Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kale Salsa

Kale Salsa

Tender garden kale 
The tender young kale in the garden is incredible!  It is beautiful, nutritious, and abundant.  So I want to make the best use of it while it is still so tasty. 

Tom planted three types of kale, and the one that is ready now is Lacinato kale (aka Dino kale) - my favorite.  It has deep green puckered leaves, rather than fringed leaves like the Red Russian Kale that will be ready in the garden in about 2 or 3 weeks.  The type most commonly available in the grocery stores is curly kale.  A quick look at most seed catalogs will show a growing variety of kale since it has gained in popularity as the evidence for its anti-cancer fighting properties become more well known.  It is also incredibly easy to grow and is cold hardy for those of us who have a short growing season.  All types are delicious, and can be used interchangeably in recipes calling for kale.  

Kale is a member of  the cruciferae (cruciferous) family, (also called brassica family). Cruciferous vegetables are unique in that they are rich sources of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that impart a pungent aroma and spicy taste. Other commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnips, and Chinese cabbage.  Arugula, horse radish, radish, wasabi, watercress, and tot soi are also cruciferous vegetables.   See Diana Dyer's blog, 365 Days of Kale, for a complete list of all of the vegetables in this brassica family, as well as multitudes of recipes to make them all tasty.  While I can't eat many of the recipes there, I often find inspiration for my pureed creations from her recipes.  As a registered dietician and three-time cancer survivor, Diana Dyer is a fabulous resource for accurate information about the health benefits of the cruciferous vegetables as well as other foods.  

Another source of sound nutritional advice is nutritionist Rebecca Katz, M.S..  Described as the creative culinary artist who combines great taste with fabulous nutrition, Rebecca Katz'z cookbook, One Bite At a Time, is one of my "go-to favorites" to get possible flavor combinations for my creations.   She states in her cookbook "kale is rich in calcium and cancer-fighting compounds, including anti-oxidents.  Sulforaphane, also in broccoli, is a well-studied phytochemical that may inhibit cancer-causing substances.  Other phytochemicals in kale may protect against breast cancer by reducing the impact of estrogen.  Kale is also beneficial to the function of the digestive and nervous systems." You can find helpful nutritional information, as well as recipes and inspiration at her website, Rebecca Katz.  

If there is one thing I try to do every day I am home, it is to consume dark, leafy greens or other vegetables from the cruciferous family.  (And eat some form of probiotic, such as yogurt or kefir. But that's for another blog post.)  Don't let me mislead you - not all of my habits are healthy.   I indulge in low-fat chips and crackers all too often, since they easily dissolve in my gastric juices and don't require any preparation.  But I have to believe that my daily intake of cruciferous vegetables has contributed to my nearly 14 years of longevity in the face of having a 5-6cm pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor.  I wish I could say that I don't eat the processed snacks at all, but I'm just not "there" yet.  Maybe someday.  But not today.    

I developed this kale salsa today and it tantalized my taste buds, as I ate it with my favorite low-fat multi-grain chip. (Definitely not "there" yet today. I wonder where "there" is???)   Another quick and delicious way to make the most of the garden kale on a hot humid day in Duluth.   For lunch, I made another  Mud Slide ( my combination of kale, blueberries, frozen banana, and soy milk posted on the blog a couple of days ago), so I know I consumed at least 2 cups of chopped kale today.   Try this snazzy, Pzazzy salsa and be "greened" today.    

1/4 cup prepared salsa (mild or medium)
Potted parsley
1 large stalk celery, leaves included                     
1 cup chopped kale, (thick stem removed)
1/4 cup chopped parsley 

Place all ingredients in a VitaMix or blender and puree until smooth.   

Servings per recipe: 2
Serving Size: 1/2 cup  (approximate)
Calories: 36
Total Fat:  0 g
Cholesterol: 0  mg
Sodium:287    mg
Total Carbs: 7  g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 2 g