Growing Kale for the Apocalypse – Part 1

First of all, yes, I AM one of those crazy nutballs who thinks there might possibly be a crisis of apocalyptic proportions headed our way.  I have my doubts about the flaming asteroid and zombie theories, but I do think there is a very real possibility that our lifestyle choices may lead to epidemic sickness, poverty and major hiccups in a seriously flawed industrial food system. 

I don’t know about you, but I like to be prepared.  Blame it on my back-woods Alaska upbringing, but when those zombies start to swarm, I want my community to be ready, and I’m pretty sure the answer to this is kale.  Hear me out. 

Top 5 reasons to grow kale for the apocalypse:

1. Kale, is hands-down the easiest thing to grow in my garden – all year round – and it and many of its brassica cousins will grow without much fuss, pretty much anywhere other than the desert.  If you live in the desert, you need to move.  Right now.

2. Kale is tasty.  I realize you may need some convincing.  I will dedicate some time to this later and in future posts.  But seriously, people – olive oil, garlic and salt can make even cardboard taste good.  Am I right?

3. Kale is super nutritious. In addition to most of the vitamins you’ve ever heard of, kale also contains Calcium, Iron, fiber and even protein.  If you combine  it with a whole grain you will have just about all the nutrients you need to fight zombies.  Plus, and I cannot stress the importance of this enough, you will be regular. 

4. Kale can be eaten raw, cooked, pickled, fermented –  it keeps well even after you pick it, so if you need to be on the move, you can take a munchy kale snack, a jar full of kale seeds, and get on the bus Gus.

5. No one wants to steal your kale. When the feces hits the fan, and roving bands of hooligans come looking for loot at your house, they will not be looking for kale. I’m all for planting fruit trees and having chickens and making your own butter and whatnot, but in the apocalypse, those things will become “loot”.  They may mysteriously disappear, while your kale will always be there for you!

Now that I have convinced you of the worthiness of kale in your apocalypse emergency kit – let’s start with step #1 to growing kale for the apocalypse.  You might think that the first step would be preparing the soil, or planting some  seeds.  But before you tear out your lawn and plant kale there instead, I think its best to start with:

Step 1: Learn to love eating kale, delicious kale.

If you don’t already love kale, let’s start now.  Here is a really simple sauteed kale recipe, that you can make with most any green (kale, chard, beet greens, turnip greens, radish tops…).  I make it for dinner, often with mashed potatoes and a protein of some sort.  And then the next day I can have my Favorite Breakfast Ever (pictured above): Mashed potatoes with crispy kale and a fried egg.  Yum.

Simple Sauteed Kale

1 large bunch kale, stems/ribs removed, leaves roughly chopped

1 large clove garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

splash balsamic vinegar

Start with a large pan, heat it over medium-high heat until hot.  Add the oil, then add the kale leaves, stir and cover to wilt for about 1 minute. Uncover and stir once, letting the kale get a little bit crispy at the edges for about a minute.  Add the garlic and a good sprinkle of kosher salt, stir and cook just 30 seconds more, until the garlic smells great, but before it starts to brown. Turn off heat and taste for seasoning.  Add a splash of balsamic and enjoy!

For breakfast the next day (aka my Favorite Breakfast Ever): Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat, and add a couple tablespoons olive oil. When hot, crack in an egg, and next to that put a pile of cooked kale, and a pile of mashed potatoes.  When you flip the egg, also stir the kale and potatoes so they are warm through, but also a bit crispy at the edges.  Pile the potatoes & kale on a plate, top with the egg.  Add anything else you like (sriracha, cheese..) and Enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 2….

Super Nutty Granola

February is Heart Health Month, so do something nice for your loves this month and make them some super nutty granola (Happy Valentines Birthday Poo-Pooh!)!  The oats, quinoa, seeds, nuts and fruits are full of fiber to help reduce cholesterol; and fruit (and vegetables) contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that help prevent heart disease.  Adding just 1 serving of fruits or vegetables (1/2 Cup) a day can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 4%!

In addition to being healthy, the coconut and citrus make the granola smell so great while baking that you will want to eat it even before its ready.  Coconut oil is available at your local grocery store in the natural foods section, near the olive oil.  It is saturated fat, so it is solid at room temperature.  However, it has a different structure than animal saturated fats, and so reacts differently in the body.  Coconut oil is preferentially used for energy, while animal fat tends to get stored in our bodies as adipose and contribute to high cholesterol and fatty plaques (atherosclerosis) – cool! 

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Heidi Swanson’s book Super Natural Cooking.  She has a great foodblog that focuses on whole natural foods with great recipes, check it out: 101cookbooks.com

Super Nutty Granola – Makes about 8 Cups

3 Cups old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 Cup quinoa, rinsed and drained (or use another 1/2 cup of rolled oats)

1/2 Cup raw sunflower seeds

1 Cup raw walnut halves

1 Cup raw almonds

1 Cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 Organic orange (washed)

1 Organic grapefruit (washed) (Or use another orange)

1/4 Cup virgin coconut oil

1/2 Cup honey

1 Cup dried fruit (I like goji berries and chopped candied ginger – also try dried peaches and cherries)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix the oats, quinoa, sunflower seeds, nuts and coconut.  Zest the orange and grapefruit into the bowl using a microplane or smallest holes on your grater and mix well.  Try to avoid getting the white stuff just below the bright orange/yellow zest – it is bitter.  (To avoid seasoning your food with waxes and pesticides, always choose organic fruit for zesting.)

Heat the coconut oil and honey over medium-low heat.  Set a small strainer over the pan and squeeze in the juice from the orange and grapefruit.  Compost any seeds or pulp collected in the strainer along with the citrus peels.  Once the coconut oil has melted, stir well to blend everything together.  Pour over the oat & nut mixture and stir until evenly coated.

Spread the granola evenly over 2 large rimmed baking sheets.  Bake for 40 minutes on two center racks, stirring the granola and rotating the pans (top to bottom) every 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Add the dried fruit of your choice and stir to combine.  Let the granola cool completely before storing in a sealed container.