All Hail Kale!!!!

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Maybe Pantone had in mind the crazy kale and juicing craze when they called out Emerald 17-5641 as 2013’s color of the year. Kale is such a hot commodity anymore. Trader Joe’s has a beautiful organic and chopped bag of kale that flies off the shelves. If you’re not there on truck day, you better wait until next week to get your hands on some! This last Saturday, I went to the Farmer’s Market thinking I could grab some up, but of course I got there two minutes too late, every vendor was sold out. So what’s the deal with this crunchy leafy cousin of your garden weed?

The Top 10 Benefits of Kale

1. Kale is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its great fiber content. It’s also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium as well as those listed below.

2. Kale is high in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.
3. Kale is high in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers.
5. Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
6. Kale is great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels.
 
7. Kale is high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
8. Kale is high in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.
9. Kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility
10. Kale is a great detox food. Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.
Now that you have that knowledge…what do you do with it?

Easy Ways to Prepare Kale

Quick cooking preserves kale’s nutrients, texture, color, and flavor. Rinse kale, chop it finely, and add it soups, stews, stir-frys, salads, egg dishes, or casseroles. Or top pizzas with kale for added nutritional goodness. Steam kale for five minutes to make it more tender or eat it raw. You can also substitute it for spinach or collard greens in recipes.

Other fast and easy ways to prepare kale:

  • Make a simple salad with a bunch of thinly sliced kale, red pepper, onion, raisins, and your favorite salad dressing.
  • Braise chopped kale and apples, garnish with chopped walnuts, and add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Toss whole-grain pasta with chopped kale, pine nuts, feta cheese, and a little olive oil.
  • Cover and cook a pound of chopped kale with a few garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes; season with salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
  • Make kale chips by slicing kale into bite-size pieces, toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven.

I juice kale!

There you have it! Best of luck on incorporating some kale into your life!!

Why So Villainous?

Artwork by Wendy Chew, http://mashi.deviantart.com/

There are days when I think, “Man, I’m surprised someone hasn’t slapped me!” just because for some odd reason, I am cranky. I constantly wonder if it’s sleep, that time of the month, stress, the outfit I am wearing, whatever, that is causing me to lash out. My usual solution is to keep my mouth shut until the day is over with, but after doing some perusing, I found an article on the Dr. Oz website that was all about crankiness and supposedly 6 reasons as to why you feel like a villain!

Ever feel like you hate everything and everyone? Or you reach your boiling point so quickly that chemists should study you? You’re not alone – more and more women are finding themselves extra cranky. Luckily, science has some explanations and solutions to offer. Learn the most common causes of crankiness and how to fight off your bad mood.

 1. Your Hormones

If you’ve noticed that your bad moods occur around the same time every month, the culprit could be your hormones. As women move through their monthly cycle, their ovaries produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone. One week before your period, your progesterone levels are at their peak and then they suddenly drop, which triggers crankiness.

PMS, short for premenstrual syndrome, is thought to be caused by these fluctuating hormone levels. Another change in hormone levels occurs during menopause, where your progesterone drops down to zero. This fluctuation can also lead to irritability.

 Solution: If you experience crankiness around these times, you have to build up your defenses. Studies have found that omega-3s can help prevent the symptoms of PMS and menopause. Take 600 mg of DHA omega-3s daily.

 

2. Caffeine

Consuming caffeine, even in moderation, can cause anxiety. Caffeine stimulates the brain, which makes it addictive. When people become addicted to caffeine, they may experience symptoms of withdrawal including headaches, fatigue and moodiness.

 Solution: You should only consume 200 mg or 2 (8 oz) cups of caffeinated beverages a day.

3. Not Eating Enough

Your brain needs glucose for energy. If your blood sugar levels are too low, you might feel sluggish, irritable and experience difficulty concentrating.

 Solution: To prevent low blood sugar, eat healthy snacks every 3 hours.

4. Your Bedroom

The correlation between sleep and your mood is no secret. But you could still be tired and cranky regardless of how early you hit the hay. Studies have shown that even dim light, for example the glow from your TV, reading lamp or even your alarm clock, in the bedroom may increases cases of depression. This light decreases the production of the hormone melatonin. Without steady levels of melatonin, your normal sleep patterns can become disturbed. Think about this the next time you wake up on the wrong side of bed.

 Solution: Do a lights-out check before bed. Turn off all the lights and try setting a sleep timer on the TV if that helps you fall asleep. Turn your alarm clock away from you.

5. Your Diet

The comfort food you grab when you’re in a bad mood could actually be the cause of your bad mood in the first place. Diets rich in trans and saturated fats have been linked to increased depression. Additionally, new studies indicate that these diets can negatively affect cognition. Junk food and fast food negatively affect the connections between your brain cells called synapses.

Solution: Look for foods packed with vitamins and minerals that will sustain you throughout the day instead of the fatty, sugary processed foods that may taste good, but leave you with no energy.

6. Your Thyroid

Your thyroid is a gland that makes the hormones that help to regulate your metabolism. In a condition called hypothyroidism, you experience a deficiency of thyroid hormone that leaves you fatigued, sluggish and depressed. The condition has other symptoms including weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, pale dry skin, constipation, and brittle nails and hair.

 Solution: If these symptoms apply to you, see your doctor and get your thyroid levels checked. Hypothyroidism is treatable.

So, after reading all this, do you think Dr. Oz is onto something or do you think there are other reasons why we get villainous, like someone didn’t tell you that there wasn’t any milk left? Let Polkadot Tango know what you think causes people to be cranky, whether it’s legitimate or hilarious, we want to know!