My Struggle with Kale

I hate food trends. I’m not talking about resurgent smokehouses, revitalized canning, or offal introductions on menus. I am talking about the food trends of the general zeitgeist. The bacons and buffalo sauces and ranch dressings of the world. There is an entire restaurant dedicated to ranch dressing in St Louis. You know what? The Cardinals suck and so does your shitty ranch dressing restaurant.
fries Included in these trends, of course, is Kale. McDonalds is looking at introducing some kale. So is Starbucks. IT IS A SUPERFOOD. BEHOLD KALE AND DESPAIR. To be fair – it is good and it is good for you. This is not bacon ranch buffalo nacho tender flavor explosions at Applebees. It is chock full of the kind of nutrients your body needs to – you know – function as a body. These days, you can get a bag of it cleaned and chopped at Wegmans for less than 5 bucks.

There are two leafy produce purchases I make every single time I go to Wegmans. One is a bag of kale. The other is a tub of field green mixes. Again-less than 5 dollars. This is a cheap and efficient way for me to have a salad at lunch daily and to continue to insert more and more healthy behaviors into my daily food routine. Doesn’t that just sound fantastic? It’s the lifestyle choice equivalent of Julie Andrews spinning around in an Alpine Meadow. My fridge is alive with the sound of fresh greens.
saladgreens kalegreens
Then comes embarrassing laziness. I’m shitty tired some mornings and I don’t take 5 minutes to throw some greens in some Tupperware and take it to work. I won’t take the beans or quinoa or grain I made either. And then I get a hoagie at lunch. And then I tell myself that I will eat the salad and healthy meal for dinner. And then I get home and have a couple of beers and order shitty delivery and tell myself that it is all ok because I’ll get back on the green train tomorrow.

And, that would be okay – if that is where the bad behavior stopped. Oftentimes, it isn’t. I will dance in a hundred manifested excuses of tiredness, or stress, or having NO TIME OMG but in reality I just haven’t developed good habits yet. I need to break the bad ones first and I am trying. Trust me, I quit smoking cigarettes, I get how hard habit changing can be. I don’t need to feel bad about this or ashamed because I have my heart in the right place. Right?

The stinging failure comes at the end of the week when I have ignored my greens and the moisture has taken them from fresh to spoiled and I shuffle the bag to the trash as I notice the smell of rot just beginning to fill my kitchen. I am an asshole because letting fresh greens go to rot – to me- is such a worthless expression of laziness. Those rotted greens sure haven’t helped ameliorate my jiggly backside.
Last night, I opened my fridge and found my bag of kale 36 hours away from the trash can. In my defense, the tub of greens has been used actively for salads all week and I have been walking every day and I am really beginning to develop good habits. I wasn’t about to let this kale go to rot. Not now. No stinging failure this day. It’s Aragorn at the Black Gate time my friends and this isn’t for Frodo it is for the 22 year old version of myself I saw staring at me from a Drivers License I discovered recently. I used to be good looking and physically fit. The fridge is alive with the sound of fresh greens.
IMG_1985 I browned a little sausage (Linguica). Yes the pork kind. Not the best but it wasn’t much and seriously – changing a diet to something healthier is not an experiment in asceticism. I think it is about making more good choices – not going cold turkey on everything bad all at once. I threw a can of white beans in there. Sweet smoked paprika. Louisiana hot sauce. Cracked pepper. A little water. And simmer.
IMG_1986 I took the rest of the kale and baked it with a little olive oil, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder.  I took those kale chips and threw them on top of the spicy beans and had a pretty healthy dinner. No stinging failure this week.

This morning, as I prepared to leave my house and head for work, I almost didn’t pack my salad or my spicy beans. I wasn’t feeling it. I walked away and thought about going somewhere for lunch and then I got pissed at myself. I have been making progress. My healthy food tastes good and I can cook it well. Hell, I want to share this stuff with readers on a blog that I hope starts getting read by more people like me.

We are all in this together. We all struggle to be healthy. Sometimes you make the spicy beans and you take them to work and sometimes a bag of greens goes bad in the fridge. Either way – it is okay. I am hard on myself, and I need to be but what works for me might not work for you and vice versa. It’s about better choices, more frequently, over time – whatever those choices may be.

Except ranch dressing. That is never ever okay.

I’ll have my salad and beans at lunch today. I’ll be hot again soon.


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