Feb 3, 2014

The Award Goes to …

There are 5 stages of a celebrity’s career.

Who is ____?

Get me ____!

Get me a ____ type!

Get me a young ____!

Who is ____?

I’ve been eating kale for years.  Decades.

Passionately steaming, roasting, blending and juicing kale. I massage kale into salads and bake it into diaphanous chips.

When speaking of kale, is there such a thing as too much or too far?

Wrist deep in soil, I’ve harvested kale from my Hawaiian garden, offering the thickest stalks to my compost heap to follow Nature’s cycle of decay and rebirth to rise once again as kale.

In my teen years spinach made a brief monthly appearance as a chic and healthy alternative to iceberg salads. The only plant I knew more fibrous than spinach was the loofah sponge in our upstairs shower.

As a college-age organic-curious, punk yoga vegetarian I took my waitress earnings to the health food store near my University and began to trade up – replacing my simple meal regimen with organic versions of pasta, apples, bread, raisins and granola.

With my basket full of healthy staples, I studied the small produce section and wondered at an array of tubers, roots, fungi, gourds and large thick leaves.  I picked up a bundle of fibrous greens on taut stalks and marveled at their strangeness. Written on a small card was one word – kale.

What is kale?

I tried it. I kind of liked it. And with a go-natural girlish enthusiasm, I fell in love.

Get me Kale!

I embarked on a whole foods program.  Whole foods are like prime numbers they cannot be reduced any further – they are in their most original edible state. I plated meals of kale, sliced cucumber, roasted butternut squash, whole grain brown rice, and stewed apple.

I opted out of processed and packaged foods with lists of ingredients I didn’t recognize including chemical preservatives and artificial flavors. While avoiding packaged food, I avoided packaging and reduced the trash I brought in and then carried out of my apartment.   I further reduced packaging when I realized I didn’t need one plastic bag for a few onions and a second one for garlic. Onion and garlic could share a bag. And eventually, leaving behind the excess baggage of early habits, my produce didn’t need any plastic bags at all.

Eating locally and seasonally are part of a natural and whole foods lifestyle. Eat what’s grown on nearby farms and harvested in season while avoiding produce that’s been shipped from another continent or trucked across the country.

When the local kale harvest ended, I still wanted kale but kale was not to be had.

Get me a kale type!

Swiss chard, collards, mustard greens, spinach, these mineral rich, high-chlorophyll greens can all stand in for kale.

Swiss chard has delicate petal soft leaves while red chard is festive and ebullient. Both chards have a short fridge life.

Collards are cabbage on a stalk.  These dark large leaves last ages in the veggie drawer. Collards are hardy, dutiful and sustain the whole family.

I spend winter standing at a steaming stove preparing meals to warm the family.  In humid Summer I can’t stand over a stove, let alone turn one on.

Fortunately Summer’s seasonal produce is light and sweet offering berries, peaches, asparagus and salad greens. Salads?

Get me a young kale!

Tiny leaved, early plucked baby kale is delicate and frilly, pretty enough to tuck into a wedding bouquet. Baby kale holds up to tart vinaigrette and is hardier in the fridge than other baby lettuces that quickly dampen to compost after a few days.

30 years after my first bite of kale I now live in a world, or at least a country, where every health guru and media outpost has risen in one voice trumpeting kale!

I am asked at cocktail parties, yoga classes, and baby showers, have you ever tried kale?

What’s kale?

I ask, and then listen as a new friend’s enthusiasm flushes with a love I know from long ago.








Categories: anti-aging, beauty, do this, great skin, happiness, health, Kiki Eats

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