Forks Over Knives

Let's Kale the Whole Thing Off

It’s never too late to learn new things about those you love. A recent misplaced bunch of spinach I’d bought resulted in a kale substitution in a favorite recipe, with no ill effects. This is a bigger deal than you might imagine, since spinach is so mild in flavor and kale so assertive. That got me wanting to try a new kale salad, to see if my family would also eat it, when it wasn’t slathered in a heavy peanut dressing. Short answer: they would.

Beet, Kale and Pine-Nut Salad

Beet, Kale and Pine-Nut Salad

I’m going to have to remember this salad for the holidays because it’s so beautiful, and I imagine using two colors of beets would only improve matters. I started with this recipe and made some modifications based on what I actually had on hand.

Roasted Beet, Kale and Pine-Nut Salad

1-2 medium beets, roasted, peeled, and sliced in eighths (you can also do them in the crock-pot)

1 big bunch of kale, de-stemmed and cut in ribbons (“chiffonaded”)

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 - 1/2 c dried cranberries (I bet pomegranate seeds would also work)

1/4 - 1/2 c pine nuts, toasted

Dressing:

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp citrus juice (I used cara cara orange because I didn’t have a lime)

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper

You can mix up the dressing and toss it with the salad ingredients (minus the pine nuts) up to an hour earlier, and that helps soften the kale. Then toss the pine nuts on and you’re good to go!

This recipe would almost qualify for my sister’s Forks over Knives diet month, except for the olive oil. She did say Forks over Knives likes to substitute tahini for olive oil, and you could probably get away with that here, except it might not be as pretty. Oh, and they also prefer maple syrup to honey because it doesn’t involve animals. That is, bees. I guess bees have to be called “animals” because they’re certainly not plants or rocks.

Speaking of classifications, if you wondered, as I did, “Is kale better for you than spinach?” I found this handy graphic from Prevention, although the commentary skews retirement-age…

kale-spinach-lrg-1520022242.jpg

Basically, you can’t go wrong with leafy green vegetables, so expand your range and try kale again on your family!

Bloom Where You're Planted in 2019

Since approximately 38% of Americans will get cancer in their lifetime, odds are someone close to you is in the 38%, if you yourself aren’t a member of the growing club. There’s also the heart disease club (15 million strong), the high blood pressure club (1 in 3 Americans), and the diabetes club (100 million members, including those who don’t yet know they’re headed that way).

In 2018 three bad cancer diagnoses struck those in my immediate circles. My father-in-law had multiple strokes, including the fatal one. My mom and sister have been on blood pressure medication for a while now. Well, we’re all going to die of something, but the something we’re going to die of varies, depending on where we live in the world and our diet. For Americans, statistically speaking, I’ve already named your eventual killer. The interesting thing about those killers is that their incidence is directly correlated with diet. Generally speaking, the more western the diet, the more your killer will take the form of cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Escaping the West’s most feared diseases is a colorful experience [Photo by  Allie Smith  on  Unsplash   ]

Escaping the West’s most feared diseases is a colorful experience [Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash ]

So I was surprised and excited to hear that my sister and her husband had seen a documentary on Netflix called Forks Over Knives and were going to try “going vegan” for a month or more. After watching the documentary myself last night, I realize “going vegan” is not an exact description of the food revamp, but it’s pretty close. Basically, the doctors and biochemists and nutritionists profiled in the show have become convinced of the overwhelming benefits of a “plant-based, whole-food diet.” Meaning, basically, a “vegan” diet because it’s free of animal products, but more specifically, it’s also free of oils(!) and processed foods.

Unless you’re a lobbyist for Big Food, I doubt anyone would find problems with their food recommendations. Of course fruits and vegetables and whole grains are better for you—the question is, can you stand to eat that way for the rest of your life, even if it makes that life shorter and unhealthier? I love whole-fat dairy myself: whole milk, sour cream, butter, and eggs. But the documentary has some pretty interesting and—unfortunately—compelling data on the benefits of purging your diet of animal products. The most intriguing was the data on Norwegians during WWII. When the Nazis arrived in Norway and commandeered all the Norwegian livestock, leaving the citizens to make-do on a plant-based diet, cardiovascular-disease incidents plummeted. After the war and the return of a “normal” diet, the disease rates also quickly returned to their corresponding “normal.”

There was even an interesting segment on high-performance athletes who stick to the same plant-based diet. Since I have a competitive swimmer in the house, I’ve always thought I have to keep up the meat-based protein levels. However, since the boy also likes black beans and sweet potatoes, I’m thinking we could safely veg out a little more. The Forks Over Knives website has some good-looking recipes I’d like to try, including this one for Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas.

Will yours look this good? Only time will tell. [pic from their website]

Will yours look this good? Only time will tell. [pic from their website]

After watching the show, my husband turned to me and said he would be willing to try going plant-based/whole-food, but, moderate that I am, I think that, if you aren’t diagnosed with something awful yet, will a daily egg, cup of milk, 1/2 Tbsp of butter, and Tbsp of olive oil be that bad? Probably not. Would pastured meat 2-3 times per week finish you off? Maybe, but it’d take a long while.

Whatever your health state of affairs, veering plant-based/whole-food can only help matters. And if doing it for your health doesn’t excite you sufficiently, maybe being ahead of the trend curve will? I’m betting you’ve heard about the global diet recommended by the international EAT-Lancet Commission. The commission espoused a diet worldwide of eating a certain (low) amount of meat, so that the planet can support and sustain us all. How low an amount? Well, for Americans, “84% less red meat but six times more beans and lentils .” The global diet allows for dairy, but its overall moderate consumption of animal products makes it look like one I could get on board with.

If your cholesterol and blood pressure have been creeping up with the years, consider shifting toward plants in 2019 and blooming where you’re planted.