Vegan-ish: A Physician’s Journey to More Plant-Based Meals: Kale, Sausage, Red Potato, and Cannellini Bean Soup
I am Dr. Monique May, Board-certified Family Physician and Founder of Physician in the Kitchen™. Through my best-selling book, MealMasters: Your Simple Guide to Modern Day Meal Planning, and NEW cookbook, Doc Fix My Plate! The Physician In The Kitchen’s Prescriptions For Your Healthy Meal Makeover, and online cooking classes, I help busy households enjoy healthy eating without impacting their hectic schedules.
Hello MealMasters! People choose to adopt vegan or other lifestyles for a variety of reasons, and they are usually related to improving their health. They may want to eliminate the need for medications to treat their cholesterol or high blood sugar, or maybe they want to lose a few pounds to reach an ideal or preferred weight. By cutting out animal protein, you may notice an improvement in chronic conditions such as joint pain or kidney disease. You may also decrease your risk of developing certain types of cancer. For me, in addition to the known health benefits of a plant-based diet, I truly enjoy experimenting and testing recipes featuring vegetables or other plant-based foods. I also get to create in my “lab” while using my many kitchen gadgets and appliances. This year I am chronicling my journey toward more plant-based meals, and I am sharing with my readers my favorite foods, along with tips and tricks I have discovered along the way.
Today I am continuing my series, Dr. Monique’s Favorite Food ABCs. The foods that are on this list are here because of both their contributions to mouth-watering dishes as well their health benefits. So far we have discussed the following:
- A for avocado
- B for beans
- C for cilantro
- D for dairy replacements
- E is for egg substitutes
- F for fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables
- G for ginger and garlic
- H for herbs
- I for Indian Spices
- J for jackfruit
K for Kale: Truth be told, people tend to be in one in two camps when it comes to kale. They either hate it or they love it. I, fortunately, am in the latter camp. Kale is a member of the dark leafy green vegetable category. As such, it is ridiculously good for you and has tons of health benefits. It is also a wonderful ingredient in smoothies, soups, casseroles, salads, and of course, kale chips. It can be used wherever you use collard greens or even spinach. Kale comes in many different varieties. Softer textures, like baby kale, can be eaten raw. Tougher leaves, like common curly kale, need to be cooked or marinated after removing their tough stems in the middle.
Kale is actually in the same cruciferous family as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. It is loaded with essential minerals and vitamins including iron, copper, magnesium, and calcium. Calcium is important for healthy, strong bones. As a leafy vegetable, it should be no surprise that kale is full of fiber. Fiber makes you feel full, which decreases snacking. It also helps to keep your bowels healthy and in good working order. It also contains antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamins A and C. In fact, kale has more Vitamin C than its other leafy green vegetable cousins. One cup of kale actually has more vitamin C than an orange. It also contains a large amount of Vitamin K, which is important for people who take blood thinners such as warfarin (brand name Coumadin) to know. Large amounts of kale and other leafy vegetables can affect the blood-thinning effect of this medicine, so people taking warfarin have to be careful and be sure to get their blood levels monitored regularly.
As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, kale has plant-based compounds that help to decrease the risk of certain cancers. In addition, the fiber helps to decrease the risk of colon cancer. Kale also helps to lower cholesterol levels in the body which decreases the risk for heart disease. The high levels of beta carotene, which your body converts to Vitamin A, help protect your eyes and decrease the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system and helps your joints as well.
As mentioned above, kale leaves can be made into chips as well. I just rinse them, pat them dry, toss them with a little bit of olive oil, season them with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, and bake them in the oven at 250 for about 20-30 minutes. I do check for about 15 minutes to make sure they’re not getting done too quickly or burning.
Below is my recipe for Kale, Sausage, Red Potato, and Cannellini Bean Soup. This hearty soup is full of flavor, nutrition, and the fiber it contains goes a long way in filling you up and keeping you warm on a cold winter’s day. It’s like a warm hug from the inside. Be sure not to omit the smoked paprika; it really brings out the flavor! If you make sure this recipe, please make sure to tag me @physicianinthekitchen when you post on Instagram.
For more helpful tips and information, please join my Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/mealmasters today!