Saturday, January 29, 2011

Know It Or Not -- We've Got It Good.

A few days ago, in a pique of disbelief and irritation and disappointment, I admonished one of my teens, “You’re behaving like one of those over-indulged, over-privileged kids you claim to disdain!”

My child paused. For a single delusional nanosecond, I felt I’d scored a point. Far less than a delusional nanosecond later, though, I crash-landed back to reality. Far from affected, my child was regarding me curiously, as if I were speaking a foreign language, and badly at that. Hardly a proud parenting moment.

Although disappointed, I get it. My kids are no different from most of their peers. They have no idea how “good” they have it. And why would they? I certainly didn’t at that age.

I suppose we can’t help but compare our lives to others’. Maybe it’s a function of being a kid, though, that teens don’t compare their lives to those of the less fortunate. Perhaps our carefully protected and “blindered” children can't help but keep a comparative eye on the more fortunate – the ones not only with vacation homes, but second vacation homes and home theaters and home gyms and passports stamped full long before they expire.

As adults though, we have a better sense of those on the other end of the spectrum: The ones struggling to pay their mortgages; the parents laid-off months ago who flat-out can’t find another job; the hard-working folks who can’t send their kids to college; the families who jeopardize their own health because they don't have access to the basic medical and preventative care so many Americans take for granted.

A few days ago, I wrote about Charlotte Radiology’s current PR campaign. They’ve placed about 30 pink (and hoo boy, they are some kind of pink) tires in front of local businesses. For every picture taken and posted on Facebook, Charlotte Radiology will make a donation to Ann’s Fund, whose mission is to provide mammograms to underprivileged women.

Then, though, Charlotte Radiology upped the ante, rolling out their new mobile breast care center.  You've got to see this thing.  It’s also pink, and hoo boy, it is some kind of pink. More important, it provides a more convenient option for breast cancer screening, serving women who might not otherwise have easy access to mammograms.

The mobile unit is the only one of its kind in our area, and not only will it make mammograms more accessible, it may remind others of us – like me – to continue getting our routine screening – not only for our own sakes, but for the many people – grateful and not – who rely on us.

Mammograms, of course, aren’t the only way we can take care of ourselves. Study after study indicates that, with changes in our diets, we can help affect our future.

Of all things, lowly, humble kale – with its beta-carotenes and luteins and phytochemicals -- is one of the foods highly recommended.  And although I adore greens of all sorts, not everybody does.  This recipe, though, may change their minds.  Just as Charlotte Radiology is changing lives.

Crispy Kale Chips
Super easy and super tasty, this recipe will convert many avowed greens-haters.  You could serve these as a side dish, or even with fried or poached eggs at breakfast, but I'm crazy about them just as they are.  They shatter crisply and satisfyingly on first bite.  All on my own, I can devour an entire bunch of kale -- and feel great at the same time!

One bunch of kale, well washed and spun dry
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
2-3 shakes of red pepper flakes
kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Cut out ribs of kale.  Stack leaves and cut, crosswise, into 1 1/2 inch strips.  Set aside.  Combine olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Toss well with kale.  Spread evenly on a very large baking sheet.  Sprinkle well with salt.  Roast in oven for 6-7 minutes, tossing and fluffing every few minutes.  When kale is crispy (like fine potato chips), it's done.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Yum!
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