Archive of ‘Dirt Candy of the Week’ category

Hail the Kale

Five years ago, if you told me that kale would be one of the most popular vegetables at the market in the near future, I never would’ve believed you. Yet, here we are… and thank goodness! Turns out, kale is so delicious and comes in different tasty varieties such as Lacinato or Dinosaur, Tuscan, Curly, and Russian. Kale is the queen of leafy greens and the good news is that it’s loaded with everything you want and nothing you don’t. It is stacked with nutritional credentials and it’s low in calories.

by maple gioga

Kale has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk and more vitamin C than spinach. It’s also packed with vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, beta-carotene, chlorophyll, protein, antioxidants and much (much) more.

About the only thing it doesn’t have are carbs, fat and calories (it’s very low in each).

Kale is a specific healer to the liver immune system, according to The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Woods, and its juice is medicinal for treating stomach and duodenal ulcers.

Not sure how to prepare kale?

5 Ways to Prepare Kale

  1. Kale Chips – Simple to make and so delicious. Get your hands on some yummy vinegars, like a fig balsamic, and make some salt and vinegar chips. I buy my olive oil and vinegar from The Filling Station, located in Chelsea Market. Now that I am a Cambridge, MA resident, I order their Lemon Olive Oil and their Pomegranate Vinegar online and mix it up with my kale when making chips… oh man, it’s heavenly! Skip the potato chips and the popcorn and go to this great snack, anyway you want to prepare them.
  2. Sautéed Kale – A perfect hearty side dish. Sautee some shallots, sliced  baby bella mushrooms and garlic before adding the kale to the pan,
  3. Kale in Soup – Want to add a leafy green to your soup? Kale is the one to choose.  I use it in my white bean, mushroom, and farro soup and it is fabulous.
  4. Kale Juice – Here in Cambridge, I am affectionately known by some (mostly the staff at “my” Trader Joe’s) as “The Cleanse Lady.” Anyone who has tried my 3-Day Detox Cleanse knows that I am keen on using kale in my juices since it is quite possibly the healthiest thing to juice. Mix it with apples, carrot and a little lemon or in a smoothie with blueberries and mangoes.
  5. Kale + Grains – Kale is of my favorite ingredients to add to farro, barley, brown rice, pasta or any kind of noodle.


I recommend using young baby kale in salads. The older kale gets, the more its bitter tone increases. It is a hearty leafy green, so if you’ve had it in the fridge for a while, it will require more cooking time.

Kale is very versatile and can be prepared in many ways. When using it in a salad, I often bake half of the kale required for the recipe and leave the other half raw. I have so many kale recipes that I can’t wait to share with you all (they are so yummy)! My goal is to get children to like kale. If anyone has a good kid-friendly kale recipe, let me know.

How to Buy Kale:

Choose crisp kale with bright, fresh color and no signs of yellowing, holes, decay or wilting.

Curly Kale- This is the kind that is probably the most popular in grocery stores.  It has a dark green color and is very hearty and pungent in flavor. Best to sauté with olive oil.

Lacinato- A variety with narrow, sweeter, milder, blue-green, heavily crinkled strap leaves impart excellent flavor, especially harvested young and after first frost.

Russian Kale- Delicious grey-green leaves turn purple in cold weather. Much larger than regular kale (2 to 3′ tall), the stems are purplish and the leaves are shaped like big oak leaves and colored a velvety gray green. The purple colors become richer after frost, when the flavor becomes sweeter. Surprisingly, the big leaves are very tender and delicious.

Garden Hints: Kale requires good cultivation; mulch or hoe frequently to keep soil loose and weed-free. Plants may be left outdoors all winter. Frost improves flavor.

How to Store Kale:

To store, wrap kale in paper towels and place in a plastic storage bag removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in the refrigerator where it will keep for 5 days. The longer it is stored, the bitterer its flavor becomes. Do not wash kale before storing because exposure to water encourages spoilage.


This is kale (amongst other produce) from my Dad’s garden. He taught me the importance of growing your own vegetables through his passion of gardening since before my time… he has been planting produce for 35 years! His birthday was yesterday and he is my favorite green thumb in the whole wide world, so this post is dedicated to my old man.

Totally Rad-ish


Radish & Fiddlehead Fern Bruschetta with Goat Cheese Spread

The radish is a ingredient with great potential, but many people I come across don’t realize that those ruby red globes are surprisingly versatile. I had a plea from my cousin, who happens to be my original partner in vegetarianism after she read my post on beets and she asked me, “Can you feature radishes one week? I have a fridge full from my CSA and I can’t think of anything to do with them besides using them in a basic salad. HELP!” This post will provide the nutritional benefits, tips, and recipe ideas for working with the entire radish and not just the root. Here is the dirt on radishes:


Why should we eat radishes anyway? 

Kids are usually urged to eat their broccoli or spinach at the dinner table, but rarely do we hear a parent bark the order “Eat your radishes!” Well, they should. Not only are the roots of these cruciferous vegetables nutritious, but so are their leaves. Actually, the leaves contain more Vitamin C, protein and calcium than their roots. Radish leaves have been used to treat kidney and skin disorders, fight cancer and even soothe insect bites.

Radishes are rich in folic acid, Vitamin C and anthocyanins. These nutrients make them a very effective cancer-fighting vegetable. It has been said that radishes are effective in fighting oral cancer, colon cancer and intestinal cancer as well as kidney and stomach cancers. Radishes also contain zinc, B-complex vitamins and phosphorus. All of these are very effective in treating skin disorders such as rashes and dry skin.


Want to lose some weight? Dieters should start munching on radishes since they are low in calories, cholesterol, and fat. They are high in roughage content which can make them useful in treating constipation. Radishes are great cleansers in general. They help relieve congestion and help aid in gallbladder and liver functions. Many drink radish juice to help to ease the digestive system and detoxify the body.


How to Store Radishes:

The Leaves- Radish greens don’t stay fresh for long. Separate them from the roots soon after harvesting or bringing them home from the market. Wash and store the leaves like other salad greens and eat them within a day or two.

The Root- Store radishes in a plastic bag in the crisper of the refrigerator and they should keep for at least a week.

 Ways to Prepare Radishes:

The challenge of working with radishes is that they have a very pungent and strong flavor. Some say that the greens are the best part of the radish with the most flavor. I bet many of you are surprised to read this because most people chop off the leafy greens and toss them in the garbage.

Guacamole reinveted

My lunch today: See guacamole reinvented recipe below.

Recipe Ideas:

Radish Fritters

Radish Green and Ricotta Gnocchi Served with Preserve Red Radishes on Top

Watermelon Radish Sorbet

Radish Sangria

Guacamole Reinvented

Radish Leaf Pesto

Rustic Radish Leaf Soup

Radish Soup with Creme Fraiche

Braised Radishes

Chopped Salad– I use this recipe often. It is so good!

Satay Noodle Salad

Radish and Butter Sandwich



The Beet Goes On

178903_935141711547_1933305260_n eat a beet

: Sometimes it seems as though autumn weekend were invented for the time spent walking through farmers markets. If you’re perusing the fresh produce and can’t choose what to sink your teeth into, let me make this decision for you: pick up some beets! These full-flavored globes have strong tops, and are smooth with either a deep, rich crimson hue or an inviting gold color. Sweet is the beet. They have a higher sugar content than most vegetables, which gives them an earthy sweetness, but they are also low in calories (they contain only 45 kcal/100 g), and contain only small amount of fat. Beets are full of cancer-fighting beta-carotene and folic acid, which can help prevent birth defects and are rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and magnesium. Their nutritional benefits come particularly from fiber, vitamins, minerals, and unique plant derived anti-oxidants. They are highly nutritious and a cardiovascular health-friendly root vegetables. Don’t throw away the leafy tops because they are also an excellent source of beta-carotene, iron and calcium. Cut the tall and flavorful greens to use in lieu of spinach, kale, or chard. 7bee078f76b771a3e913c58dac60513a

(Beet pasta!)

How to Store: Top greens should be used while they are fresh. Beetroot, however, can be kept in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Cut off the leaves and store the roots in an unsealed plastic bag in the fridge.

What to look for: In the store, choose fresh, bright, firm textured beets for rich flavor. Avoid those with a slump look and soft in consistency. Look for bunches of firm beets with fresh-looking greens; wilted beet greens don’t necessarily signal bad beets, but better-looking greens mean more vegetable for your money. Unless you’re planning to chop or grate them, choose a uniform-sized bunch so they’ll cook in the same amount of time. (Small to medium beets are generally more tender.)



(Beet margaritas are not the healthiest way to enjoy the vegetable, but they are fun & delicious!)

Preparing: Beets are very versatile. Juicing these red roots could help your heart, reports the journal Hypertension. Drink the juice straight or mix it with apple juice to add sweetness.Tender baby roots can be grated raw in salads. Mature beets can be boiled (better for smaller, younger beet) or wrapped in foil and baked (better for larger, older roots). To preserve the beet’s color and nutrients, rinse and brush clean but do not remove the skin or root until after cooking. Cook until a skewer easily penetrates to the core (anything from 40 minutes to 2½ hours boiling or 1½ to 3 hours baking at 350°F). You may want to wear rubber gloves when cutting and handling beet as the pigmentation leaves a pretty stubborn stain. The leaves can be cooked like spinach – steam uncovered in a pan with a small amount of boiling water (around ½” depth). They can also be sautéed with garlic and oil. Vegetables are always better with garlic and oil.