After divorcing sugar and later separating from gluten, I was on the rebound, looking for a stalwart staple I could count on for nourishment. Everyone raved about you, Kale. You had everything going for you: dark green good looks, nutrients up the wazoo, and incredible versatility: you could be blended, baked, steamed, fried and sautéed. Thanks to your status as a superfood, even being hailed as “the new beef”, you were readily available. My local supermarket carried organic bunches of your leafy lusciousness for 99 cents each. At such a tempting price, there was no reason not to have you in my life.
While we’d had an on-again-off-again fling in recent years, in the form of periodic sautés where I mixed you with garlic and tomatoes, our relationship didn’t start in earnest until 10 weeks ago when I began making smoothies each morning. Many (but not all) days I carefully washed 2-3 of your leaves, stalks and all, and popped them in the blender with less celebrated fruits and vegetables. Kale, you added a certain je ne sais quoi to the mix, a heartiness and deep color that reassured me about my new health regimen, strange as it was at first to pulverize you beyond recognition.
But lately something odd has been happening. I’ve become aware that sometimes, after our morning ritual in which I lovingly liquefy you, my face would flush, you know, like a post-coital blush except with the addition of an unpleasant tingle. Was I having premature hot flashes or was something else going on?
I started documenting my breakfasts on the days when my face turned red and my cheeks overheated. After this happened a few times, I reviewed my lists of foods and discovered that you, Kale, were on all of them. So were apples, pears and green tea, except I’ve eaten those fruits without incident my entire life and have consumed multiple cups of green tea, daily, for years. Perhaps, Kale, you were not my dietary knight in shining armor after all. Despite being hailed as an anti-inflammatory extraordinaire, you seemed to be inflaming my epidermis.
Kale, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Rather than summarily ditching you, too, I’m asking for a bit more space in our relationship. I suggest we stop spending mornings together and instead meet occasionally for dinner; let’s see if the heat of the stove or the oven transforms your molecules from mischievous to mild. If, after being cooked until you shrink and soften, my face glows with health rather than erupting in a rash, I’ll know that your raw, earthy stalks are simply too much for me so early in the day.
We shall see, Kale, if you are indeed a companion for life, an occasional friend with benefits or, alas, a bully of a borecole with side effects.
Haha – yes I find it’s useful to switch up my greens in my morning smoothie. Another thing is I eat brazil nuts (2-3) a day for the selenium and generally have nori and other seaweeds for the iodine, which can all help to sort out imbalances from too much kale (or other cruciferous veg).
Thanks, Laura, for your suggestions! I take selenium supplements but Brazil nuts sound more fun. Funny, I wasn’t using kale every day…now I’m going to skip it altogether, at least raw, for a while, and see what happens.
I’ve found that raw spinach leaves my throat with that scratchy feeling; I’ve never experienced the flushing. I believe lighty steaming the greens before blending will probably aliviate that flushed feeling.
Interesting…so far, spinach doesn’t bother me; I’ve eaten it raw in salads for years. But one reason I began making smoothies is to eat more raw foods..so much for that, at least when it comes to kale.
I cook my greens (steamed or sauteed) and eat them with butter. I’ve read that the beta-carotene in the butter is needed to digest the nutes in the greens. Tastes good, too! I’m fortunate to have a year-round farm in my neighborhood. I can change up between curly, lacinato, and Russian kale, rainbow chard, as well as bok choy, endive, tatsoi, and whatever other leafy goodness they plant. It’s always green, but it never gets boring!
Thanks for reading and for the suggestion. I love cooked greens, too (in butter or olive oil), yet had hoped I could eat them raw as well. True for spinach, just not kale!