October 24, 2011

Food and health

Those who garden teach us how to work at the future.

A recent gift from a friend's garden.
I’m from a family of southerners who in moving to the city did not abandon their roots. I grew up with a small garden of tomatoes, peppers, and greens in the backyard, which cannot compare to the vast produce of warmer, well-cultivated countryside farms. Family and friends making visits to Georgia and South Carolina would return with tasty varieties of sweet potatoes, collards and other delights including my favorite chow chow, a vegetable relish of green tomatoes, cabbage, peppers and spices.  Chow chow is a condiment that works well with greens and/or beans.  I grew up loving vegetables on my plate with few exceptions. I’m getting back to these dishes including updates for favorite recipes see “the goodness of kale” at the end of this post.  I also support food grown within reach from backyards to local farms.

Food provides the nutritional value that we need to be healthy.  A great meal often involves tasty food, good company and time to share.  Food Day provides an opportunity for reflection to change the way we eat and think about food. The grave health statistics for our nation include rising rates of childhood obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease all have some remedy with improving the access and availability of food so that healthier choices become easier (and tastier) choices.

National and local activities are taking place to build awareness and mobilize.  We should be encouraged with opportunities to “eatreal” supporting healthy, affordable food with a real focus on local availability. Food Day principles for changes in food and health include:

1.     Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods.

2.     Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness

3.     Expand access to food & alleviate hunger

4.     Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms

5.     Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids

6.     Support fair conditions for food and farm workers

There are many national and local events taking place, today. Learn more about Food Day at www.foodday.org.

The goodness of kale

Kale is a hearty leafy green loaded with vitamins and minerals. Kale is good food for you and tasty too.  Here are a few of my recipe suggestions:

It takes about 2 lbs of cut (remove some of large stems) for 4 servings.  Wash greens thoroughly in cold water. 

Garlic and kale greens
Add 5 cloves of garlic to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Heat on medium begin to add greens once garlic starts to cook.  Add ½ cup of chicken stock, 1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes and cover tightly.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes.  As greens wilt toss them a few times.  Optional:  Serve with warm corn bread. Add slices of cooked chicken-apple sausage or kielbasa.

Kale and white bean soup
Follow directions above and add an additional cup of chicken stock, one 16 oz. can of white beans and 1 cup of fresh sliced mushrooms.  Let simmer for about 20-30 minutes in total.

Kale chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread cut and washed (pat dry) kale on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with coarse sale and drizzle with olive.  Let cook 15-20 minutes until crisp. Serve warm or cold.  Great crunchy snack or add flavor to a salad.

Olive oil in these recipes adds flavor and also aids digestive absorption of the many vitamins and minerals found in kale.  There are lots of varieties of kale to choose from, curly green are most abundant.   These dishes will take you through the winter as the frost and chill actually improves the taste of the dark green earthy goodness found in kale.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a non-profit watchdog and consumer advocacy group convening Food Day, a nationwide campaign with individual and organizational sponsors.

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