Southern New Year's: Collard Greens & Black Eyed Peas

New Year’s Day in the south isn’t complete without black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread. We have a tradition in our family to eat black eyed peas to bring luck in the new year and collard greens to bring money. I typically am not a fan of this cruciferous vegetable, but I eat it at least once a year.

We had a New Year’s Day celebration, combining the best of the northern and southern traditions, with a menu of kielbasa, sauerkraut, pork chops, collard greens, black eyed peas and corn bread.

Collard greens are pure “soul food” and have been a staple of Southern cooking for years. Collards are a cross between cabbage and kale and are loaded with valuable cancer-fighting phyotochemicals.

Just like spinach, collards are loaded with calcium. One cup of collards provides as much calcium as in 8 ounces of milk and a whopping 5 grams of fiber. This nutritional powerhouse is also loaded with magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, A and K. You can get all of these vitamins, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are key nutrients for eye health, for a measly 49 calories per cup. Talk about getting the most bang for your buck! Speaking of buck, collard greens are also very inexpensive, especially when purchased fresh. Just make sure you clean them thoroughly before cooking.

I wish I had a great recipe I could share for collard greens, but sadly we just make them the easy way: from the can. It provides just as many key nutrients, but without the fuss. I wish you a very Happy New Year! May 2011 bring you luck, love and all of your heart’s desires.

I can’t believe that I started the 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth blog one year ago today. I’m looking forward to sharing more healthy foods, recipes and tips in 2011. I hope you stay with me in my journey to healthier eating in 2011. I’d love to hear from you. What would you like to see on this blog in 2011? Anything you want me to start doing? Stop doing? Continue doing? I’d love to hear your feedback.

Day 32: All Hail the Kale

I thought that kale was just that annoying green fluffy stuff that restaurants put on the side of your plate to “decorate” it. Boy was I wrong.

Do you remember the ORAC scale that I blogged about on Day 12 when I wrote about the health benefits of blueberries? Well, in case you don’t remember I’ll provide a little refresher…..the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale is the test used by the USDA and others to determine the antioxidant level of fruits and vegetables. Blueberries ranked #1 in the fruit category and kale ranked #1 in the vegetable category! Shocked again! I always thought that raspberries had the highest antioxidant level of any fruit and I assumed that spinach was the top vegetable (for some reason I always think of spinach as the healthiest vegetable. Maybe because of PopEye?) Kale received an ORAC rating of 1770, with spinach coming in second at 1260.

Kale is actually a relative of cabbage and contains powerful phytochemicals and cancer-fighting indoles, which are plant compounds that have been found to protect against breast, cervical and colon cancer. Kale is also high in sulforaphane, which I also blogged about in my post on broccoli on day 27 , which is great for removing free radicals and other chemicals that may cause cancer. A recent study in Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that sulforaphane helps stop breast cancer proliferation.

Additionally, kale contains phytonutrients that actually signal our genes to produce enzymes to detox our cells, eliminating harmful compounds. A study of Chinese women in Singapore, a city in which air pollution levels are often high putting stress on the detoxification capacity of residents’ lungs, found that in non-smokers, eating cruciferous vegetables lowered risk of lung cancer by 30%. In smokers, regular cruciferous vegetable consumption reduced lung cancer risk an amazing 69%!

Kale is also great for the eyes, as it contains two very important vision nutrients: Beta-Carotene and Vitamin A. One cup provides 192.4% of your Daily Value for Vitamin A and seven times the amount of beta-carotene as broccoli! Added bonus, 2 cups of kale has 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and only 66 calories.

So, how did I prepare my kale? A salad? Raw? Sautéed? Boiled? Nah, I didn’t go the traditional route, I made something absolutely amazing that you guys would never even believe could be done or taste good…..I made kale chips.

Yeah, you heard me right. I made kale chips, which is just like it sounds, crispy, salty, crunchy chips made with kale leaves. The best part: It was super easy and my three-year-old begged me for more!


  • 1 bunch of fresh kale
  • sea salt
  • garlic powder
  • oregano or italian seasoning
  • olive oil


If you would have told me a month ago that my daughter or I would enjoy eating kale, I wouldn’t believe you! I wasn’t even going to offer it to her because I thought she wouldn’t eat it, but she saw it come out of the oven and then asked me to try it. She not only ate the one I gave her, but she asked for another. My son, on the other hand, did not enjoy it. This challenge has taught me that you never know what you (or you kids) will like unless you try it. I have tried so many new foods in this first 31 days and I have been pleasantly surprised more than once.

Have you ever eaten kale? Have you ever been surprised by liking a food that you never thought you would like? Please share!

Day 27: Another Reason Why George Bush is a Tool

George Bush Sr. was quoted as saying, “I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m the President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”

C’mon, how can you not like broccoli? It is an innocuous vegetable. Broccoli is my favorite green vegetable of all time. We eat broccoli so frequently in my house that one argument between my kids erupted when my three-year old daughter said to her brother,  “Nuh, uh. Dinner is not ready. We don’t have broccoli on our plates yet!” Her brother won that argument because dinner was indeed ready, but broccoli was not on the menu that night.

So you can imagine my delight when Dr. Jonny Bowden describes broccoli as “vegetable royalty,” renowned for its’ cancer fighting ability. Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables. Other members of the family include swiss chard (which I tried for the first time & blogged about a couple of weeks ago,) bok choy, cabbage and kale. The secret cancer fighting ingredients in these guys are called isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens. Isothiocyanates help prevent lung and esophageal cancer, while lowering the risk of other cancers. Broccoli actually contains a particularly powerful isothiocyanate that is an inhibitor of mammary tumors.

The American Cancer Society recommends eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, in part because of the powerful compound – indole-3-carbinol.

Women: Listen up!

Indole-3-carbinol is particularly important to women because it reduces the risk of breast and cervical cancer. Indole-3-carbinol also increases the ratio of good/benign estrogen metabolite (2-hydroxyesterone) to the potentially harmful ones (16-alpha-hydroxyestrone and 4-hydroxyestrone.) Indole-3-carbinol is a strong antioxidant, stimulator of detoxifying enzymes and protects the structure of DNA.

Broccoli also has high levels of sulforaphane, which also helps fight carcinogens, particularly those associated with prostate cancer.

Broccoli is also great for dieters because one cup has only 30 calories, but has a whopping 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 288 mg potassium, 43 mg calcium, 81 mg of vitamin C, plus folate, magnesium, phosphorus, beta-carotene, vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin. Talk about bang for your buck! You get a ton of vitamins and nutrition for very little calories.

I prefer the Bird’s Eye Broccoli Florets steamed in the microwave. I also love to order steamed shrimp and broccoli at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Golden Palace. But, one of my favorite dishes that includes broccoli is my clean eating beef and broccoli. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Clean Beef and Broccoli

  • Flank Steak
  • Lite Soy Sauce
  • Broccoli Florets
  • Carrots

I simply stir-fry all of the ingredients together, starting with the flank steak (cut into thin strips), then adding the broccoli and carrots with the soy sauce. Dinner is on the table in minutes!

Do you have a favorite broccoli recipe? Please share!