Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kale Stems

The kale stems which were separated from the leafy kale turned out to be tough no matter
how long I seemed to cook them. They seemed to be fibrous, yet the kale's leafy blades were tender.

I am glad that I did not cook the stems along with the kale, and that I removed the stems from the kale stalk.

Although once cleaned-up and sliced on the diagonal for a pretty presentation, the stalks proved to be inedible! The color is beautiful in the raw sliced stalks below, but not chewable.

I purchased the kale at a wonderful local fruit and vegetable market. I will try kale stems again, just in case the stems were tough on only the type of kale which I purchased.

As one of my favorite cooks on HGTV would say to such stems if she tossed them in the trash,

                                     "Thanks kale stems for visiting!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


This will be our first Thanksgiving on a semi-vegetarian diet, I say "semi" as I do not plan on buying meat, but plan to start using up what I have in the freezer, but only serve meat once a week. We had Cheerios for breakfast along with a tablespoon of ground flax seed, which we purchased at Costco after listening to Dr. Esselstyn's lecture last Saturday and being inspired to eat healthier by his wife, Ann Crile Esselstyn.

Dr. Esselstyn mentioned that we need to avoid sucrose. I just bought ten pounds of sugar for holiday baking and hope sugar lasts for a very long time. Dr Esselstyn does not suggest using Stevia or sugar substitutes and I seem to have more than a few varieties in my kitchen! Dr. Esselstyn does not promote maple syrup or honey either, sugar is a "no, no."

I know I will have to modify recipes as sugar is a liquid in baking, but for cooking I can easily come up with some quick fixes.

I purchased fresh cranberries and wondered how to sweeten them for my cranberry relish. After thinking about, since my family loves bananas, I decided to add the usual apple and orange to the cranberries and chop them up in the blender or food chopper. I started in the blender and decided to use the sweetest fruit I have in the house, other than dates. I added a sweet Yellow Delicious apple and an orange to the cranberries as I usually do. I did not add the usual 1/4-1/2 cup of sugar as I usually do.

I saw two ripe bananas on my counter and dates from California. I decided to put the two bananas in my Ninja chopper and puree them into a soft, creamy consistency. I poured the pure banana "syrup" over the cranberry/apple/orange relish and gently folded the banana, which turned to a liquid, into the mixture.

The relish is just sweet enough, perfectly sweet, and we do not mind the banana flavor in our cranberry relish and have the benefit of not having to use sugar!

Grocery Shopping

I went grocery shopping to today, the first time I have shopped since we attended Dr Esselstyn's lecture at the Mayfield Regional Library last Saturday. I am thankful that my husband came to the lecture and that he accompanied me grocery shopping. Because he went to the lecture and heard so much about kale, my husband was interested in seeing kale in our local market.

I always grow flowering kale in my yard and have cooked it in the past, only to have to eat it by myself. However, after attending the lecture, my husband not only tasted the kale both raw and cooked, but helped prepare it, by stripping the leafy areas from the stem as Dr. Esselstyne's wife demonstrated.

To strip the kale, take a leaf and hold the stem in your right hand and strip the softer leafy areas, away from the stem in one continuous motion. My husband is actually better at this than I am.

We used the kale tonight as we would have used pasta, the base for a vegetarian bean and barley chili.

Having lived in Cincinnati for 14 years, combining homemade chili with pasta is natural. Substituting cooked and slightly chopped kale for the pasta, was not only delicious, but a way to disguise kale for the non-kale eating world! My husband loved it and so did I!

I used about a cup of dried black beans, 1/2 cup of red pinto beans, and put them in a put, and just covered them with cold water. Per the instructions on the bean package, I boiled them for two minutes and let them sit for about an hour before continuing the cooking process. The directions say that the beans will cook in two hours, but they are always a bit too hard for us at the two-hour stage. I prefer to cook them twice the time stated on the package, add more liquid, about 1 cup of spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, or even sausa taking up too much room in my refrigerator! I had at least a teaspoon of cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder and ab out a cup of each of chopped onions, celery, and carrots.

I had cooked the kale until tender, the mass of kale barely made two generous servings for the base of a bowl of chili!

Notice how the kale quickly cooked down. I have flowering kale in my yard, but don't want to pick it yet.
I also purchased a huge cabbage and plan to make "stuffed cabbage casserole" without using meat.

We may find ourselves between Dr. Dean Ornish's diet and that of Dr; Esselstyn, but in any case, we were energized to include more crucifers in our diet and hope to make kale a regular visitor at our house!

Have you ever seen such a huge cabbage?

The stripped kale filled up the pot, but watch how it shrinks after cooking.

The kale cooked down in the picture below where it turned from a bright green to a very deep green.

Below is how the kale looked after stripping the leafy areas from the stalks using the method which Dr. Esselstyn's wife showed at the lecture at the Mayfield Regional Library last Saturday.

I took the stems of the stalks and cut them on a slant into bite size pieces which I plan to cook tomorrow for lunch with our left over vegetarian bean and barley chili. Mrs. Ellelstyn mentioned that she cut the stems on a slant, and I think that cutting the stems into equal pieces on a slant, may speed up the cooking process.

Below is the large pot of vegetarian bean and barley chili cooking on the stove. I cooked it for more than four hours. After about three hours I blended some of the bean and barley mixture in the blender and pureed the mixture before putting it back in to the pot.

                               Yum, it is so much better than I expected!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Vegan Diets

Went to Dr. Esselstyn's (Cleveland Clinic) very interesting lecture at the Mayfield Regional Library last Saturday and was impressed with his wife's input (granddaughter of the founder of the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Crile)  -- found a portion of the lecture on YouTube at

Discussion emphasizes, but not limited to heart issues from arrhythmias to attacks, and Dr. Esselstyn and his wife talk about cancer prevention (he was a breast surgeon).

No dairy, no meat, no oil, no sugar are key, he says eat nothing which has a mother or a face, in the plant-based diet.

Have followed Dean Ornish for years per my husband's diet. Dr. Esselstyn's is a bit stricter, but the same theme.

I will check out Dr. Esselstyn's recipes and see if we might try the program, but in any case, we will be making more trips to the fresh fruit and vegetable markets and I will plant more flowering kale in my garden next spring!

I am looking forward to reading his book and his son's book!