Cooking With Myra: Kale packed full of nutrients

By Myra Starkey
June 18, 2013 at 1:18 a.m.

Kale chips

Kale chips

The last five or six days have been fairly busy for me. Actually, I guess I've had too much to do for way longer than that because it has been very hectic at the clinic. We have a great group of nurses, lab personnel and front office staff. Even though I am officially the "clinic administrator," I also serve the role of the fill-in, substitute helper in whatever capacity is needed.

Getting to do lots of different things makes my job interesting; however, it also probably wears me out. I think my staff could, for the most part, function without me because when I am gone for a day or two or even a week, the clinic does not fall apart. Like I said before, we have a bunch of talented and capable folks who work for us. I hope they know how much I appreciate them.

I left Thursday morning with my friend, Janet, to go to Houston for my six-month breast cancer follow-up. It has been 13 years now since I was diagnosed, and after treatment, I have never had any sign of recurrence. Thank God.

I can tell you that it still freaks me out to go see the specialist or have any kind of test done because they could tell you that you are fine and send you merrily along your way, or they could reveal that you have evidence of recurrence, and your normal life as you know it would suddenly crash down upon you.

It is as if they flip a large coin into the air, and you don't get to call heads or tails. It will just land as fate dictates on one side or the other, and you can only wait as it rotates in slow motion until it comes to rest and the verdict is pronounced to you and the spectators. I don't believe that this outcome is random because I think God has a plan, sees our whole story and will do what is best. I can accept that.

My visit went well. The doctor told me that he did not need to see me every six months anymore. Routine, annual check-ups would be fine. I am only routine now. That is a great feeling.

My dad met me the same day in Houston. He had driven over from his home in Lake Charles. He was having some sort of special surgery on the multiple skin cancers on his face. After several hours of excisions, he was pronounced cured.

He looked like he had been in a barroom brawl that involved broken beer bottles. He told me he felt fine and was ready to go to the buffet at the Mediterranean restaurant. I didn't think he would want to go inside, considering his appearance, but he told me he didn't think he would run into anyone he knew, and he was hungry.

We spent the night at my sister's house. We got up the next morning and met my daughter, the medical student, at Tiny Boxwoods for blueberry pancakes. The morning was sunny and warm, and I was happy to be alive.

There is great joy on being on the backside of life-changing events and not having one's life changed. I then drove him back to Louisiana. He was in a fair amount of discomfort by then as his pain medications had worn off. He was feeling like he had been beaten up.

I had three hours alone with him to talk as we made the drive east down Interstate 10. Almost a year has passed since my mom died, and dad and I talked about her and the things she taught my sisters and me. I had to wipe tears from my eyes as I was driving, but it was good to remember and cherish her memory.

My dad is not as lonely these days, as he has a lady friend in his life, but at times, I see the sorrow, and that also breaks my heart once again. Because Dad stays busy, we talked about his old house and the renovation that is underway so it can be sold.

As we rolled along the familiar highway toward the town of my youth, I once again felt so joyous to be alive and with dad that I found myself smiling and looking forward to a weekend with him and the rest of the family.

Once into Lake Charles, Dad and I bought 30 pounds of crawfish at the Boil-N-Go drive-in, and we consumed about one-third of it before the rest of the family arrived. Both Taylor and my sister, Cindy, and her family were to arrive later that night.

Mostly, I ate and dad snapped photos of me exclaiming that he had not seen anyone eat with such enthusiasm since the last time I sat down at the table. He said if there was a prize for eating the "mud bugs" I would surely win it because of my ability to peel and eat the tails in one motion. In Louisiana, this is a compliment.

The next day, we went to an old family friend's 60th wedding anniversary. I had not seen some of those folks for more than 30 years, and several looked the same. My junior high choir director was there, and Cindy and I giggled with him like we were children.

I looked around the room of graying hair contrasted with great-grandchildren running carefree among the tables and thought once again how special each day is and how often we all take the day for granted.

I fried fish and made onion rings later that Saturday night for our Father's Day meal. It was nothing fancy - just our family sitting around dipping fish in ketchup and talking. What a joy it was to be together. After we cleaned the table, all the girls sat down with Cindy's scrapbook stuff and made cards.

We had the table heaped with mounds of paper, and soon, the floor around us had remnants of our creativity. My mom passed on her love of crafts to us, and anytime we sit down to create we reminisce about the old days.

Our weekend was over too soon, and we had to leave Dad and return to Victoria. We returned just in time to celebrate Father's Day with John, Taylor's dad. My brother-in-law, Mike, and his wife, Loree prepared a farm-to-table meal of corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and basil puree and steaks.

They have a huge garden, and their green thumbs are enviable. As we spooned homemade ice cream into our mouths, baby chicks ran around our feet chirping and happy to be out of their cage. I think the chicks believe Loree is their mom.

I realize that I am so blessed to have a family to celebrate special occasions with. I know we all get so busy in life that we don't take the time to just enjoy the company of family or friends. Sometimes, we let months go by without getting together. I encourage each of you to find an excuse to celebrate life with those you love.

Mike has a lot of kale growing in his garden. He has been generous and shared some with me. Although kale is extremely healthy and full of vitamins, many think it too strong a flavor. I prepared kale chips, which are crunchy and light.

There are many health benefits of this nutritious snack. One cup of kale has 36 calories and 0 grams of fat. Kale provides dietary fiber, which aides in digestion and lowers blood sugar.

Kale provides two powerful antioxidants, which protect our cells from free radicals that cause oxidative stress.

Kale provides a megadose of vitamin K, which fights inflammatory-related problems such as arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders. In addition, kale provides close to the daily requirements for vitamin A and C.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email



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