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Lent Recipe: Hoppin’ John with Carolina Kale

hoppin' john kaleRice and beans could mean lots of things. Perhaps Mardi Gras inspired to keep my culinary effort south of Mason-Dixon with a combination of two recipes that fulfill my dietary plans for Lent. Hoppin’ John is a dish of black eye peas served with rice, and the Carolina Kale helps me toward my goal of five bunches of greens per week.

Carolina Kale

This is a dish I haven’t done for a while that I chose for being different from my usual preparation. The greens are cooked with tomatoes for more liquid. I modified the recipe intentionally by adding eight ounces of pre-sliced mushrooms to increase the dish’s nutrient density Fuhrman style. They were a great  addition, and by adding a couple of cups of cooked beans it would make a great all in one Rice and Beans and Greens Super Dish. I will definitely make this dish again during Lent.

Hoppin’ John: Yam Variation

This dish seems to be black eye peas cooked in many different ways.  I chose a variation from Alan Goldhamer’s cookbook The Health Promoting Cookbook that included chopped yam and potato and celery as the main seasoning. The yam looked huge when chopped, so I omitted the potato. It came together nicely, but when finished I realized that I should have added more yam or sweet potato.


Where do you put the leafy greens?

Everybody knows they’re supposed to Eat More Kale, but once you get that bunch of uber healthy dark green leafy vegtables home and the smugness wears off, what do you do? You’ve got this giant pile of something that smells vaguely like lawn clippings. For a long time my preffered preparation was to leave them inthe fridge while I thought about what to do with them. A week later they would be yellow, I’d throw them out and buy a new bunch. Sound familiar?

I’m a late convert to leafy greens other than spinach. I just kept trying them over and over until finally I kinda liked them. They’re not my favorite thing to eat, so I’m always on the lookout for recipes that use them. But practice makes perfect, and I finally figured out to prepare them easily, and how to eat more of them.

Simple Preparations:

Wash, chop, and saute in a little water covered for about five minutes.

Add chopped garlic and a splash of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.

That’s it!

Those are the secrets. The soy sauce and vinegar cut all the bitterness and they taste great.

For a spicy southern version use Tabasco instead. The concentrated vinegar will have a similar effect.

How to use them:

I learned this from a cooking demo I watched while sick, unfortunately I don’t remember what it was. Cook greens as above, and put a handful in the bottom of your bowl or plate, and pile the rest of your meal on top. You don’t really notice the greens are there, they don’t get in the way, and you get a great dose of green leafy goodness. I did this while sick with kale and collards under my brown rice, which was then topped with a soup. I increased my nutrient density while not offending my limited appetite.


For a different flavor, try using your favorite mustard for the seasoning. Mustard also has a lot of vinegar, and it gives a nice flavor.


Mushrooms Protect Against Breast Cancer

I found a great nutrition source the other day, Dr. Michael Greger’s where he archives an incredible array of vlogs about various nutrition topics. I have seen a couple of his presentations, one on cancer and another on bird flu, but neglected to see all the goodness he has assembled for free on his own site. I think I spent an hour just randomly watching his videos. But this recent video on mushrooms and breast cancer really grabbed my attention. Since I know a couple of people facing breast cancer, I was particularly interested. Earlier in the summer I watched a PBS show by Dr. Joel Fuhrman in which he claimed that his top recommended anti-cancer foods included mushrooms. For years our nutritional analysis of shrooms has concluded that they were basically “empty”. Low in calories, tasty to some, but not very nutrient dense. I always thought that there must be something more to them since they are so revered in Asia. Ancient humans must have had some reason to risk the many toxic varieties out there, and science has finally caught up. I would like to call them “phytonutrients” to link them to all the other wonderful disease fighters, but a fungus is not a plant. So what are they? Myconutrirnts? Fungichemicals? I love mushrooms, and here are one of my favorite dishes that feature them. This is now my anti cancer go to dish as features all of Fuhrman’s favorites: allium family (onions and garlic), greens, beans, and mushrooms. The only one missing is some kind of berry. But they wouldn’t fit here, so I’ll stick to eating berries with my oatmeal.

Spicy Kale and Shrooms

1 bunch kale, chopped
8 oz mushrooms sliced or quartered
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
jalapeno, minced
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1 pound waxy potatoes, mostly cooked
1 can beans, drained and rinsed
Bragg’s or soy sauce
Chili paste


Cook the potatoes until almost done.
In a large skillet, saute onion, jalapeno and garlic until soft.
Add mushrooms, and saute until mushrooms release their liquid.
Add kale and a little water, cover and cook until kale is tender.
Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking until heated through and veggies are done to your liking.