for the love of kale

For some strange reason, I could not get the idea of eating kale out of my head.

Maybe this stems from the past weekend, having been filled with pies and burgers and sweet, heavenly pancakes.  Or maybe its the warmer spring weather.  The long pre-dinner walks.  The feeling of a summer-to-be and all the freshness that comes along with.  Maybe it’s a subconscious craving for the extra dose of nutrients.  Maybe.

Or maybe I just wanted something green and curly and surprisingly delicious.

Kale has long been one of my favorite foods, but it didn’t really start out that way.

There was, for example, the one time that I decided a kale smoothie sounded about right.  Zwirrrpp…in the blender.   With milk and a carrot and a packet of Amazing Meal.  It was as delicious as it sounds, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

And then there was the time that I thought eating it plain and raw with olive oil and parmesan sounded nice. It really wasn’t.

So the road has been a bumpy one.  But the end results were worth it, as I finally fell in love with the bright green vegetable.  I learned that:

(1) There are several varieties of kale, some being more suiting for soups and stews, and some being more suiting for sauteeing, stir frying, baking.  Some even do indeed taste good raw, but I wouldn’t personally recommend the curly kale in this approach.
(2)  Kale can be bitter and the ingredients that are added need to counteract this somehow.  I find that even a sweet, grated carrot acts as a beautiful counterbalance.  As does a little lemon juice, a little soy sauce, some diced tomatoes, et cetera.
(3) Kale needs to cook and soften.  Let it wilt as you would let spinach wilt.

Last night I finally had my fill of kale for dinner.  It was ridiculously simple.  Which is just one more thing I love about a curly bunch of kale.

Kale and Tofu Saute

(Serves 1)

This is a simple, satisfying meal that is perfect for a busy weeknight.  Pair with a slice of your favorite bread and dinner is on.  Enjoy!

  • 1/2 bunch of kale, shredded into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 carrot, grated
  • splash of lemon juice
  • garlic powder
  • 1/4 block of tofu
  • 1/4 avocado
  1. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium heat.  Add kale and cook until beginning to wilt.  Reduce heat to medium-low.
  2. Add carrot and lemon juice, and garlic powder.  Stir well and cook for another minute or so.
  3. Meanwhile, spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray.  Cut tofu into 1/2 inch blocks and cook until browned on each side.
  4. Transfer kale to a bowl, topping with cooked tofu and avocado.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: What is your favorite kind of leafy green?  Swiss chard?  Lettuce?  Kale?  Spinach?

sometimes it’s worth it

 

It was during a snow storm two weeks ago, when mom and I went grocery shopping together.

You should know that this is an entirely rare moment.  Something that doesn’t typically happen.  Something that we don’t typically LET happen.

 

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Why, you ask?

Well, for starters, we tend to over discuss certain things.  One hour shopping trips easily turn into three.  Because, as you know, the choice of apples and cereals and coffee is of no simple matter.

And then there’s the thing with looking at the final grocery bill.  It seems to mysteriously tally up just a little bit higher when we’re together (kind of like when my sister and I shop for hair products together at Target, but that’s another story for another day.)  😉

There’s also the issue of neither of us ever really being able to agree on just one thing.  Mr. Indecisiveness always get in the way.  (Come to think of it, this probably explains the grocery bill!!)   

 

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One things for sure.  In my family, nobody will ever disagree with cheese.  Or noodles and sauce, for that matter.

Nobody ever disagrees with lasagna.

 

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Rich, meaty lasagnas are nice.  And yet, I find myself always going back to the vegetarian lasagna.  I find them to be much more simple and laid back—in a classic, purist kind of way.  They don’t feel at all heavy like some of the more meaty lasagnas.  Best of all, they leave all of the bragging rights to the cheese and veggies.  Front.and.center.

I kind of like that about the vegetarian lasagna. 

 

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Over dinner, mom and I both agreed that it was worth buying the magazine. 

Worth making the vegetarian lasagna. 

Worth going grocery shopping together, every now and then. 

Because sometimes, those three hour shopping trips are—you know—totally worth it.

 

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Kale Lasagna Diavolo—as seen in the Vegetarian Times Magazine
(serves 6-8)

We chose not to change much from the original recipe, other then substituting whole wheat noodles, and adding in three extra noodles.  The original recipe calls for pureed tomatoes, but feel free to use crushed.  Or, partially crush a can of diced tomatoes.  Play around with the different textures, to see what you like.  Also, although the recipe calls for kale, you could easily substitute spinach.  Just be sure to increase the portion used, as cooked spinach will greatly reduce once it’s cooked.

This meal is best served with a large side salad.  And, perhaps, if you really want to go all out, serve this meal with some thick slices of warmed garlic bread.  This meal will leave even veggie haters begging for more. Enjoy! 😀

  • 1 tsp. olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
  • 1 8-oz. bunch kale, stems removed
  • 1 15-oz. pkg fat free ricotta cheese
  • 4 oz. soft goat cheese, softened
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups prepared tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes)
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Coat 8-inch square baking pan with oil. 
  2. Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes.  Drain, and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle.  Thoroughly wring out kale, then chop.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.  Set aside.
  3. Mash together ricotta and goat in bowl, set aside.
  4. Heat 1 tsp oil in small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add garlic, and cook 15 seconds or until fragrant.  Add tomato puree and red pepper flakes.  Simmer 5 minutes, or until thickened.  Taste, and add extra seasonings and garlic as preferred.
  5. Spread 1/4 c. sauce in prepared baking pan.  Place 3 lasagna noodles on top of sauce.  Top with half of cheese mixture, half of kale and 1/3 c. sauce.  Top with three more noodles, remaining cheese and remaining kale.  Top with remaining lasagna noodles, and cover with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with Parmesan, and bake 40 minutes, or until cheese has melted and lasagna is bubbly.  ENJOY!

Question: Do you enjoy reading magazines?  What are some of your favorites?  I regularly read Real Simple, Runners World, Bon Appetit, Eating Well, and Self.  There are a few others that catch my eye as well, here and there.  As of right now, I’m seriously considering a subscription to Vegetarian Times. 😀

a plate of cabbage and kale

We are officially snowed in!!!

In case you were wondering, yoga in the living room was my workout choice this morning, vs. going out for a walk.  I decided that listening to the radio while doing downward dogs and sun salutations in my pajamas sounded just about right for such a morning. 😉

But I still pulled on my boots and went outside to enjoy a bit of snow.  Which, by the way, is already up to my knees—and still climbing.  There’s at least 18 inches out there.  Maybe more! 

All I can say is, thank goodness today was my day off.

And thank goodness Dad didn’t mind going out and snowblowing the driveway in order to bury us out of the driveway for tomorrow’s commute (thanks dad!)

Yoga + shoveling + plowing my way through snow = fabulous workout.

I decided that today was a good day to clean out the fridge, while putting any and all of those lingering ingredients to good use. 

I bought a head of organic purple kale last week at the supermarket, just because I thought it looked too pretty to turn down.  It’s absolutely brimming with antioxidants and nutrients.  I couldn’t bare to walk past it, and so it ended up in my cart.  And in my fridge.  Until today, of course.

Also in the fridge, I had a couple of carrots and some onions (there are always onions!), along with a thick slab of tofu and a lemon.  Off to the side—on the kitchen counter—there were some tomatoes.  I’m pretty sure that if kitchens could talk, mine would have been screaming—demanding?—at me to make a warm kale salad. 

It was very much meant to be.

I’m pretty sure that people get the wrong idea when it comes to things like kale and tofu.  If it sounds a little hippy—a little too “far out” for both your mind and your kitchen—then you simply must rethink these things and move on.  Daring to try something new.

Kale, when it’s made just right, is earthy and sweet.  Tender but firm.  It will take on a whole new dimension, as it soaks up the olive oil that is lightly drizzled on top.  And in the end, it will practically beg you to add just a splash or two of lemon juice.  Finally—at last—the warmed kale salad will reward your tastebuds with a delicious flavor that’s both simple and complex, making you forget all of those silly little things that you ever had to say about kale.

Tofu is another thing altogether.

Thankfully, just like kale, tofu has the possibility of rewarding you with a depth of flavor and a delightful texture as well. 

The preparation of tofu is key, I think.  More specifically, the pressing

Getting rid of every last bit of liquid that you possibly can, so that the texture becomes nice and firm.  So that it can soak up every bit of sauce or liquid that you decide to add to it.  So that it can brown and crisp at the touch of a hot nonstick pan.  Yes.  The art of tofu is in the pressing.

Side Dish: Roasted Cabbage

A delightfully warm meal to warm up with after trudging through the snow. 😀

I hope you’re all staying warm and safe today!!!

Warm Kale Salad

This makes for a delightful side dish to any entree, but it can also serve as a main dish in and of itself.  Pine nuts, walnuts, and beans would make for a nice addition as well.  This dish is simple but satisfying, perfect for a chilly winter afternoon. 

  • 1 head of kale
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • garlic powder
  • lemon juice
  1. In a medium sized pan, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add kale, stir, and lower heat to medium low.  Continue cooking until kale is tender but still slightly firm.  Add tomatoes, carrot, garlic powder to taste, and a few liberal splashes of lemon juice.  Lower heat to low and continue cooking until heated thorough.
  3. ENJOY! 😀

Simply Pan Fried Tofu

This is as simple as simple gets.  You can use any sauce that suits your fancy.  I’ve used peanut sauces, bbq sauce, and homemade thai sauces as well.  I’ve got to say though, soy sauce and garlic are one of my most favorite of combinations.  Sometimes you can’t mess with simple.

  • 1/4 a block of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed well
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes
  1. Blot tofu well with paper towels to remove any lingering liquids. 
  2. In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, garlic powder and red pepper flakes.  Place tofu in bowl, flip over and let it sit in fridge at least 1 hr.
  3. Heat a nonstick cooking pan over medium heat.  Spray with cooking spray, place tofu in pan, and cook until browned and crisp.  Flip and continue cooking until browned on other side as well.
  4. Serve and ENJOY! 😀

Roasted Cabbage

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare any and all of my vegetables.  Cabbage is no exception.  Enjoy!

  • 1/2 a head of cabbage
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat oven to 425. 
  2. Spray baking sheet with spray and set aside.  Slice cabbage into 1/2 inch slices and place in single layers on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  ENJOY!

Question: Do you eat anything now that you never in a million years would have thought you would *ever* enjoy?

just a few days

Within the past few days of being on vacation, I have…

…brought all of the recipe pages up to date, which hopefully will make it easier for everyone (and me!) to find past recipes! 😀

…consumed a very full head of kale.

…worn my apron like it’s the latest accessory item.

…made three big bowls of “un”overnight blueberry banana oats.

(because, obviously, having just one day to eat your favorite breakfast is never quite enough!)

…enjoyed one, two, three lovely New England walks with my parents.

…and trotted out 5 pain free miles through a sunrise.   Which, by the way, I haven’t done before my knee injury.

I always seem to flirt around with the idea of entering a race come spring, but I’ve also been indulging in the sheer pleasure of just heading out for a run.  Just because.

No clear training goals in mind.    

No drills.

No speedwork.

No 12-mile long runs in zero degree weather.

Just running.  For the pure and simple reason that it feels delicious on my legs. 

When life gets busy and crazy with the dietetic internship and everything else, nothing brings my pace back to normal quite like a brisk morning run.  It slows me down.  The half marathon is still on my horizon.  But for now, my heart belongs to just running. 

Just because.

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Warm Kale Salad

If you’re still sitting on the fence over kale, try this recipe!  The flavors are subtle but bright, with the sunny addition of lemon juice.  Aside from kale chips, this is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.

Kale won’t wilt like spinach does, and stands up quite well against all of the heat and stirring.  Even still, the kale will be tender and soft, making it a wonderful accompaniment to any and all of your favorite meals. 😀

  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • at least 4 large handfuls of chopped kale
  • a few spritzes of lemon juice
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 a carrot, grated
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and cook onion until tender.  Add chopped kale, stir, lower heat slightly to medium low, and cook until wilted and slightly tender.
  2. Add lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper and grated carrot.  Continue cooking on low for another couple of minutes.
  3. Serve warm and ENJOY! 😀

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“Un”Overnight Blueberry Banana Oats

The “un”overnight oats resemble their close cousin, the “overnight oats.”  The main difference is that there’s no soaking or waiting involved with this version.  It’s are made the same morning that you want to eat it, which is nice for those of us who frequently change our minds on what we want to eat, come morning. 😉

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/2 c. frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cortland apple
  • 1 T. crushed flax
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • 2 T. almond butter
  1. Mix together all of ingredients except almond butter.  Stir well.
  2. Top with almond butter and ENJOY! 😀

 Question: If you had an entire day to do only the things that made you happy, how would you spend it?

Boston Baked Beans

I haven’t been craving hot oats as much this past week.  The recent hot weather has brought on a whole new “cold cereal” kind of feeling. 

  • 1-1/2 c. kashi heart to heart
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt mixed with 1 chopped Braeburn apple
  • scoop of Teddy peanut butter

Cold and oh-so-refreshing for a warm summer morning.  😀

I went out for a quick 3-mile morning walk before the heat of the day had a chance to come out.  When I came home I was still dripping with sweat.  In heat like this, everything feels like a major workout. 😉

Morning Snack: handful of almonds and an ice cold orange

I can still remember that very first time that I ate tempeh.  It was more of an experiment than an actual, “I’m going to like this” sort of thing.  Lo and behold, however, I fell in love. 😉 

Tempeh is very, very different than tofu or other soy products.  It has a nice firm—meaty almost!—texture to it.  And it really does take on whatever flavor you want it to have.  For lunch, I simply sprayed a cooking pan with spray, heated the pan, threw in 1/4 a block of tempeh, and let it sizzle and fry.  Then I added 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce to each side.  This causes the pan to spazz a little, but it also causes the tempeh to take on a whole new level.  I opted to add pepper jack cheese, alfalfa sprouts and tomato to my whole wheat roll-up.  But for the optimum sandwich, try this tempeh with avocado and pineapple slices.  I kid you not.  It’s wonderful. 😀

On the side I baked a huge batch of kale chips with ketchup.  I have a massive bunch of organic kale sitting in the fridge and I’ve been desparately trying to finish it up this week. 😉

+ some after lunch sweetness

Some more Thursday refrigerator clean-out duty took place when I scraped out the last of my Friendship Whipped Cottage Cheese and topped it with sunflower seeds and chopped dates.  It made for a fun little afternoon snack!

Let’s move on to the boston baked beans, shall we?

Boston Baked Beans–memere’s recipe, taken from AJRHODES3 on Allrecipe

(p.s. I tweaked the recipe by taking out the bacon and taking out some brown sugar)

  • 2 c. navy beans
  • 1-2 onions, finely diced
  • 3 T. molasses
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T. packed brown sugar
  1. Soak beans overnight in cold water.  Simmer beans in same water until tender, approximately 1 to 2 hrs.  Drain and reserve liquid. (keep in mind that you don’t want the beans sooo tender that they’re falling apart on you…they should be a little firm)
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  3. Arrange the beans in a 2 quart bean pot or casserole dish and top with onions.
  4. In a saucepan, combine rest of ingredients.  Bring mixture to a bowl and pour over beans.  Pour in just enough of reserved bean water to cover the beans.  Stir gently with rubber spatula and cover dish with lid or aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 3 to 4 hrs in preheated oven.  Stir at least every hour.
  6. ENJOY! 😀

A photo journey…

Cooked beans layered with onions.

Sauce mixture being brought to a boil.

Sauce mixture being doused on top of the beans and onions.

Just enough cooking water being poured on top to cover the beans before being placed in the oven.

Beans being enjoyed. :mrgreen:

You could also serve them with cornbread and a side salad, Al Fresco chicken sausages and a side salad, or just eat them like that with a slice of really good dipping bread.  Some people enjoy boston baked beans with a sharp cheddar cheese as well. 

Love, love, love this bean recipe and I highly recommend it.  It’s super easy despite how long it takes.  You just need to make sure that you’re home for the day so that you can stir it at every hour.  But it’s a lot of hands-off preparation.  😀

On the side I had a large salad topped with the last of the sauteed bell peppers and vidalia onions, and drizzled with one of my favorite poppyseed dressings. 

Well, I have a super busy day planned for today so I had better get started!

Question: How do you like to eat your baked beans?  I like eating mine over sweet potatoes or served with a hunk of whole grain bread for dipping and a large salad.  Mmm…

Green Monsters and Kale

Another beautiful, sunny day!  I knew immediately after waking up that I just had to go for at least a short morning run.  Mom had asked me to go grocery shopping with her, and despite having already gone yesterday, I decided I would tag along.  I just never turn down shopping, whether its for groceries or for clothes. 😀  Plus it makes for nice chatting time with mom, too…

Anyways, the plan was to leave at 10 to go shopping, so I decided I’d make time to get up, make a nice hearty breakfast, head out for a 2-mile run, shower, and be ready to go by 10.  I also knew I’d need about an hour between breakfast and running to avoid any stomach cramps.

**Can you guys exercise right after eating, or do you require a little time in between too?? 

Breakfast was a spin-off from yesterday’s.  I wanted to finish off the sweet potatoes, so it just seemd like the right thing to do. 🙂

Berry Sweet Potato Oat Cakes

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This was the same as yesterday only I added in some nutmeg and about a cup’s worth of blueberries.  I loved, loved, loved the addition of fruit, but a cup was a bit excessive.  It added more moisture to the mix and made the final product much more doughy then yesterday’s.  I kind of liked it that way. 😀  But if you want more of a pancake type of consistency, cut back on the milk or the blueberries, or add in a bit more flour.

And instead of walnuts, I subbed in a scoopful of pb. 

I savored this home brewed iced coffee to-go.  I felt very economical, making it myself. 😀  haha…We’re all out of soy, so I instead used 1/2 c. of regular low-fat milk with a tsp. of sugar for a bit of sweetness.

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Breakfast held me over surprisingly well.  I didn’t get the slightest hunger pang until well past noon.  And even then I wasn’t overly hungry.  I mostly wanted to eat lunch with the family before everyone had to leave for work, or appointments, etc. 

So I made us all salads.

My mix consisted of:

  • mesclun greens + a little spinach + a little green leef lettuce
  • carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers
  • red onions
  • 3 green olives
  • my regular dressing (1 tsp each of EVOO, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, and a little bit of garlic powder and mustard powder)
  • 2 natures promise chicken slices
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • a bit of fresh mozzarella
  • a small handful of raisins
  • and fresh blueberries!

+ kashis too of course! 😀

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The star of the meal was the blueberries.  So good!

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Dessert…I do realize that I’m extremely repetitive in my dessert choices.  I can’t help myself.  This pair wins every time. 😀

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Check out this humungous head of kale that I bought at whole foods the other day!!  It was only $1.99 so I of course had to pick up two!  I figured for that price, may as well try it in place of spinach for my green monsters.

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Ta-Daaa!!  I think I may need a larger cup though? 😉

This mix was made up of:

  • 4 c. kale
  • 1/2 c. soymilk
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 mango
  • lots of ice cubes

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I really enjoyed the mix.  But Jenna on Eat, Live, Run was totally right when she said it was more green tasting.  I could smell it before even taking a sip and knew it was going to be leaning towards tasting more like vegetables.  Spinach doesn’t let you know it exists in the drink other then for its bold color…kale just wants to stand out and get some attention!  😀  My dad tried it and said it wasn’t as good as the others I had made with spinach…I liked it because I felt so healthy after drinking it and I loved the sweetness from the mango and soymilk. 

Supper was wonderful.

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This is the herbed carrot soup from moosewood cookbook and is an absolute must-try!  It’s so herby and fresh, and the added lemon juice gives it the most subtle little tang.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this recipe!!

The rosemary foccaccia scones are equally delicious and also from moosewood cookbook (can you tell I’m a huge fan? 😀 )  I modified it a little, and once I figure out if it’s okay to post a modified recipe, I will.  Does anyone know what rules there are to copyrighting and all that other fun stuff?

My night snack was a bowl of honey nut cheerios with soy.  Sweet ‘n’ crunchy. 😀 

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I think my summer class is going to be a little time consuming, but I hope it will be informational and fun as well.  I need to find a hospital or other food service area to volunteer some time in as part of the ‘lab compartment’ of the class.  My goal is to find one by the middle of next week.  I’ll be gone all weekend, so all of the calling and searching will have to wait until Monday, after my volunteer orientation at the local hospital.  Phew…I think I’m going to be a busy girl this summer! 😀

I’m a day early, but…HAPPY FRIDAY!  Hope everyone has some fun plans (even if it’s just some good ol’ relaxation!) for this weekend! 😀

Exercise: My morning 2-mile run felt wonderful, and I could have gone much further if not for the fact I needed to rush back home to get ready for grocery shopping.  Just another reminder that getting up a lil’ earlier in the morning might be a good idea. 😉  I’m keeping tomorrow morning free for a longer run if the mood strikes.

Mom and I also went for a 4-mile walk after lunch today.  And then later tonight I went for a 2-mile walk after dinner.  Both walks were slow and enjoyable.

Oh…and can’t forget my stretching routine too.  I find that a good 10 minutes of stretching after exercising keeps me feeling nice and loose.  I always feel great afterwards. 😀