Virginia Willis Blog

Eat Right for Your Sight on National Kale Day!

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Eat Right for Your Sight on National Kale Day!

A year or so ago I helped edit a cookbook called Eat Right for Your Sight for the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans – more than cataracts and glaucoma combined. It was a fascinating project and increased my awareness of this incurable disease.

At present, Macular Degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail.

It wasn’t just your mother telling you to eat carrots for better vision! People have known for centuries that certain foods can be good for your eyesight, including 16th Century Spanish explorers who carried chili peppers on voyages to help with night vision. Your mom and the explorers were smart: those chili peppers contained beta-carotene, vitamins C, E and B6, and folic acid, and the carrots had carotenoids and antioxidants. A diet rich in these nutrients may reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and slow the progression of the disease in those already diagnosed.

While Eat Right for Your Sight targets those who are particularly concerned with maintaining eye health or slowing macular degeneration, it is a great cookbook filled with delicious recipes for everyone. Each recipe includes comprehensive nutrition information, and they have been carefully crafted to act like medicine, but not taste like it! With the variety and creative food combinations, it is perfect for food enthusiasts as well as those who simply want a healthier diet.

In the spirit of National Kale Day, I want to share my recipe for Kale Omelet from my book, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, and this warming, satisfying recipe for White Bean Soup with Kale from Eat Right for your Sight.

Bon Appétit Y’all! 
Virginia Willis

PS Speaking of a healthier diet — Lighten Up, Y’all is on sale on Amazon for only $16.66!

Kale Omelet on www.virginiawillis.com

 

Kale Omelet 

Serves 6 to 8


3 slices thick bacon, cut into lardons or 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, preferably Vidalia, chopped
5 cups hearty greens (such as kale, chard, or mustard greens), cleaned, tough stems removed, and chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons water
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (2 ounces)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ cup ricotta cheese (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon canola oil

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a plate with paper towels. Heat a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp and brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to the prepared plate; set aside.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings (reserve the excess fat for another use or dispose). Alternately, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low, add half the greens, and toss until they begin to wilt, about 1 minute. Add the remaining greens and season with salt and pepper. Add the water. Toss to coat. Decrease the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are wilted and tender, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the greens to a large bowl, leaving any cooking liquid behind.

Rinse and dry the skillet. To the greens, add the eggs, ¼ cup of the grated cheese, the reserved bacon, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Fold in the ricotta. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the now-clean skillet to the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and rotate the skillet to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is shimmering, pour in the egg mixture and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Cook over medium-low heat until the omelet is barely set at the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated cheese over the eggs.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and, using a butter knife or long spatula, loosen the omelet from the sides of the skillet. Give the skillet a shake and slide the omelet out onto a clean cutting board. (Don’t use a knife in the nonstick skillet!) Using a serrated knife, slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Brilliant: Presentation
Baked in a Sourdough Boule

Your brunch guests will certainly think this is Brilliant.  Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking liner or parchment paper.Slice off the top of an 8-inch round sourdough or firm white loaf; remove the bread in chunks, leaving a shell.Reserve the bread for another use. Prepare the filling. Instead of returning the egg and kale mixture to the skillet, transfer the mixture to the prepared boule. Top with remaining ¼ cup grated cheese. Bake until the eggs are set, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly. Present on a wooden cutting board with a serrated knife. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

 

eat right for your sight white bean soup with kale

White Bean Soup with Kale
Serves 4-6

Kale turns an ordinary white bean soup into a lutein and zeaxanthin powerhouse. (As a rule, the darker the green, the higher the lutein.) As an alternative, add 6 to 8 ounces of chopped smoked sausage, such as Andouille or chorizo, for a meatier dish with a kick.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme
8 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups dry navy or great Northern beans, soaked overnight
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chopped kale leaves, tough stems removed

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, carrot, and celery for 7 to 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the thyme and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the broth, beans, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 11/2 hours, or until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

Partially purée the soup with an immersion blender or transfer half the soup to a blender or food processor and purée before adding back to the stockpot. Add the kale and cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste. Ladle into warm bowls and serve immediately.

Nutritional Profile
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 357
Protein: 17 g
Fiber: 19 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Sodium: 847 mg
Vitamin A: 14,721 IU
Vitamin C: 71 mg
Vitamin E: 2 IU
Zinc: 3 mg
Beta-carotene: 8,165 μg
Lutein and zeaxanthin: 21,329 μg

Credit line: Recipe from Eat Right for Your Sight: Tasty Recipes That Help Reduce the Risk of Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration, copyright © American Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2015. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. www.theexperimentpublishing.com

***

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Lighten Up, Y'all on www.virginiawillis.com

If you are interested in hosting me for a cooking class or a book signing, let me know! Send an email to info@virginiawillis.com and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.

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Photography by Virginia Willis

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