitter) mentioned a recipe she had for a potato and kale hash.  My tastebuds perked up and I immediately asked her if she could e-mail me the recipe so I could showcase it here.  Within minutes, Lisa graciously granted my request!

    So as to not lazily cut and paste someone else’s recipe on here, I decided to use Lisa’s delightful original recipe as inspiration and make a few small tweaks (mainly using sweet potatoes in place of potatoes, and playing around with different spices and condiments).

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    The Three Words Every Nutritionist Should Say

    mesclun_greens_11234220238“Eat more greens.”

    Yes, there is “eat more” advice that promotes health.  Unless you are drowning them in copious amounts of oil, greens don’t make a caloric dent.

    Dark, leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of many minerals (especially calcium as far as kale, bok choy, and mustard greens are concerned), phytonutrients, antioxidants, and flavonoids.

    Barring exceptions (ie: someone taking Coumadin), everyone can benefit from consuming a higher quantity of these vegetables.

    By the way, the key when taking Coumadin is to keep your intake of dark leafy green vegetables constant.  If you normally eat a lot, keep eating a lot.  If you normally don’t, keep your intake low.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Kale Chips

    inside_products_kaleWhenever I see a bag of kale chips at a health food store, my initial instinct to place one in my shopping cart is usually abruptly halted by sticker shock.  Here in New York City, I have seen prices as high as $12 for a bag!

    Fortunately, making your own kale chips at home is extremely easy.

    As with the almond milk recipe I shared earlier this year, the concept of kale chips has been around for decades.  This is by no means “my invention”.  This is simply the version of kale chips I enjoy most (after making many, many different batches over the past few years).

    YIELDS: 3 – 4 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 bunch kale (use the curly kind; for a nice visual, use red and green varieties)
    1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1.5 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
    2 teaspoons garlic powder (optional)
    2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)
    1/6 teaspoon sea salt
    Pinch red pepper flakes

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Wash and destem kale leaves.

    Pat dry and place in large bowl.

    Add remaining ingredients to bowl and mix well, ensuring even coating on all kale leaves.

    Place kale, in one layer, on baking sheet.

    Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

    UPDATE (9/28/11): To guarantee crispiness and crunchiness, I recommend two things: adding salt after the kale chips are out of the oven and cooling them on a wire rack.

    NUTRITION FACTS (per serving, with all listed ingredients):

    70 calories
    134 milligrams sodium
    3 grams fiber
    3 grams protein

    Excellent source of: B vitamins (including B12), manganese, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K

    Good source of: Calcium, iron, magnesium

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Sweet Potato, Kale, and Coconut Soup

    kaleI modified this recipe from an original — and wonderful — one whipped up by Registered Dietitian Jane Harrison of My Optum Health.  If you are on Twitter, you can follow Jane there.

    My version retains 95 percent of Jane’s original (I mainly changed a few ingredient proportions and tacked on a few more spices).

    Jane is absolutely right when she explains that “this hearty soup has it all, including fiber, protein, antioxidants, and a host of vitamins and minerals.”  I was very happy when I tallied information for the recipe and came up with the terrific values posted towards the end of this post.

    I made this soup slightly more caloric than the original recipe, so depending on your calorie needs, it can be followed by a standard entree, a half-sandwich, or a salad.

    YIELDS: 4 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    1.5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    3 large garlic cloves, minced
    1 small onion, diced
    6 cups raw kale (pictured, right)
    1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
    4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
    1 can low-sodium chickpeas
    2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
    2 teaspoons curry powder
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon paprika

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    1. Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium-high flame, until lightly browned.
    2. Add kale and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes.
    3. Add broth and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender.
    4. Add garbanzo beans and coconut milk. Stir for 2 – 3 minutes.
    5. Add spices, stir for 30 seconds, and serve.

    OPTIONAL: Top with chopped scallions

    NUTRITION FACTS (per serving)

    354 calories
    7.2 grams saturated fat (see NOTE)
    300 milligrams sodium
    10 grams fiber
    6 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Manganese, monounsaturated fat, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K

    Good Source of: Calcium, copper, iron

    NOTE: The saturated fats in coconut — along with those in cacao — are the least harmful of the saturated fats.  Coconuts are high in lauric acid, a saturated fat which increases LDL cholesterol but also simultaneously raises HDL cholesterol.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    kaleleaf5A cup of cooked kale contains 1,100 percent more vitamin C than a cup of cooked spinach and as much absorbable calcium as two thirds of a cup of milk.

    All dark leafy green vegetables are certainly not created equal!

    While spinach has its own thumbs-up-worthy qualities, kale certainly goes above and beyond.

    One of kale’s best nutritional offerings is its absorbable calcium.

    While spinach contains a fair share of calcium, most of it is bound by oxalates, which prevent it from being absorbed by our bodies.

    (FYI: the calcium in broccoli is even more absorbable than that in milk!)

    Next time you’re at the store, I encourage you to pick up some kale.  It is absolutely delicious when sauteed with garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.

    Alternatively, you can steam it along with other vegetables — I personally love to contrast it with the intense taste and color of butternut squash — and drizzle a healthy dressing over them.

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    Numbers Game: Kale-rific

    kaleA cup of cooked kale contains  ____ percent more vitamin C than a cup of cooked spinach and as much absorbable calcium as ____ cup of milk.

    a) 400/one half
    b) 200/ one
    c) 1,100/ two thirds of a
    d) 500/ a quarter

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Thursday for the answer.

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    Survey Results: Calcium Education

    calcium-richThe latest Small Bites survey asked visitors if they perceived mainstream advice on calcium-rich foods to be too focused on dairy products.  Ninety-two percent of the sixty-seven respondents said “yes.”

    I certainly think consumer knowledge and awareness of non-dairy sources of calcium in the United States — and other Western nations — is practically non-existent.

    Although dairy products certainly offer calcium, so do some leafy green vegetables (bok choy, kale, mustard greens, and collard greens), canned fish (salmon with bones, sardines), chickpeas, tempeh, and almonds.

    Part of the “problem” is that the majority of educational materials on calcium are paid for — and distributed — by the National Dairy Council, which not only plunks down $100 million annually in advertising, but also doles out as much money in the way of research grants.

    I recently conducted a small-scale research project which, among other things, examined calcium awareness among vegans and non-vegans.

    One part of the questionnaire respondents were asked to fill out included a food frequency questionnaire which included 41 foods that were high, moderate, or low sources of calcium.

    A subsequent question asked respondents to list any foods in that list they were not aware contained calcium.  Almost two thirds of those surveyed were surprised to see broccoli, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, chickpeas, and tempeh make the list.

    Hey, PETA, how about giving the silly publicity gimmicks a break (you know, like your campaigns to have breast milk in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or change the name of the Pet Shop Boys to The Rescue Shelter Boys?) and investing a significant amount of money in educational materials for the general population on non-dairy sources of calcium?

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    You Ask, I Answer: Vitamin K

    What does Vitamin K do? What foods is it in?

    — Name Withheld
    Brooklyn, NY

    You kind of have to feel sorry for Vitamin K. It appears to be the least popular vitamin, and many people don’t even appear interested in getting to know it better.

    If Vitamin D is the life of the party, Vitamin K is standing by the punchbowl, futilely attempting to make small talk with other guests.

    I would definitely suggest being familiar with it, though, since this nutrient plays a very important role in blood clotting and bone density.

    You may wonder why its blood clotting properties are perceived as beneficial, particularly when one of the outed benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids is their blood thinning properties.

    We come back to the ever-present ideal of balance.

    Over-thinning of the blood is problematic, as it increases the risk of internal bleeding.

    Additionally, without blood clotting factors, something a small cut could result in excessive blood loss.

    Vitamin K helps with bone density by regulating calcitonin, a protein that locks calcium in the bone matrix, thereby making it more difficult for cells known as osteoclasts from breaking it down.

    If osteoclasts are more active than osteoblasts (which help create new bone tissue), your risk of osteoporisis increases significantly.

    What’s interesting about this nutrient is that we get it two different ways.

    K2, the more biologically active form, is synthesized by beneficial bacteria in our intestinal tract.

    Since babies start off with bacteria-free intestines, they are given a Vitamin K shot within hours of being born.

    The plant form — K1 — is found abundantly in leafy green vegetables. Although our intestinal bacteria produce some Vitamin K, we still need to get some from our diet.

    A mere half cup of steamed kale, spinach, and collard greens each pack in six times the Daily Value!

    A single cup of raw romaine lettuce provides three quarters of a day’s worth.

    Anyone who has ever been on blood-thinning medication (i.e.: warfarin, more commonly known as Coumadin) has been told to be mindful of their Vitamin K intake so as to prevent unwanted drug-nutrient interactions.

    Here’s why.

    Warfarin, an anticoagulant, decreases clotting (this is why it is mostly prescribed to heart disease patients.)

    A lot of people inaccurately think that the best thing to do when put on warfarin is completely eliminate Vitamin K from the diet.

    Not so! The key is to keep vitamin K intake consistent.

    Suddenly increasing Vitamin K consumption renders Coumadin ineffective, whereas decreasing it too much in a short amount of time will overly thin the blood.

    Remember, too, that antibiotics kill all flora in the gut — the negative AND positive bacteria (this includes the one that produces Vitamin K.)

    Therefore, when on antibiotics, do not drastically alter your Vitamin K intake.

    A clinical dietitian I know at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital recently told a most interesting anecdote about a patient who was put on coumadin.

    A dietary recall revealed that her diet was very high in Vitamin K. Not a problem, but definitely important in the scheme of things.

    Soon thereafter, she fell very ill, to the point where she stopped eating. Mind you, she was still on Coumadin.

    In other words, her vitamin K drastically decreased (from about 1200% of the Daily Value a day to absolutely nothing).

    To counteract the illness, she was given antibiotics (remember, she is still on Coumadin).

    The antiobiotics wiped out gut flora.

    So, she now had a high Coumadin dose (based on her standard Vitamin K intake) but no Vitamin K from her diet OR her intestinal tract.

    Not surprisingly, she bled internally and had to be rushed into surgery.

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