Meatless Monday Week Six

It's Saturday of week six and I know you're wondering, what will he do this time? Which vegetable of the week? What recipe? Why does he always suggest a breakfast? I know how to make breakfast. All good questions, so why don't I get right to it. The vegetable of the week is the recipe of the week and both are kale. Say it with me. Yes, kale. Kale is quite simply one of the most nutrient dense foods you'll ever find.

Nutrient dense? What's that all about? This is a measure of total micronutrients in each kind of food, divided by total calories to give us an idea of the kind of nutritional bang we're getting for our calorie buck. This scoring system was invented by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and is being promoted by Whole Foods Market in their "Eat Right America" intiative. Each kind of food is given an Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) score, which is posted next to the food itself in their stores. The idea is to eat as high up on the nutrient density scale as possible, 1000 being a perfect score. Try to guess what vegetable gets a score of 1000. Yes, say it with me, it's kale.

Here is the ANDI scoring chart of some common foods for your viewing pleasure. Take a moment and have a look at it now. I'll wait right here in the middle of this sentence. 

And, you're back. As you can see, it is the same chart as the one on the website, showing three columns of foods with various scores. There is a green column, a yellow column and a red column. (Did you notice kale right up there at the top? I know--I'm doing a lot of kale bragging.) 

Think of kale's 1000 as a perfect score on a test, like getting 100%. And think of white bread's score of 18 like a blistering failure, a score of 2 out of 100 on a test. The kind of grade for which you just know that white bread's parents will be all over him, never mind that he enters the bloodstream like a crazy kid all hopped up on sugar, running around, not doing any of his nutritional chores, just bouncing off the cell walls and pulling the insulin alarm. So the green column is made up of the foods that all get high grades and quietly do their chores. Ideally we would choose foods from the green column all the time, the foods in the yellow column some of the time and the foods in the red column most seldom of all.

It's like picking kids for your group at summer camp. If you choose all kids from the green cabin, you will have a calm, orderly group of perfect kids, which might be a little boring. So you want to get some of the kids from the yellow cabin who are more fun to be around and like to have a good time. And you might choose one kid from the red cabin just to mix it up a bit and keep things interesting. But if you were to choose your entire group from the red cabin, they would pretty much run riot over your campsite like the kids from Lord of the Flies and end up torching the forest. The forest of your personal health and well-being, if you're still with me on this weird, rambling simile.

The goodness of this week's recipe comes from having a nice balance from all three columns. You've got your kale from column green, your white beans from column yellow and your potatoes from column red. It's the soup that eats like a meal. Enjoy!