A few years ago, my husband and I decided to do everything we could to become healthy in order to start a family. This meant getting back into hiking, learning to relax more and we had also heard that eating a certain way has some influence on health as well. So we consulted our healthiest friends and came up to speed on the latest salubrious eating trends. We prayed to the gods of health and they sent us prophets in forms of best-selling cardiologist/nutritionists, raw food-ists, radical endocrinologists and of course, the authorities in all things healthy and beings from a higher plane of existence: vegans.
On our food pilgrimage, we saw the usual commandments recurring: Carbs were definitely out, as were processed foods. Light colored foods were no good but dark ones were. We discovered that not only the food itself was a factor but the receptacles it came in. So we hurled our plastic containers to the wind because we were told they cause hormonal imbalances and flung our teflon and aluminum pans to the back of the cupboard because evil chemical spirit chemicals were exorcized from them when hot.
The strongest food prophet of all, however, came to us over and over again of the form of the One true miracle food: Kale.
Touted as the densest nutrient-rich food on the planet, it was clear that if we were going to run with the right food crowd, we would be downing some kale.
Now all we had to do was figure out two things: What was kale and what do we do with it?
We were delighted to discover that despite its ubiquitous presence on the menus of every trendy, overpriced restaurant we visited, kale was one of the most inexpensive items in the produce section. When the nice men in aprons pointed it out to us in our grocery store, we got so excited about the price, we bought not one bunch, but two. Surely by morning, we would be healthy.
The next step was figuring out how to cook it. In a pinch, my husband’s solution to cooking pretty much anything and making it taste good is to saute it in butter, garlic and brown sugar. But apparently two of those ingredients were on the banned list of one of our nutrition books (I forget which two), so we had to look for new combinations.
Our second attempt was to steam kale. Surely, steaming would be healthy, we declared and we will at last be saved.
Good God, the result was not something I’d ever want to happen to anyone. Kale can be a bitter fabric to swallow and its celebrated high fiber content was a force to be reckoned with internally. My husband apparently had the inner mechanisms to process this leafy green burlap, but I, being the dainty and delicate digester, was left violently ill and disillusioned by this wonder vegetable that reportedly had caused other devotees’ gray hairs to disappear, high blood pressure to dissipate and plump healthy children to spring from their wombs.
So what was my problem? Was I so very unhealthy that just eating something this healthy would make me sick? I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I was unworthy…
After several dark days or sobering inner reflection, I decided to embrace, rather than fear my inner Kale eater.
A person must learn to crawl before they can walk, so I started small… literally. It turns out chopping the kale into small pieces makes it infinitely more digestible. Success!
And I consulted the masters… a local raw food class revealed it is necessary to _massage_ kale if you’re going to serve it raw. Well, no wonder it was stand-off-ish with me. It was apparently tense.
Unbelievably, when massaged (and chopped), I was able to ingest the most holy of all things green with no problem at all.
So I decided to join the acolytes at my local kale temple and do everything I could to turn eating kale into a palatable art form for other lost and unworthy souls leading bleak, desolate, kale-less lives.
I committed to discover as many ways of incorporating kale into my life as possible and become something of a Jehova’s Witness of Kale.
And that is how “Learning to Love Kale” was born and I was re-born.
Photo Credit: Trevor Hunt of http://www.photo-expressions.co.uk.