I was initiated into the world of food activism in 1990. The flowerchild within (I was born a decade too late for the original action) got her ya-ya’s out when I got to march on 10 Downing Street in 1990 alongside Pamela Stephenson, Olivia Harrison, Barbara Bach, and many other celebrity moms with Parents for Safe Foods. Shockingly, much of the food industry and it’s practices have gone from bad to worse since then, but there have been no shortage of people like Michael Pollan and Jamie Oliver trying to make a stand. People are finally becoming aware and willing to question what their children are eating. According to Suzanne V., one of my website members, Prince George’s County School District in Maryland has taken notice. Let’s hope the reaction is contagious, and this becomes the norm across the country.


My wishful flowerchild childhood

When Suzanne and her husband attended their son’s kindergarten orientation for the upcoming school year, ”I was thrilled to learn that the school breakfast (yeah, breakfast too!) and lunches are created by a full time executive chef, a trainer, a full time registered dietitian and an agricultural director for the county. They use as much local produce as possible. Of course it does help that the school is about 15 minutes from the US Department Agricultural Research Center, nine miles from the White House, and they have a farmers market. Vendors, suppliers and manufacturers are required to submit a certified nutrient analysis of their products before they can be considered for use by the school breakfast and lunch program.”

Iowa soy bean field

“They adopted Jamie Oliver’s approach and The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and some other programs I hadn’t heard of before. They teach the kids, even kindergarten, nutrition education and they can go to the Agricultural Research Center for classes and use the Agricultural Research Center library whenever they want.” Good golly Miss Molly – you mean our youth will actually know french fries come from a potato and ketchup from a tomato? Even the school principals in the county are getting involved, they can raise money for their school by collecting compost. “They also noticed that with better nutrition, kids have higher test scores and exceed the county and state averages. That is a no brain-er to me but nice to see it documented.”

Reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

All I can say is – it’s about time! This is one of my favorite healthy snacks to get you off on the right path, and it might just be the way to get your greens-a-phobic kids to change their minds.

Crispy Kale

Crispy Kale

Crispy and salty like potato chips, but oh so much better for you! This is definitely a kid-friendly way to get the greens down your little (and big) rascals.

Servings: 4 (1-2 in my household)

INGREDIENTS:

1 large bunch of fresh kale, washed, and stalks removed
1 tablespoon olive oil, extra if it is an especially large bunch
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey roasted peanuts, crushed for garnish (optional)

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:

Choose just one for a flavorful variation

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/8 teaspoon Wasabi powder (sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds after baking)

DIRECTIONS:

1). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2). Spin or towel dry the washed kale. Toss with olive oil until it is all lightly coated. Spread kale evenly in a sheet pan, sprinkle with Kosher salt, black pepper, and one of the optional ingredients if you desire (it is great without the extra seasoning too).

3). Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, and remove. Turn oven temperature up to 425 F., toss the kale, and place back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

4). Sprinkle with crushed peanuts (optional), and serve immediately. On the rare occasion that there is any left, you can crisp it back up a preheated 425 degree oven for 2-3 minutes.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

This makes a great afternoon snack the kids will love, but I also like it sprinkled with Chinese five spice seasoning in place of potato chips with my Jewels Turkey-Jasmine Burgers. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on for garnish if you don’t like peanuts.

 

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  • June 16, 2011
    9:36 am

    YUM!!!
    There is another kale dish, a salad, that I haven’t been able to figure out yet. I had it at a Japanese restaurant. It had sesame seeds, soy sauce and probably toasted sesame seed oil. The kale must have been cooked and cooled because the kale was tender. Any ideas?

    Reply
    • June 16, 2011
      12:41 pm

      Maybe braise the kale in a little chicken broth or rice wine with ginger and garlic for more flavor?

      Reply
      • June 24, 2011
        11:52 am

        Oh, sorry. I just saw this. That sounds good. I’ll try it. I just got back from a farmers market. I can’t wait for dinner tonight!

      • July 3, 2011
        10:13 am

        The kale was probably not cooked. You can get raw kale soft by massaging a bit of salt into the leaves. I first wash the kale, remove the stems, and slice it into thin strips. Put the kale in a bowl, add a small amount of salt and start massaging. Let it rest for about 15 minutes and it will be soft. To make a great salad add chopped tomato, cucumber, lemon juice, and a bit of olive oil. Delish!

  • June 16, 2011
    12:31 pm

    It makes so much sense for schools to get involved with a child’s nutrition since children spend so much time in a school room, in many cases more time than they spend with their parents through week days. The only nutrition discussed when I was in school was when the female students were with a teacher in home economics or gym/health class and what was discussed was minimal. Mind you this was quite a few years ago, but I remember the lack of information even now. When I moved out on my own at the age of 18 I had to learn my way around food purchasing to get the most out of what money I could set aside for groceries. Since what I earned was minimal, I really had to budget so that the rent got paid, some of my pay was put into savings and some money was allocated for food. I remember eating a lot of pasta, processed white bread along with processed cheese. That first year on my own taught me a lot and I remember a friend leaving a package of ground meat at my flat door on my birthday. That was made into a pot of chili that I made last for a week. Nutrition was never discussed at home which I now think of with disbelief. I’m sure my family was not the only one who didn’t think to pass on such information to the kids. That’s a shame when this happens when it could have been quality time spent in the kitchen learning from one of my parents about how to put together a healthy meal. The only cooking we did together was baking or to throw together a quick meal when one parent got home from work and I got home from school. Truthfully, I’ve learned more about nutrition in the past year or so from you Jewels than I learned in the decades before I found your blog. I wonder if even now whether parents need a helping hand in the basics of nutrition. Maybe with Jamie Oliver and other chefs like yourself making this food movement come to the forefront of television programming along with the internet, the knowledge will come into family homes with the entire family working together to put good meals on the table. No parent wants to feed their children inadequate meals, but unless the parents were taught, it only makes meal time into a vicious cycle of take outs. Truth is, if every parent could learn about your PCA approach to meals Jewels, they would be armed with the knowledge they need to pass on to their children and start a food revolution right where it is so desperately needed, in their own kitchens. Then, bringing the revolution into the schools will be much easier because so many parents will demand it of the school boards.

    Reply
  • June 16, 2011
    12:39 pm

    Ruthee – I wish I could get ahold of Jamie, and team-up with him (trust me I’ve been trying to find a connection that can make it happen), because I do think the PCA™ is that missing link to keeping healthy food readily available at home too.

    Reply
  • June 18, 2011
    11:26 am

    Thanks for the great recipe!!

    Reply

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