Brassicas: My Beloveds

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A few months back I shared my love of cabbage with all of you.  But maybe I wasn’t being specific enough, or not general enough, depending upon how you look at it.  In actuality I harbor a secret love for all brassicas.  Cabbage, kale, collards, cauliflower. I adore all of them.

So, you can imagine my thrill when I found //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=makofahom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1607745712&asins=1607745712&linkId=82bdfd62229e8cf86f4ef4e04b84e03c&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables at the library last week.  I was immediately smitten, and for good reason:  an entire book, all about my favorite genus of veggies!

This week our kitchen has been brimming (albeit a bit stinky) with so many fabulous dishes featuring these amazingly healthy, nourishing plants.

Kale Cubes

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Every November, we find ourselves with an overabundance of kale that gets hit with a hard frost and dies.  It always makes me feel just sick to know all of that healthy vegetation has gone to waste and ends up in the compost bin.  This year my husband came up with a great idea:  kale cubes.

When my oldest daughter was a baby, we made her baby food.  We threw a bunch of fruit and veggies in a blender with a bit of water, pureed it, and then froze it in ice cube trays.  Once the cubes froze, we popped the cubes out into a gallon-size freezer bag.  That way, at mealtime, we would just take out the cubes we wanted, heat them up, and viola…ready-to-eat baby food.  So, last week my husband came up with the brilliant idea to do this same thing with our kale!  Then that way, once winter settles in and we are longing for some healthy greens, we can pop a couple of our kale cubes into our blender to add some nutrients to our morning smoothies.

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All I did was harvest and wash some of our kale, threw it in our Vitamix with about one cup of water, pureed it until the mixture was nearly smooth, poured the puree into ice cube trays and popped them in the freezer.  The next day, I popped out the cubes and put them in a gallon-sized freezer bag.  Now they are all set for those February morning breakfast smoothies 🙂

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“Let Food Be Thy Medicine” Smoothie

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Behind us now are those holiday parties and all the delicious goodies that pair so nicely with them, and my family is attempting to get back on track and return to nourishing our bodies as we know they should be.

Most days I make this smoothie for my girls and I, and it dawned on me this morning that I have never shared this recipe with all of you.  It is a smoothie recipe I have tweaked over the past couple years as my knowledge of using food as medicine broadened.  After a great deal of trail and error, we have found this smoothie meets our needs, while also leaving us with a smile on our face as we begin each day.  It is packed with so much goodness, yet tastes great and has a consistency very similar to a milk shake (but with no dairy or sugar!).

This smoothie recipe is vegan and gluten free, and makes about 6 cups.  I hope you enjoy!

“Let Food Be Thy Medicine” Smoothie

1 can coconut milk

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1/4 lime juice

1 avocado

1 apple

1 cup fresh kale (firmly packed)

1 handful watercress

1 handful cilantro

1 strip dried Kombu (or seaweed of choice)

2 cups frozen berry mix (strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries)

2 tablespoons hemp seed hearts

1 teaspoon stevia

1 tablespoon bentonite clay (0ptional…Bentonite clay supplies a wealth of dietary nutrients, as well as acting as an expeller of toxins from the body.)

Place all ingredients in a blender and run until it reaches your desired consistency.  (I have a Vitamix and it mixes up quite nicely.  However, I have used a run-of-the-mill blender to make this smoothie and it works well too.)

Pesto with a Kick

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I love making pesto with early summer greens.  It just makes me feel good.  It’s green. It’s a great way to pack tons of vitamins and minerals in my kids’ bodies.  And, there is cheese in it, and anything with cheese is a must have in my book.

I have written about making pesto before, like in this post, where I also discuss how I preserve my pesto for those Midwestern days when there is no green growing outside.  This pesto is a bit different in that I didn’t use any herbs to impart flavor.  This time I used kale and mustard greens.  If you have never had mustard greens, they are amazing.  They are incredibly earthy tasting, but very spicy.  They are also another one of those cruciferous vegetables that have fabulous health benefits.  I like to think of this pesto recipe as a cruciferous cancer-fighting bomb of deliciousness 🙂

This recipe made a giant batch of pesto, so feel free to adjust as needed.  You may also need to make it in batches, depending upon the size of your food processor.

Here’s what to do:

1.  Wash and spin dry (I adore my salad and berry spinner.  Summer would not be the same without it.  I use it Every. Single. Day.) 5 cups of kale and 3 cups of mustard greens.  (Fyi…I jam packed the greens in the cups when measuring.) Set aside.

2.  In a food processor, combine 1 cup raw walnuts and 6 cloves of garlic.  Pulse them in the processor.

3.  Add the washed greens to the food processor.  (Again, you may need to do this in batches.)

4.  Slowly add in 1/2 cups olive oil while the food processor is running.

5.  Add 1/2 pound good shredded Parmesan cheese to the food processor.

6.  Slowly add an additional 1/2 cup to 1 cup of olive oil depending on the consistency you would like.

7.  Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Enjoy!

Fall Planting and Harvest

Upon our return from Disney, it was to the garden we went for some fall harvesting and some more planting.  We came home to our second round of beans, ready and waiting for us on the vine.  They were a very welcomed surprise after eating a bit too much non-homegrown food on our trip.

There were also about 80 tomatoes begging to be picked, and a whole lot of raspberries ripe and ready for a little princess to pick for her afternoon snack.

We then set to planting our new beds with some cold-hardy greens.  We are hoping to add a hoop house or some type of low tunnel over these beds once the frost sets in. (Even though that seems very far off at the moment, as I listen to my air conditioner humming at this precise moment, when it is a whopping 90 degrees again today.)