Tag Archives: greens

The Trick to Making a Delicious Kale Salad

salad plate

How do you really feel about kale?

If you’re making a bitter face after reading that sentence, I understand. The No. 1 complaint I hear about kale is that it’s soooo bitter. And you’re right. Eaten completely raw the stuff is absolutely disgusting. There, I said it. But when kale is properly prepared, that bitterness mellows and can even (dare I say) turn slightly sweet, and that, my friends, is when kale becomes absolutely delicious!

If you take nothing else away from this post know this: Eating healthy does not mean force feeding yourself bitter green things. No one does that. Or at least no one does that for more than a day or two without coming back to reality. I’m here to tell you that there is so much more to kale beyond it’s bitter rap. The trick is just knowing how to prepare it.

Here’s a fun fact. Did you know chopping kale in a food processor sort of smells like freshly cut grass? It does… but if your salad tastes like your lawn there is a problem…

chop greens

IMG_4202

Bitter is Better
The darker the green, the more bitter the taste. But don’t let that scare you. Dark leafy greens are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, chlorophyll and oxygen. They help detoxify, purify the blood, oxygenate your cells and can even lift your spirit. All these benefits and yet dark leafy greens have so many of us stumped. Once you know how to prepare them though, they’re easy to add to any meal.

Banish the Bitter
Now that we’ve appreciated bitterness for what it means nutritiously, let’s talk about how to get rid of it. Kale is a hearty plant with a tough exterior so that it can endure the harsh winter months. To enjoy it raw, you have to get it to soften, because behind that tough exterior is just a sweet vegetable. It’s all in the approach. And it starts with lemon. The acid in lemon counters the bitter flavor and helps to break down the leaves. Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a 1:1 ratio and season with salt and pepper to make a simple dressing. Pour dressing over the chopped greens and (this is the real trick) get in there with your hands and massage the kale. You read right… massage – deep-tissue style – both hands. in there. working it. This breaks down the cellulose structure of the plant so that it wilts and softens. Pay attention as you massage and notice the leaves turn a more brilliant green and shrink up a bit. And just like that the kale is transformed from lawn clippings to a delicious salad…. Magic!

dressing

IMG_4217

add nuts and fruit

Massaged Kale Salad

Ingredients

1 bunch kale
1-2 lemons
1/8 cup EVOO
salt & pepper
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
1 cup dried fruit (currants, raisins, cranberries, etc.)

Directions

Wash kale well and tear leaves away from stem. Tear leaves into pieces and place in food processor or blender to chop. Pulse until  finely chopped (you’ll have to do this part in a few batches). Transfer to a large bowl.

Next, make the dressing. In a small bowl combine juice from lemons and EVOO. Season with salt and pepper and whisk well until combined. Pour over kale and massage the dressing into the greens using your hands.

Mix in choice of nuts, fruit or other salad toppings. If kale still tastes bitter, add more lemon and continue to massage until no longer bitter.

3 Comments

Filed under recipes

Coconut Chicken Curry

plated

Since getting back last week from India… I mean Austin… I think I’ve had curry four times. Why am I confusing Austin and India, you ask? That was my little joke during our long weekend visit with friends, because every day involved something Indian. We were there primarily to see my friend Lauren perform in a Bollywood production – Om Shanthi. Bravo, Lauren! Maybe all that Bollywood energy stuck with us. But the next night we ended up at G’raj Mahal, an Indian restaurant near Rainey Street. And then, the following day, I found myself loading up a plate of curried cauliflower and chickpeas at the Whole Foods on Lamar, which, by the way, also thinks it’s in India – I couldn’t believe the assortment of Indian curries in the to-go food section and naan in the bread aisle. Anyway….

sautee

Curries like this one are on the regular dinner rotation at our house. I’m a big fan of anything that you can cook in one pot and I love using lots of spices. So, Indian food, and actually most cuisines from the eastern hemisphere make regular appearances. We joke about how our future kids’ friends will react when they stay for dinner and then find out we’re having dahl… Iguess I better get working on a back up healthy mac & cheese…

add-kale

Usually when making curry I don’t stick to a particular recipe. I like to change it up and just go with whatever vegetables I have on hand. It’s a great “clean out the fridge” dish or if you’re shopping you can try to save a little and opt for what’s on sale. Serve over brown rice (or enjoy just by itself) add a little cilantro and BOOM!

spices

I’ve been asked if there’s a particular brand of curry powder I prefer, or if I make my own. I don’t have any regular go-to’s really, but as we’ve experimented more and more, it’s sort of fun combining my own spices rather than going off the shelf. The one in this recipe comes from a recipe provided by Dr. Amy Myers from Austin UltraHealth. If anyone out there has a brand or personal blend they swear by, please share!

chopped

This recipe uses butternut squash (I found the cutest little baby one… makes me excited for fall!), celery, green onions and kale. But change it up and use what you like… cauliflower, zucchini, squash, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots… the possibilities are endless. Don’t have that mix of spices? Use a prepared curry powder or paste. Here’s an old vegetable curry recipe from way back when that uses curry powder for another option.

Did I mention this meal has super powers too? The pungent spices – turmeric, cumin and coriander (just to name a few) – in curry have been used medicinally for centuries. Pungents, which are usually lacking in our modern American diet, are drying which should balance out the sweet (considered mucus forming) foods that it’s easy to get some much more of. Think about the last time you had a spicy chili and it left you with a runny nose, clearing your sinuses. The spices really were “drying you out.” Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine, teaches that a truly balanced meal should include all six flavors – spicy, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter – for satisfaction, balance, optimal digestion, health and harmony. It may sound like a tall order for just one meal, but it shows, food is powerful. And when it’s powers are used for good, magic like this happens…

add-chicken

Coconut Chicken Curry

(recipe adapted from Austin UltraHealth’s recipe)

Ingredients:
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, cut into crescents
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced small
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups kale, torn and roughly chopped
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into pieces
1 can full fat coconut milk

Directions:
Heat large skillet ove medium heat and add coconut oil. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic and cook until translucent and slightly browned. Add spices and stir to coat onions. Then add squash, celery and green onions and stir to mix well. Pour in water and bring to a boil. Cook until you can pierce squash with a fork. Add kale and continue to cook until wilted. Add chicken and coconut milk and simmer to allow flavors to combine. Add black pepper to taste. Serve as is or over brown rice and topped with cilantro.

4 Comments

Filed under cooking, recipes

Chicken with Cauliflower Mash and Broccolini

chicken dinner

I just got home from seeing Dr. Mark Hyman speak at the Dallas Performing Arts Center. If you dont know Dr. Hyman, he is a rock star in the health and nutrition world, leading the way for functional medicine and changing the way we all think about health, disease and medicine. Check him out. One of his main takeaways for how to create health was quite simple – eat real food. Cooked by a human (you or someone near you). Sounds easy enough, right? But for many of us it’s a lot easier said than done. We’re short on time and often skills too. I don’t know about you, but I never had Home Ec. By the time I got to high school there were more important things to learn than cooking. But what could possibly be more important than the fuel we use to run our bodies and minds? It’s the foundation of our health and well-being. What we eat becomes our cells, our blood, tissues, organs, skin… We create health with what we put in our bodies. And it’s completely in our control. All we have to do is get to the grocery, get in the kitchen and get connected with our food.

Here’s a simple classic that’s fairly easy and worth the time in the kitchen – roasted chicken and vegetables. I know what you’re thinking. “Mashed potatoes?” Well, not exactly. That’s actually cauliflower right there. And mashed it tastes just as creamy and comforting as the spuds you’re used to. Plus it has a heck of a lot more nutrients and no peeling necessary – win-win. Healthy home-cooked comfort food. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Feeling like cooking = rocket science? I can help.

Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1/2 lemon, cut in small pieces
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, cut into chunks
Sea salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400
Stuff whole chicken with chopped onion, garlic and lemon
Sprinkle outside with salt and rub salt into skin to cover
Roast at 400 for about an hour until skin is browned and crispy

Cauliflower Mash

Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup evoo
1/2 tsp sea salt
Squeeze of lemon

Directions:
Steam cauliflower until soft enough to pierce with fork. This took about 15 minutes. You can cover the pot to cook more quickly. Be careful to not immerse florets in water or you’ll end up with watery mash. Just trust me.
When soft, transfer florets to food processor, add evoo, salt, and process until smooth (really smooth).
Add squeeze of lemon and pulse.

Steamed Broccolini

Ingredients
1 bunch broccolini

Directions
Steam about five minutes until bright green and soft

1 Comment

Filed under recipes

Simple Slaw Salad with Salmon

simple slaw with salmon

Meet my new favorite meal for spring. This plate has so much good stuff going on I’m not even sure where to begin. You’ve got your omega-3s in the salmon, and an extra anti-inflammatory boost from covering the fish in curry powder. Pair that with a slaw of raw veggies in all their glory, pure and unwilted delivering enzymes, nutrients and a delicious crunch. Oh, that crunch…

simple slaw

Raw foods can be so refreshing this time of year and adding them to your meals adds a whole list of health benefits including improved digestion. Foods that are raw come with enzymes which help to get the whole digestion thing started. That means your body doesn’t have to work as hard to break the food down all on its own. And you know what that means? More energy for you!

Healthnuttiness aside, what I love about this is you can make the slaw salad ahead of time (it’s actually even better the next day) and, if you plan it right, have dinner and lunch (or lunches) covered. Cook once, eat twice!

salmon

As for the salmon, it doesn’t get any easier than sprinkling on a little curry powder and sticking it under the broiler. I said this is my new favorite meal for spring for a reason… no cooking. no clean up. no reason not to be outside playing!

Simple Slaw Salad and Salmon

Ingredients

1/2 head of Napa cabbage, grated
6 carrots, grated
1 bunch basil, thinly sliced
3 limes, juiced
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 salmon filets
curry powder
salt and pepper

Directions

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, basil, then toss with lime juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To start the salmon, heat the broiler. Place filets on a foil-lined baking sheet skin side down and dust the tops of the fish with curry powder to just cover the filets and sprinke with salt and pepper. Broil salmon 6-8 minutes.

Serve slaw topped with salmon and enjoy!

4 Comments

Filed under recipes

Dinner for One: Sweet Potato with Kale and Avocado

sweet-potato-kale-avocado

This is one of my favorite simple meals that I tend to make when I’m just cooking for myself. It’s super low maintenance (read: one pan) but has tons of flavor and is totally satisfying. It’s just simple ingredients that are easy to cook and happen to combine quite well together. By adding extras like garlic and lemon too, simple vegetables turn into the world’s simplest gourmet tasting meal for one. Did I mention how simple it is?

On a night when it’s just me, I can throw this together in about 30 minutes and be on the couch with dinner in one hand and the remote in the other, ready to relax and catch up on the girly portion of our DVR.

Sweet Potato with Kale and Avocado

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato
1/2 bunch kale, torn from stems and roughly chopped
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or virgin coconut oil
1/2 avocado, sliced
salt
lemon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, wrap sweet potato in foil and bake 30-45 minutes, until soft.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5-7 minutes, until translucent and beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add kale and stir to coat with oil. Cook about five minutes until greens begin to wilt and shrink.

When sweet potato is done, unwrap and cut it in half. Mash the potato with a fork and then top with greens mixture. Add sliced avocado, sprinkle with salt and give it a little squeeze of lemon.

2 Comments

Filed under recipes

St. Patrick’s Day Spinach Pesto Pasta

I watched maybe four episodes of “Chopped” last night. It may have been a bit much… because when I just went to the kitchen to make dinner, I created my own little mystery basket. Except instead of exotic or ridiculous ingredients, mine were things in the fridge that are about to go bad… I had to get rid of some spinach. And the broccoli was looking a little peaked. (Please don’t tell the judges.) So there was that… From the pantry I scrounged some staples: pasta, garlic, onion. Done! I’m going to make a spinach pesto with sauteed broccoli and penne. Boom! And that’s how it went. Pretty lame for “Chopped,” I know, but the approach sure beat opening the door to a near empty fridge, sighing and saying, “We have no food!” Which is how I probably would have reacted just a few years ago…

Instead, I accepted the challenge and tried my damndest to impress my judge (the husband). And here’s the oh-so-appropriately-timed St. Patrick’s Day pesto pasta we ended up with for dinner:

broccoli-pesto-pasta

St. Patrick’s Day is a favorite holiday of mine. And when I looked down at all that green goodness on my plate I couldn’t help but smile at the timing. I would totally make this, or even just the pesto for a St. Patty’s Day party. Festive, and good for you! Skip the green beer and load up on this. (Note, I said green beer. I have no problem with beer… just for the record.)

Meanwhile, on my little episode of “Chopped”… The judges were speechless and practically licked their plates clean…

pesto-clean-plate

And there’s still plenty of pesto left over to use in dressings and to dip things in between now and the actual St. Patty’s day. This pesto (which is similar to this one) is a super sneaky way to get in more greens, which are good for you on every level – improving circulation, bringing in oxygen, detoxing cells and even lifting the spirit. They’ll also help counter act some of the not-so-good for you stuff (read: green beer) we may over do in honor of our patron saint in green….

spinach-pesto

St. Patrick’s Day Spinach Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

For the pesto:
1 bunch spinach
1/2 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic
1 lemon
1 handful basil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

For the pasta
1 box whole wheat or brown rice pasta
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
Cook the pasta according to package instructions.

For the pesto, first put garlic clove in food processor and process to chop. Then add walnuts and chop. Add spinach, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and process into a smooth consistency. Last, add the basil and process until evenly blended and smooth. Add more olive oil and/or water until desired consistency is reached.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and sautee until translucent. Add broccoli florets and sautee about 10 minutes until cooked through.

Top pasta with broccoli mix and then pesto.

5 Comments

Filed under recipes

Emerald City Salad

This recipe comes from one of my favorite IIN cookbooks  – Feeding the Whole Family. I love it because it’s full of simple basics like how to cook different grains, beans and simple blanched vegetables. And then it builds on the basics to create delicious, simple whole food meals. I’ve mentioned before that I love salads with lots of stuff in them. When I make a salad, lettuce is just one ingredient in a mix of lots. You gotta keep it interesting. And this Emerald City Salad certainly is. Kale by itself is… well, I’ll be honest, it’s not good. But when prepared correctly it can be absolutely delicious. I’ve never been much of a fan of it raw, but in this salad it works. The difference is in the combination of flavors and lemon to soften it. Plus it’s so colorful – really bright and vibrant. When it comes to food, the more colors the better! And all that color makes for one gorgeous side dish… and a great way to get in more greens.

Emerald City Salad

What you need:
2 1/2 cups water or vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1 cup wild rice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove  garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb, core removed
1/2 red or yellow pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped red cabbage
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 cups very finely chopped dark, leafy greens
salt and lemon to taste
Pecorino or Gorgonzola cheese, for garnish (optional)

What you do:
Bring water to a boil. Add butter, 1/2 tsp of the salt, and rice. Bring to a boil again, cover, lower heat, and simmer 60 to 65 minutes.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt in a large serving bowl. Add fennel, red pepper, cabbage, parsley, and greens and toss thoroughly.

Once the rice is cooked, cool until it stops steaming but is still warm. Place it on top of the dressed vegetables. Allow rice to cool and then toss with vegetables. Adjust to taste, adding salt or lemon according to preference. Garnish with cheese if desired.

3 Comments

Filed under recipes

Greens + Onions + Mushrooms

Last weekend Dr. Joel Fuhrman gave us this as a cancer fighting super combo: greens + onions + mushrooms. For the green part of the equation, cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts and cabbage, are particularly beneficial. The phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables keep toxins from doing the kind of damage to our DNA that leads to cancer. The cruciferous greens modify human hormones, detoxify compounds and stop toxins from sticking around. Onions are like the antibacterial scrub to clean the system. And mushrooms are aromatase inhibitors that block the synthesis of estrogen – making them especially protective against breast cancer. The recipe at the end of this post (and pictured above) is a tasty way to get all three.

According to Fuhrman, the most beneficial compounds we get from these foods though are the isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs boost the immune system, but the catch is that they don’t actually exist in the foods themselves. Tricky. ITCs take shape when the foods are chopped or chewed. Think of when you’ve chopped into an onion and your eyes welled up. The smell that’s released and your ensuing water works are a result of a chemical reaction taking place. Fuhrman’s point is to chop before heating and chew well to get the maximum benefit from your foods.

Speaking of chopping an onion… here’s a video that shows how its really done.

And here’s a more complete list of cruciferous cancer fighters:

  • arugula
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • broccoli rabe
  • brocollina
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • collards
  • horseradish
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • mustard greens
  • radish
  • red cabbage
  • rutabaga
  • turnips
  • turnip greens
  • watercress

Kale with Mushrooms and Onions

What you need:

– 1 bunch kale, torn into bite size pieces
– 1 yellow onion, cut into crescents
– shitake mushrooms
– olive oil
– 1 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
– 1/2 tbsp mirin (rice wine)
– 1 tbsp water

What you do:
Heat pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onions. Cook 2-3 minutes until onions become translucent. Add mushrooms. Cook a few minutes. Add kale. Stir to coat with oil. Combine tamari, mirin and water in a bowl. When greens begin to shrink down, pour in liquid mixture. Stir and cook a few more minutes. Taste greens to know when they’re done. Greens will be wilted and slightly sweet, not bitter. Serve with brown rice or quinoa.

2 Comments

Filed under recipes

Go Leafy Green.

Up until a few months ago my knowledge of leafy greens started with romaine and ended with spinach. Come to find out those are so 2008. Today it’s all about mustards, collards, dandelions and kale. Who knew such a smorgasbord of edible foliage was out there? Before, I probably would have guessed kale was a cousin of shrimp. No clue. Now I buy a bunch every trip to the grocery store. I admit, I used to hurry past that wall of green in the produce section on my way to the carrots and baby spinach. But I’m trying to spend more time in the weeds.

And by weeds I mean leafy greens, not the… well, you know. And the greener the better. I understand the common prejudice toward green things. I’ve never had a problem with the color. My food aversions are of the shape variety – like hot dogs. But that’s neither here nor there. Greens though, never an issue. If you can get past any preconceived notions and the image I’ve given you of actually eating weeds, kale and other dark leafy greens are actually quite tasty when done right. Plus they’re about as green as it gets and mama didn’t push those green beans because they’re beans. Green means vitamins, minerals and all that good stuff. So go get ya some.

Here’s my standby way of preparing kale.

What you need:
1 bunch kale
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced into crescents
1 tbsp tamiri or soy sauce
2 tbsp water

What you do:
Wash kale by submerging leaves in a bowl of cold water. Dry, and tear kale leaves away from stems and into pieces.
Heat olive in pan over medium heat. Add onions and saute a few minutes, until translucent. Add kale and stir to coat with oil. The kale will turn a brilliant bright green and begin to wilt. Mix together the tamiri (or soy) and water. When greens begin to wilt, add liquid and allow the leaves absorb it, about 5-8 minutes. Taste to see if they’re done – greens should not be bitter, but a little sweet and still green.

And here’s more on how to cook mouthwatering greens and five more ways to eat kale.

1 Comment

Filed under eat your vitamins, recipes