Kale and Chard: A Burning Sensation

Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same stupid thing over and over again with the same results — not learning the lesson — and I must confess that applies to me here!

I grow a lot of chard and spinach and lettuce and kale. They all seem to thrive at Casa de Enchanted Seashells. I cook some, freeze some, annoy everyone by putting it in every baked good from brownies to cookies, and I love to eat it raw.

That’s where this started. For a while, I’ve been picking chard and kale while I’m outside gardening, just to enjoy being Mother Earth in action.

For a similarly long time, I’ve noticed that after I eat raw kale and chard and sometimes spinach, my throat starts to burn, not like I ate something spicy, but like I mixed bleach and ammonia and inhaled it (yes, I’ve done that, too, accidentally of course).

After several experiences of this painful throat, I finally did what I should have done the first time, I GOOGLED the symptoms.

Lo and behold, it’s a THING.

Maria Hepler, RDN, CLT: Calcium, which is an essential nutrient for strong bones, can be found in many green leafy vegetables, such as collard greens, spinach, mustard greens, kale, and Swiss chard.

However, oxalic acid, an organic acid found in spinach, chard, and beet greens, and moderately in kale, among other plants, binds with the calcium they supply and reduces its absorption, so in their raw form these should not be considered a good source of calcium.

What are the symptoms that one has eaten too much oxalic acid?  These include burning in the mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, weakness, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Spinach contains phytic acid and oxalic acid. It may be better to steam the spinach and not to eat it raw.

For sensitive individuals, even small quantities of oxalic acid  eaten regularly can lead to kidney stones or bladder crystals, along with the problem of calcium depletion. 

Does this mean we shouldn’t add kale or other greens that contain oxalic acid to our smoothies? Not necessarily. Cooking or steaming these vegetables can significantly reduce the amount of oxalic acid present, which will help with calcium absorption (make sure to drain your greens thoroughly as the oxalates go in the water).

If this is a concern, it’s best to precook leafy greens and store them in the freezer (in individual portions) for quick access.

I never used to notice this reaction to acidity in raw greens but now that I know, I will definitely stick to picking lettuce for my garden treats.

Super Healthy Vegan Protein Smoothie

Happy Sunday!

The color of this smoothie was such a gorgeous jade green, I just had to pour it in a pretty cocktail glass and take a pic.

Ingredients:

+Vegan Pea Protein
+Moringa powder (Organic)
+Wheat grass powder (Organic)
+Spirulina powder (Organic)
+Kale
+Banana
+Mango Peach Juice

So easy; toss it all in a blender and enjoy!

Keep It Simple With Brown Rice, Kale, and Tofu #MeatlessMonday

Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen a huge increase in the numbers of vegan blogs and vegan recipes (YAY!) but it seems that they’re getting more and more elaborate, as if it’s a sort of competition to create the most difficult-to-prepare meals.

I’m sending a more simple back-to-basics message.

If we agree that one of the reasons for not eating meat advocates for a cruelty-free life to protect animals from a hellish existence on earth, we need to also communicate that it doesn’t always have to be a herculean task to do the right thing.

I’ve been a veg since 1970 and in those 40+ years have seen a lot of people make a similar decision to go meat-free and then, for one reason or another, fall off the wagon.

One of the reasons I’ve heard time and time again is that it’s “too hard”.

I disagree.

Some of my most enjoyable and satisfying meals are the most simple.

Here’s an example of a basic, easy-to-prepare dinner.

Start with my can’t fail One Dish Brown Rice recipe.

It’s PERFECT every time.

1. Add one cup brown rice to a 9×9 glass baking dish.

2. Pour over the rice not quite two cups water plus one teaspoon olive oil.

3. Lay gently on top of the rice one-inch chunks of tofu.

4. Sprinkle pepper, chopped fresh herbs, freshly ground salt (if you must).

5. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.

6. While the rice is baking, I picked a bunch of kale from the garden, cut into bite-size pieces, and steamed it.

7. To serve, sprinkle rice with low-sodium soy sauce, slice an organic tomato and garnish with cilantro or parsley (we grow cilantro year-round in the Casa de Enchanted Seashells garden.

A chilled chardonnay will dance a tango on your palate and complement the earthy rice, tofu, and kale combo.

Simple. Delicious.