Not My Mother’s Vegetables

My mother never met a vegetable that she couldn’t improve upon with a heavy sauce and some French onion crisps. Or mix in a casserole with potato chip toppings. Or drown in some variety of Campbell’s soup (preferably Cream of Mushroom with those French onion crisps added again).

Is it any wonder I never viewed vegetables as part of a healthy diet?

But I’m all grown up now and I can’t blame mom for my unhealthy eating habits.  And I certainly can’t avoid knowing that vegetables are an extremely important part of a healthy diet.

But knowing and doing something about it are two different things. There are just so many carrots, so much lettuce a gal can eat without wanting to run for the chocolate. Right?

Well, yes, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

That’s what I’m going to try to prove with these Saturday Vegetable Blogs. I’ll give you the inspirational information about why you should eat your vegetables, and then I’ll try to make it fun with some interesting recipes.


I’m starting with Kale. Kale comes in several varieties – the green curly kind

or Lacinato kale, better known as Dinosaur Kale 

As you’ll see in one of the videos below, Kale has a reputation as being a garnish food; the inedible green stuff that’s supposed to make your plate of food look appealing. But Kale is so much more than that.

Did you know that Kale supposedly has more nutritional value in fewer calories than just about any food? It’s been called one of the most potent health promoting vegetables known to man. *

Kale is what’s known as a superfood.  A member of the Brassica family (along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts), kale is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Kale is rich in antioxidants (helpful to build immunity), but Kale’s reputation is based on its sulfur-containing phytonutrients which are known to fight cancer and help the liver detoxify cancer causing chemicals. Kale is supposed to be particularly helpful in preventing/halting breast, ovarian and colon cancers. Kale also rates very high for its anti-inflammatory properties. Plus it’s extremely low in calories – only 33 per cup.

So what do we do with kale?

My favorite way to eat kale is to blanche it and then sauté lightly with onions and garlic. This summer I’ve been loving tossing in some zucchini and tomatoes and then serving over pasta. I’ve also added strips of it to spaghetti sauce, chopped it up in baked potatoes, mixed in with an omelet or with tabouli. That’s one of the great advantages; once you know how to prepare it, you can toss some of this potent superfood into almost anything you’re cooking.

So how do you prepare kale?

I’m a very visual person so I love to watch cooks who know what they’re doing.  I wanted to post an excellent YouTube video that shows the basics of preparing kale, but this one is resisting imbedding so here’s a link – Kale 101.

The kale chips she mentioned? AWESOME! Even the best dieters among us have times when we just crave something salty and crunchy. Kale chips really do feed that urge.

The health food stores in my neighborhood have been carrying kale chips but they’re very expensive so I went looking for a way to make them. This video shows how, but I’d recommend adjusting for taste. I found the 1 Tablespoon of olive oil made them too oily for my taste. I’d either increase the amount of Kale or decrease the oil. I haven’t tried adding garlic or sesame seeds, but I’ve seen both recommended and I think they’d probably taste great.

Kale chips

I absolutely LOVE this recipe for raw kale salad. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve been considering doing something similar with the raw kale but substituting cranberry juice for the lemon and adding toasted walnuts (rich in Omega 3) and dried cranberries.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

There’s also a delicious recipe for Creamy Kale Avocado salad posted on this blog – Whistler Whatever You have to scroll all the way down to the bottom.

There’s another delicious sounding recipe for a Lacinato Kale and Parmeggiano-Reggiano Salad (as well as some additional health info) at the Food Medic blog.

And finally, although it’s not yet soup season, I’m thinking ahead. I love Hale and Hearty’s Tuscan White Bean Soup so I was thrilled to find this recipe for White Bean Soup with Kale. Eric seems like a cook after my own heart, so enjoy the video.

I hope I’ve inspired you to give Kale a chance. Do you have any recipes for Kale that you’ve tried? Any questions about it? Any vegetables you’d like me to focus on?

Happy eating – enjoy your vegetables, but remember chocolate is good for you too.

Cautions – Kale is rich in Vitamin K so it can be problematic for people with clotting problems. You should also check with your doctor before eating it if you have thyroid problems.



28 responses to “Not My Mother’s Vegetables”

  1. Great inaugural post, Mary. As I mentioned to you before, I was glad to see you cover kale because I have this image of kale as being a garnish. That’s because I ran the salad bar at a steakhouse in college, and that’s what we used to decorate the salad bar. 🙂

    I love white bean soup, so I’ll definitely try adding kale to that. Maybe I’ll sprinkle some in with a regular salad too.

    • Mary Curry says:

      LOL, Trish. When I watched that video, my first reaction was THAT’s what that stuff is!

      It’s so great to find out that something I like actually is good for me.

  2. I just discovered this winter that I love kale courtesy of a feature on the Weight Watchers Web site. It was a spotlight of in season veggies with recipe ideas. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I liked kale because I love greens.

    I’m really looking forward to trying some of the recipes you recommended. Kale chips, huh? I bet I’ll try the white bean soup first, but I will try to experiment too. I really need to do that more with vegetables.

    Given what I wrote above, it won’t be a shock that I love to put kale is soups and stews. One of my favorite soups that feature kale is Caldo Verde – a Portuguese staple.

    Caldo Verde

    Grated into the soup, the potato melts, its starch thickening the broth into a creamy winter warmer.
    Makes 6 cups; 4 servings

    POINTS® value 4 per serving

    * 1 spray nonstick cooking spray
    * 1 medium onion, chopped
    * 2 garlic cloves, minced
    * 8 ounces turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
    * 4 cups chicken broth
    * 1 medium baking potato (about 8 ounces), peeled
    * 4 cups stemmed and shredded kale
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    * 3 dashes hot red pepper sauce


    1. Spray a large saucepan with nonstick spray; set over medium heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 20 seconds.
    2. Add the sausage; cook, stirring often, until browned, about 5 minutes.
    3. Pour in the broth; bring to a simmer, stirring often.
    4. Using the small holes of a box grater, grate the potato into the stew. Stir well while returning to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
    5. Stir in the kale; cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, about 12 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, and hot red pepper sauce before serving.

    Serving size: 1 1/2 cups.

    I often use turkey kiebalsa (polish sausage) in here but have also used italian turkey sausage and regular kiebalsa/sausage. Obviously, the regular sausage ups the points/calories.

    • Mary Curry says:

      That soup sounds delicious, Michelle. I’m vowing to try to make more soups this winter. I usually buy them from Hale and Hearty but they’re very expensive for small portions.

      The Kale chips really are easy. You just wash the Kale, rip it into small pieces, toss with the olive oil and sea salt, and bake for 10-15 minutes.

      The ones in the health food store are dehydrated rather than bakes but since I don’t have a dehydrator, I’ll settle for the baked ones.

      • It is a wonderful soup. Let me know if you try it.

        I have a question about kale. As you can see, this recipe asks you to de-stem the kale. I’ve heard from some folks that the stem of kale is too bitter, but others disagree. What did you learn about that?

        • Mary Curry says:

          Michelle, I have to admit to discarding the stem each time so I can’t say anything about the taste. What I learned from recipes and watching youtubes of people cooking it is if you’re going to use the stems you should cut them up into very small pieces and cook them for 10-15 minutes before you add the leaves. My understanding is that the main nutrient value is in the leaves so it just didn’t seem worth the bother to me to deal with the stems.

          One thing I did learn is that when you strip the leaves and stem that stays attached is tender enough to use. Most chefs seem to recommend using your hand and a downward stripping motion as being easier than cutting. I do that with the curly kale but I’ve found a knife easier with the dinosaur kale.

          Hope that helps.

          • This is helpful. I have cooked with the stems though, and it’s ok. I do it because often the only kale I can buy at the local grocery store is a big bag (3 pounds or so) of chopped kale that includes the stem. De-stemming would take forever!

            When I’m able to buy the bunches of kale (which so far seems to be only during the winter), I do cut out the stems.

  3. Thank you for posting about kale today. Someone gave me kale seeds this year and I was ready to re-gift them because I didn’t think I could do anything with kale.

    I will definitely be planting a row for my fall garden. Thanks, Mary!

    • Mary Curry says:

      Excellent, Maria! Let us know how it goes. I wish I had a garden to plant my own vegetables. All I can manage here is a window garden.

  4. Diane Gaston says:

    Hi, Mary!
    My daughter, the vegetarian, became very interested in kale and made the kale chips (yum) and was gung-ho on using kale alot when my husband took an aversion to the smell of it! A huge aversion.
    It all happened while I was at RWA so I don’t know what went on, if some spoiled or if it was the smell of it cooking…I’m disappointed, because I’d like to try using it!

    • Mary Curry says:

      Hi Diane,
      It does smell really bad when it spoils. I was wondering what the rotten smell was coming from my freezer the other day. Turns out there was a bag of Kale down in the vegetable drawer that I’d forgotten about when I put a new one on top of it. UGH! But as soon as I trashed it, the smell went away so maybe you can try again.

      My husband reluctantly agreed to try some tonight when I make a saute of it to go along with his baked ziti. I think I wore him down. Normally I just cook it and then toss it in my portion of the food.

  5. Tawny Weber says:

    Yummmmmm. This looks so good. I’m excited to try the soup recipe and might give the chips a shot, too 😀 Mary, I love your post – thanks for sharing your Kale Wisdom with us 😀

  6. T. Anne says:

    My parents have been growing dinosaur Kale for as long as I can remember. They kept calling it spinach. They fed it to us at least three times a week. It definitely has a different flavor than spinach but it’s tasty just the same!

    • Mary Curry says:

      T.Anne, I’ve been using the curly, but I actually just bought some of the dinosaur kale for dinner tonight. I’m curious to know how different the taste is.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Dru says:

    Growing up we ate Kale which I did not like, but I may give the Kale chips a try.

    • Hamid says:

      I tried juicing kale once. Once. If you have a cchnae to try kale juice some time don’t.But! That put me off kale for a long time. But recently an article in Bon Appetit singing its praises had me reconsider. The easiest way is sliced in 1/2 ribbons and stir-fried in a smoking hot wok with little slivers of garlic thrown in now and then, and sea salt. If they get a little scorched around the edge in a couple of places, good. Do them in small batches, until they’re bright green. A bit of sea salt and that’s it.I’ve been trying other things. Adding some Ethiopian Berbere was fantastic. Would be good with cottage cheese and niter kebbeh, too.Or, throw in some raisins and scallions, a pat of butter, and a tablespoon of olive oil, sea salt, and a teaspoon or two of sugar and stir. Kind of a rugged version of espinacas catalanas.If you don’t believe, me, well, too bad for you. Here’s one last testimonial. I planted four kale in my garden this morning, and my five-year-old shouted, Mmm! I love kale!

  8. Mary Curry says:

    Kale seems to be one vegetable my mother never fed us, Dru. At least not that I know of.

    I know they sound odd, but the kale chips really are good and super easy to make.

  9. Wow, two for the price of one. An interesting blog I haven’t seen before and a veggie I’ve never even thought of trying. Thanks, Mary!

  10. Julie Musil says:

    Mary, this is excellent! I’ve never even eaten kale, but you make it sound good. I’m a fan of the adding sauce and mushroom soup to veggies, which is horrible for your health, I know.

    • Mary Curry says:

      Hi Julie!

      Sauces I like (too much). The mushroom soup still gives me bad memories. Not sure why really. Maybe you could add kale to your mushroom soup. 🙂

  11. Garry says:

    Thanks for the link Mary! Kale is by far my favorite green. Here’s something else I do with it – a green smoothie!

  12. These videos were addicting, Mary! I just spent a hour watching the ones you posted and then others in the series. And, I’d already spent nearly 90 minutes recovering from my gym workout by watching cooking shows on the PBS Create channel. 🙂 Again, I’m really looking forward to the next post in this series.

  13. Welcome, Mary!! Thanks for the tips. 🙂 Great post.

  14. […] weekly posts on vegetables and other sources, now is a good time for beets, many greens such as kale or collard; winter squashes such as acorn, butternut and pumpkin; cauliflower, potatoes (pretty […]

  15. […] Image courtesy of The Healthy Writer . […]

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