Favorite Foods for Vision - Kale

Everyone has a few favorite foods. If you are interested in healthy eyes and great eyesight, then kale should become one of your favorite foods. I will highlight other favorite foods for vision as this series progresses. However, this article is specifically about kale. It is about how to cook kale so it tastes good!Route 79 Saag

This article should be of interest to anyone with glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration or poor night vision. It also applies to anyone who wants to avoid eye diseases like those mentioned or others. In addition, athletes who depend on quick reflexes and good vision should take notice of kale.

Kale is one of the best foods for your eyes.

Kale provides more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food. Kale is especially rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and minerals, all of which are very good for the eyes.

I will go into more detail about the nutrients in kale in another article. For now, let's just stick to finding a way to make kale taste good enough to eat regularly.

Below is a recipe I created a couple days ago. I decided to see if I could come up with a tasty recipe for kale that would make it one of my favorite foods from both a nutritional standpoint as well as a taste perspective. I am still experimenting with this recipe, and I welcome your comments and suggestions.

My criteria are as follows:

  1. Kale must be the main ingredient in the dish.
  2. The dish must taste good.
  3. I must feel good and energetic after eating it. I should also be satisfied. I don't want to be hungry again in a couple hours.
  4. It must be fast and easy to cook. I don't have time to cook complicated dishes. I also don't like to wash a lot of pots or dishes. I like my cooking easy and simple.
  5. The kale must be cooked. Cooked kale is more nutritious (and it tastes better).
  6. The dish should ideally include all six tastes (sweet, sour, salt, bitter, astringent, pungent/spicy). If you are not familiar with this concept, don't freak out. The final dish will not taste spicy-hot, and neither will it be bitter. The goal is that the tastes all blend in a way that is very appetizing.
  7. The dish should be generally good for all body types (all doshas, to use an ayurvedic term).
  8. With minor adjustments to the spices/condiments, the dish should be good for almost any person's specific body type. If you know your ayurvedic body type, you should be able to easily adjust the spices for your own body type.
  9. I try to eat foods that are good for pitta and vata. Foods that are good for pitta are generally good for the eyes. Foods that are good for vata are generally good for people who live very busy or hectic lifestyles. If this sounds like you, you can leave the spices exactly as they are shown below (at least until you get around to having a consultation with an ayurvedic specialist who can give you a more specific recommendation).

I'm going to show you what I have come up with so far. This dish includes all six tastes because, if for no other reason, it includes a little garlic (which has all tastes except salty) and a little salt. However, even without the garlic, I believe it is well-balanced in terms of the tastes.

At this point, I am still undecided on which type of sugar to use. As you will see below, the recipe includes the very small amount of 1/2 tsp of natural, organic date sugar. However, I am not sure that date sugar is the best sugar to use in this recipe. I generally do not use any sugar, but for some dishes it actually enhances the nutritional value because of the way it balances the tastes.

(Using sugar to make food more nutritious is an ayurvedic concept. If you aren't familiar with it, for now you can either ignore it or just accept my position that natural sugar is not always bad. A few years ago I know the average American consumed over 125 pounds of processed sugar per year! The figure has gone up since then. I personally consume less than a fraction of 1 pound of sugar per year and it is only from natural sources such as the date sugar in this recipe. So if you avoid sugar as much as I do, take notice that it is included in this recipe for a good reason. It makes the dish healthier.)

The main reason I include the garlic is because my ophthalmologist recommended that I eat a lot of garlic. Also, I don’t usually eat much ginger in the summer, but it compliments the kale. Those are the kinds of details I will continue experimenting with. Some of my well-educated Ayurvedic friends will probably help me perfect these details.

All the ingredients, including the spices are organic. The only exception is the kale itself. I haven't found a source of organic kale. For now, I use the fresh kale that is washed and ready to cook. I do not use frozen or canned kale.

This recipe makes enough to fill me up for my main meal of the day. If you offer this as a side dish, it would serve 3-5 people.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Kale greens (chopped)
    (other leafy greens would work, of course, but this article is about kale)
  • a handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 small to medium yellow squash (use any in-season veggies you wish)
  • 1/2 small to medium zucchini (use any in-season veggies you wish)
  • 1 handful of green beans (optional)
    (cut into small-medium pieces - the size is not important because they will be ground up)
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger (I use ½ inch of a typical diameter root)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 tbsp ghee
    Don't use butter. Butter and ghee are not the same.  Ghee lowers bad cholesterol.
  • 1 1/2  tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of hing
  • 1 tbsp dried coconut flakes
  • 1/2 tsp natural rock salt
  • 1/2 tsp natural date sugar

Many people may want to use a little more salt and sugar for taste.

Directions

  1. Heat a large pot on low until bottom reaches about 310 degrees inside. For me, this take about 5 minutes at #2 on an electric stove with a knob that goes from 1 to 10.
  2. Add the ghee. The ghee should reach about 300 degrees right away.
  3. Turn the heat as low as possible so the ghee doesn’t get any hotter than 310 degrees. I turn my stove down from #2 to just above #1.
  4. Add all the whole seed spices and sauté for 1 minute. You should see bubbles (prana) coming from the mustard seeds.
  5. Make sure the ghee isn’t too hot. If it is, remove the pot from the heat for a little while. The maximum temperature the the ghee should reach is 350 degrees F. I try to stay around 300.
  6. Add the ground spices and sauté for about 1 minute or less.
  7. Add the kale greens (and the green beans if you included them) and stir so that the ghee/spice mixture covers the greens.
  8. Add the salt and coconut flakes right away.
  9. Cook the kale for about 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. No water is needed. I turn the heat up a little bit. I turn my stove back up to #2 or a bit less.
  10. After about 20 minutes, put the partially-cooked kale into a food processor together with the carrot, squash, zucchini, garlic clove, ginger, and cilantro (and any other veggies you are using). Process until the mixture is completely ground fine, with a texture like the saag found at Indian restaurants.
  11. Return the veggie mixture to the large pot, add the sugar, and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  12. Serve hot.

I would love to hear your comments. Let me know how it tastes, and most importantly, how good you feel after eating this. I didn't design this dish purely for taste, so don't expect it to be super duper delicious. But I hope that it tastes good enough to make you look forward to eating kale, as it has done for me. Over time, this dish should improve your vision. You'll probably notice it first in your night vision.

Here are some links to other recipes where you could use kale. I have not taste tested these. And none of them are as healthy as the recipe I present above.