Love. Plant. Eat.
By Annette Ramke, CHHC
Love: For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, warmer weather is finally here! I love the longer days, the sunshine, the chance to spend more time out-of-doors. Now after many seasons of being side-lined due to cancer treatment and surgeries, I am happy to be enjoying renewed health and a hearty immune system, allowing me to get outside and, literally, get my hands in the dirt. The chance to connect with the earth – whether through sitting outside or taking a gentle walk during treatment, to going barefoot in the grass and taking a vigorous bike ride when healthy – spending time connecting with nature is important to our physical and mental well-being and is a great way to show love to ourselves.
Plant: At first I was upset. I hadn’t been able to garden for a couple of years and I wanted to go straight to having a full-sized masterpiece, complete with raised beds and tons of plants. But my gardening budget isn’t that big and I’m not able to do a lot of heavy lifting and digging. Then I remembered the advice I often give to clients when making changes in their diets and lives: we don’t need to make dramatic overhauls from one day to the next – even though we can often feel the pressure to do so! So I found a way to do some easy, space-and-money-saving gardening. I decided to use a portable cloth planter and plant some herb and vegetable seeds. It’s exciting to see my “babies” grow and I love knowing that I will one day soon be able to walk outside and harvest some fresh herbs and vegetables of my very own.
Eat: Another reason why I love warmer weather is the abundance of food that becomes available, especially leafy greens! Leafy green veggies (kale, spinach, collards, chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and lettuces) bring vitality, energy and amazing nourishment to our bodies. They are the food most missing from modern-day American diets, and the food we usually need most. Greens are high in dietary fiber, calcium and iron. They also contain high levels of vitamin K, magnesium and folate and cancer-fighting phytochemicals such as vitamin C, lutein and carotenoids. My first recommendation to individuals who want to improve their diet for any number of reasons (increase energy, lose weight, balance moods, fight or prevent disease) is to add in more leafy greens. If you do nothing else – just get those greens in on a daily basis, if possible. Make a greens salad, steam greens or sauté kale, collards or spinach with a little olive oil, sea salt and garlic. Or try the easy and delicious recipe below from Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen.
Yield: makes 2 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, thinly sliced into rounds (about 1/2 cup)
2 bunches kale, thick stems removed, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons tamari (soy sauce)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raisins
Heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the carrot for five minutes. Add the garlic, kale, tamari, cashews and raisins and sauté a few minutes until cashews begin to soften.
Annette recently co-authored a book, Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen : The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer, which will be published in September 2012 by Running Press. She lives just outside of Philadelphia with her husband and teenage daughter. You can learn more about Annette at AnnetteRamke.com and about the book at KickingCancerInTheKitchen.com