Have you ever stopped to think about all the wonderful things our bones do for us? Besides giving our bodies structure, protecting our organs and anchoring our muscles, they also allow us to perform basic functions like sitting, standing, walking and running. And as many of us know, the best way to keep our bones strong is with calcium, vitamin D, and low or high impact exercises like walking or running.
With spring in full swing, I’ve been thinking about our many local farm crops that support bone health: dark, leafy greens like kale, collard greens, turnip greens and spinach. These calcium powerhouses of the farm are readily absorbed into our bones; in fact, there’s a growing body of research showing that the calcium in these plants is more easily absorbed into our bones than the calcium in dairy.
In my kitchen, I love experimenting with new ways to use kale, one of the kings of calcium. Kale Pesto (below) is one of my favorites, which I use as a pasta or pizza sauce, on sandwiches, or in anything else that would be enhanced by the garlicky, nutty flavor of pesto. If you don’t have kale on hand, collard greens and spinach can be substituted.
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8 oz (about 1 bunch) kale (Lacinato or curly), tough stems removed
¼ cup pecans
¼ cup raw cashews
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup fresh parsley
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
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1. Roughly chop the kale. Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the kale and turn off the heat. Remove the kale after 30 seconds and pat dry.
2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, combine the pecans, cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder and peeled garlic. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the kale and parsley and pulse until greens are finely chopped. With the food processor on, slowly add the olive oil through the pour spout until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Note: Pesto will keep in refrigerator for a week, or freeze until ready to use.