Meatless Monday with Katie Cizewski - The Kind of Vegetarian who Eats Kale

Meatless Monday - The Kind of Vegetarian that Eats Kale The first job that I ever had was at a vegetarian grocery store and macrobiotic cafe in a hip neighborhood of Philadelphia. I was sixteen years old and just settling into my Doc Martin's and teen angst attitude. Thutete hot bar in the cafe at the back of the store was, unlike the cold bar, not self serve. It was my job to work the hot bar for all the hungry vegetarian diners.  I served the pureed sweet potato, the short grain brown rice, the tofu casserole, the miso soup, and the kale. Yuck, kale!  I always thought to myself when a customer would ask for it.  I was a vegetarian at the time but not the kind of vegetarian that ate kale.  I was basically a kid so I ate French fries and drank milkshakes. Because I was a kid and an opinionated, angsty one I considered anyone that ate kale bizarre and not to be trusted.  After plopping a steamy mound of kale onto your plate if you insisted I add more, I was put over the deep end with disgust. You want to eat two icky piles of kale? Suffice it to say that I barely lasted a week at my first job.

Things change. Today, a decade later, I am the kind of vegetarian that eats kale. Let me tell you why. Kale is a highly nutritious food containing a really good dose of vitamin C and a significant amount of calcium and iron, it is a powerful antioxidant, and it is considered to have anti-inflammatory properties as well.  But who cares about all that?  As it turns out, when properly prepared, kale is also quite delicious. And kale is not just for the vegetarians, vegans and macrobiotics out there.  Kale is a part of many traditional dishes from around the world including the Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Brazil, Germany, and Africa. In Ireland, it is a Halloween tradition to serve sausages and kale combined with mashed potatoes.  Inside the kale-potato mixture small coins are hidden as prizes for the diners. What a fun kale tradition!

So why not make your own Monday kale tradition?  Try it sauteed in extra virgin olive oil with your favorite nuts and red pepper flakes. You'll be sold.

(These kale photos were taken at Green Symphony, one of the best vegetarian-friendly cafes and juice bars in the city.  It's on West 43rd Street in the heart of the Theater District.  Come eat here on a Monday!)