A Review of Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please
by Drew Ramsey, M.D., and Jennifer Iserloh
—reviewed by Nicole Infinity
The title of this book, , is a play on the title of the very popular erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. With that in mind, the photos of kale throughout this book involve bondage with twine, and the language is sometimes sexually provocative as it attempts to entice a love affair with kale. Some of its chapter headings, such as “Morning Quickies” and “Naughty and Nice,” are amusing and the book overall has a playful, yet adult tone. I was able to find several useful recipes and expand my knowledge of kale and its nutrients. With this rejuvenated interest, kale will certainly be part of our garden again this year.
The first time I was introduced to kale, I was 15 and working at a buffet. The kale was kept in 32-gallon garbage bins and used as garnish for the salad bar. It was not in any of the dishes served at the buffet and the only time the young employees ate any of it was when they were dared to.
When I began trying to eat healthier a few years back, I started sneaking healthful foods into my diet. Kale has since been
a staple in my fruit and vegetable smoothies where the taste is almost entirely camouflaged by banana and mango. Although my wife eats kale slightly sauteed with pasta or Field Roast vegetarian sausage, I can only get myself to eat a few bites at a time. I don’t mind hiding “super foods” because they are healthful enough for me to make this effort, as I would not eat them otherwise. We also started growing kale last summer and found it to be the heartiest vegetable we have worked with. So, with these things in mind, I requested Fifty Shades of Kale from the library and began a new journey with kale.
With over fifty recipes, even the pickiest eaters can find a way to get kale into their dishes. Although I would argue that in order to enjoy many of the dishes one needs to already appreciate the taste of kale or develop a taste for it. After trying several recipes, I found that the ones that mask the taste of kale even slightly are most enjoyable to me. However, if you are already a kale fan, the book gives you many ways to add kale to almost any type of dish from omelets and smoothies to burgers and cocktails.
I usually skip the introduction in cookbooks, but I found the nutritional and vegetation information quite engaging in this one. One of the authors, Drew Ramsey, M.D., is a psychiatrist, which I did not realize until after reading much of the book. He highlights much of the nutritional information in a way that is not too clinical, but not overly simplistic.
Drew writes about how nutrients found in kale, such as folate, ALA (an omega-3 fat), and iron, are all mood enhancing, reducing the effects of stress hormones and helping create some endorphins in the brain. The authors also tell us how to pair kale properly with other foods for taste and nutrient uptake, ways to keep kale fresh, and how to not overcook it.
There is also an overview of the common varieties of kale and how best to use each one. The authors admit that there are only 48 known varieties, or shades, of kale.
The recipes are concise throughout and the photos of the finished meals are beautifully done. My favorite recipes so far have been “Roasted Kale Chips” and “Chocolate Chip Kale Cookies.” Neither of these sound very daring, but they are big steps for me. Many of the recipes show how to add kale to foods you already make, such as burgers, chicken, soups, eggs, pasta, and tacos. These may help us remember that we can add healthful foods to anything we usually eat. Whether we try to hide them or not is up to us.
The most surprising recipes to me were the beverages and desserts: kale in hot chocolate, sorbet, and fudge pops. There are many recipes in the book that call for meat, dairy, and eggs, but I did not have a difficult time making them vegetarian and vegan.
Overall, fun to read, helpful recipes, interesting nutritional lessons, and scores of photos and inspiration for adding kale to your food life.
[Nicole Infinity works in public education, makes art, and enjoys community living with her lady friend.]