Well Fed Owl Food News

March 14, 2013

Food Profile: Kale

Kale was not my food of choice when we first started eating healthy. Not even close! I found it bitter and tough and could not figure out how to make it taste even edible. SO, I stayed away from kale for quite some time although I knew it contained many health benefits I needed. I revisited this green last summer when, desperate for menopause relief, I began making green smoothies and fresh veggie juices. Much to my surprise, the more I tried it, the more I liked it. I was finally developing a taste for the hard to eat veggies...the brassicas! Yay!

I believe it all started with Joe the Juicer's Mean Green juice recipe calling for 6-8 leaves of kale. The quest for decent kale sent me looking for a good local farmer source which is actually where the idea for Well Fed Owl was born! Through green smoothies and juices I began developing a taste for greens such as Swiss chard, collards, cabbage, kale, and even mustard greens.

I began experimenting with quick sautes (so as to not lose the nutrients or destroy all the enzymes). Before I knew it, these hardy greens were on our table nearly every night, lightly sauteed in coconut oil , garlic, honey, and sesame seeds...maybe a little onion....and now we (my husband and I) crave them! Kale and these other greens even sneak into our salads, taco "lettuce", pizza topping, and into soup (see this week's soup recipe). Victory!

Why bother?

Increasing my blood pH could lower my risk of many diseases and help detoxify my body. I also knew I needed to increase my calcium intake without increasing my dairy intake....and whole food is always better than supplementation, although supplementation has it's place. I just hadn't fully recovered from a late term miscarriage and my body was also suddenly kicking into menopause....I needed help. Up to that point, I had gotten the bad stuff out of our diet but I had not done a very good job at getting living food into our diet. It was time!

Finally biting the bullet on increasing my raw, daily, veggie intake was a necessity. Kale for juicing and smoothies was a good bridge food for me to do this. It helped increase my iron levels, my energy, boost serotonin, regulate my hormones, cleanse my body, and fight off free radicals.

The brassica family of veggies is a powerful cancer fighting, health promoting food group containing powerful anti-oxidant flavonoids and anti-inflammatory benefits. Kale is loaded with a multitude of vitamins and minerals which play key roles in our immune system and metabolism.

Well, there you have it -- give it a try, and, if necessary, give it another try. Find out how to prepare kale in a way that works for you! It's so worth it!

Food Rules by Michael Pollen: "If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't!"

Help! How Do I Get My Family to Eat Healthy Foods?

A common challenge to eating a nutrient dense, whole foods diet is getting your family on board. For most of our journey so far, we've experienced many of these types of obstacles as well. My 14 year old son eats the greatest variety of foods of all 4 kids. My eldest daughter is now a wheat-free vegetarian who only eats a handful of a variety of vegetables, no probiotic or fermented foods, and only limited amounts of dairy. Our 12 year old daughter eats practically no fruits, veggies (bananas, apples, raw carrots, and occasionally a piece of lettuce), and zero legumes. The youngest eats most fruit but barely any meat and no veggies at all. Needless to say, preparing meals for our nest of picky eaters is challenging at best! But, we make do.

Here are a few things we have learned along the way which have helped out:

  • Set up some "food rules". Here are a few of ours: Everyone has to at least try the food that is prepared for them, just a taste. If they don't like what has been fixed for dinner, the only alternative is a PB&J on homemade whole wheat bread. On taco bar night, each person must add at least four ingredients to their tacos other than meat or cheese. Each person must have at least 5 servings of raw fruits and veggies/day somehow (carrot sticks, smoothies, fresh juiced juice, veggies and dip, salad, grab an apple or other fruit, etc.)...
  • In the beginning, I did a lot of healthifying of meals we already ate. I made mac and cheese with healthy ingredients, from scratch -- the same with Hamburger Helper, spaghetti and sauce, homemade pizza, lasagna, etc. Over time, I made these meals less often and substituted healthier ones or increased the nutrient density by adding healthier ingredients like lentil soup with salad and homemade bread.
  • We have certain "food nites" for the kids to look forward to: Mexican nite, Italian nite, baked potato bar nite, soup-salad-bread nite, breakfast for dinner nite, pizza nite...this makes it fun and predictable for the kids and has allowed us to move away from so many casseroles. I then add more raw food to the menu in the form of a raw fruit and veggie plate, salad, probiotic drink or raw fermented food, etc. It's a gradual process but it works.....and me? I continue to make the changes I know my body needs (my daily food intake goal is 70% raw fruits, nuts, and veggies, 2 liters water, 3 servings of fermented food or drink, wheat free, etc. The rest of the family isn't ready for that yet and it's fine with me. They are eating a well-balanced, nutrient dense, mostly chemical free diet and I'm satisfied with that for now.
  • It only takes a few days for the MSG and sugar to get out of their system. Once this happens, your family will be able to better taste the variety of flavor in the wonderful nutrient dense meals you are now preparing. All of our food prior to using individual ingredients had a homogeneous taste -- I used so much salt and flavoring to satisfy our chemically altered taste buds. Once we got the chemicals out of our systems, we could actually taste the chemicals in processed foods. I remember we went to a chain Italian restaurant a few after beginning this process and my daughter ordered a side of her favorite spaghetti.....she actually couldn't eat it because it tasted mushy and blah compared to the whole grain pastas she had finally gotten used to. Also, as your family begins to feel better, they will not want to go back to eating the junk. Last summer, my 13 year old twins and 11 year old (at that time) went away for a week of summer camp. The twin daughter eats pretty healthy and packed her own food to take along. However, when we picked them up from camp, my 13 year old son said he had eaten nothing but salad all week because he felt so tired and unable to focus after his first meal of processed food at camp. I was shocked.....but also pleased to know he could tell the difference. My 11 year old? She ate as much junk as she could while she could get it!
  • Have some "fun nights" so your kids don't feel restricted. We have an occasional junk food or ice cream night for fun....we don;t pig out but the kids enjoy the hang loose atmosphere -- it's a good time to rent a movie or go for a special meal or to the Jigger Shop for a famous sundae.
  • Get the family in the kitchen together. I have found that getting them involved in the process makes a big difference in heir desire to eat the food prepared. They usually start off grumpy but by the end we are all laughing, throwing potato peels, joking around and crating memories....and they are learning to cook, too!
  • Watch some of the health food documentaries together that explain what's in our food and why we want to eat the good stuff. This was HUGE for our family! They actually enjoyed learning about it -- many of the shows are quite entertaining....or at least shocking enough to hold their attention. I believe the first they watched was Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead -- they LOVED it and wanted to try a juice fast themselves by the end (Caleb lasted 6 hours -- but I let him try). Another great one is Hungry for Change which addressed the whole diet issue. Food Matters addressed sugar and other toxins....Fresh addressed the whole GMO, food lot meat issue.....I soon found that each time I put one on, I had a kid watching it with me. Tony, too!

So, there you have it -- just a few ideas!

Hope it helps! Let me know how it goes!

Well Fed Owl

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Recipe of the Week: Tuscan Soup

1/2 lb nitrate free bacon (I prefer Applegate Farms or Natures Promise)
1/2 lb chicken or turkey, nitrate free, all natural Italian sausage (I prefer hot)….I usually buy Shadybrook Farms, only kind I’ve found around here, Wegmans has a larger selection, I believe…..it’s sooooo good!
1 onion, chopped or pureed
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken stock (I use 4 c stock, 2 cups water)
4 med potatoes, cleaned and cubed
2 cups whole milk or cream
1 head kale, cleaned and chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon in soup pot, remove, chop small, set aside.
You can keep the bacon grease in pan if you wish for flavor or, if cutting back on fats, get rid of it…I use it.
Add sausage, onion, garlic to brown sausage — crumble sausage as you cook it.
Add potatoes and chicken stock, cover, cook til potatoes are tender and cooked through, 20-45 mins depending on kind of potato and size of cubes. You can either smash them a bit at this point or leave them cubed, personal preference. It’s good either way.
Turn stove to a simmer, add milk or cream, bacon, and kale, simmer 5-10 mins more.

Enjoy!!!!!! Super delicious without guilt or feeling heavy or indigestion after….so little grease and no chemicals.