Kale Salad: My New Found Winter Green Romance

Kale is a tremendously nutritious green, readily available during the gray winter months- but is it possible to fall in love with it?

No doubt most of you have heard all the remarkable benefits of dark leafy greens. It turns out that Kale is the superstar of them all! It’s packed with vitamins {1 cup=180% RDA of Vitamin A, 200% Vitamin C, 1,000% Vitamin K, 15% Calcium} plus fiber, minerals and leutine. All these letters and numbers add up to a heart healthy, blood healthy vegetable that would be really good for those who are at risk for heart disease- and just incredible for the rest of us. Not to mention all that goodness for a mere 30 calories!

This is all well and good, but I don’t know about you…. I’ve never really been a big fan. I find all the winter greens such as Collard greens, Mustard greens, Beet greens, Kale and Escarole tough and bitter. I’ve also have had a few bowls of Collards in the South (which may be the fault of the restaurant) that I found to be soppy and a bit gray/brown. I chalked it up to an acquired taste (and still may be).

Earlier this season I stumbled upon a shaved Brussel Sprout recipe, and the raw, tough leaves were incredible, especially when allowed to be subdued by languishing in a vinegar and oil dressing. Surely this would be the answer for Kale too.

And it is.

Even better is the notion of “massaging the leaves”, which aids in the breakdown of the cell walls, not only turning the mass into a bright, delicious green, but also turning the tough to tender.

A healthy pinch of salt brought out a bit of the sweetness- and then an amazing thing happened.

I, in fact, have found a new love. There is a “tooth” to Kale, even with this technique, but it’s satisfying, and the leaves are not bitter. I found myself gobbling it up with eyebrow lifting amazement. Sorry Spinach- there’s new kid in town.

If you’re a fan of sauteed greens, I’ve been told the trick is to boil the greens first in some salted water for approximately 3 minutes. Then remove them, squeeze out the water, and then sautee like spinach. The water and salt softens them while preserving some of the green and opens them up to receive other flavors, such as garlic and oil.

I do hope if you’re not a Kale fan that you give recipe this a whirl. Who knows, you may begin your own romance.

Tender Kale Salad with Apples and Pepitas
This salad an be eaten directly after making, or allow it to rest for 20 minutes, or more, for an even better taste. Prep time: 15 minutes
135 calories
26 g
0 g
3 g
4 g
0 g
225 g
107 g
11 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 135
Calories from Fat 29
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 107mg
Total Carbohydrates 26g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 11g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 2T Cider Vinegar
  2. 2T Walnut oil
  3. .5t Salt
  4. .5t Honey
  5. .5t ground black pepper
  6. 6c Kale, washed and chopped
  7. 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
  8. .5c celery, chopped
  9. .25c red onion, thinly sliced
  10. 2T pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  1. Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add the kale. Toss with the dressing and with your clean hands work the dressing into the leaves by pinching and squeezing.
  2. The leaves will start to turn a deep green color after about a minute.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
  4. Serve.
A Stack of Dishes http://www.astackofdishes.com/

Roasted Acorn Squash with Grilled Tofu and Quinoa {And My New Approach to Change}

Welcome to the New Year! I too have joined the masses of the “New Year, new me” campaign. I will not bore you with my enthusiastic promises and misty eyed visions of the improved me- but rather I wanted to share with you my new approach.

Are you like me? I get all jazzed up and rally myself to take on my new improved way of life. I start quick out of the box, full of determination and vigor, and then in short order start stumbling and tripping, and eventually face plant into a heap. The result is another year goes by and nothing has changed. *sigh*

So now that I know what doesn’t work, I decided to try a new approach. The truth be told I’ve been incorporating my new concept since my last birthday, 2 months ago, and it’s been working very well. The inspiration for this really came from my pal, Winnie, from Healthy Green Kitchen. The idea is not to attempt a total makeover- but to focus on one small positive thing I can do for myself, at least once a week. If I can add one positive small shift a week, by the end of the year I would have made 52 easy and gentle improvements. Isn’t that an amazing thought?!!

I say banish self control! Do away with the struggle and the guilt!

*Just do one small good and nice thing for yourself a week* Now isn’t that so much nicer? And even if I don’t compile 52 changes, at least I’m moving in the right direction.

To give an example: I have reduced the amount of sweeteners in my latte and drinks by a bunch. No real science, I’ve just dialed it down by a small amount and I continue to do that each week. The result is I have lowered my sweetness threshold without my really noticing. I’m a little concerned about putting chemicals into my body, as well as natural sugar, but I really love sweet so much! So a smidge of change over time and now I am at about half of what I was consuming 2 months ago.

Another small change I’ve made is to eat one or two more pieces of fruit a week- in my case specifically, citrus. In the past I would run out and fill a beautiful bowl of fruited bounty, all gung-ho about it. The result would be a slow degradation of my display into a wrinkly and mossy science project. The worst part is the double guilt that the sad display taunts me with- both the failed attempt at my new “way” and the terrible waste of good food.

Instead I’ve taken to buying one or two oranges and then I eat them! I don’t keep them in a pretty bowl on the counter, because it turns out I like mine cold. I perch them on the shelf in the fridge so they are right there when I open the door. This way, when I go foraging for that afternoon pick-me-up snack, my orange is right there for the grabbing.

They say that it takes 3 weeks to create a new habit and I can attest that this is true for me.

The recipe I have for you today is a delicious and healthy meatless meal. I love this dish and often make several at a time and freeze them. They reheat beautifully. The squash is Vitamin A rich, there is great protein in the quinoa and tofu, and there are healthy complex carbs and lovely fiber.

I’ve gotten word back that not everyone is keen on quinoa or can readily find it. Feel free to switch it with Amaranth- HA! just kidding-That’s another grain I’ll be getting to in the near future- You can exchange any other grain or rice that you prefer, and leftovers are perfect.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Grilled Tofu and Quinoa
This dish looks complicated but it really is not. Make extra and freeze for another day.
serves 6
3 medium sized acorn squash
2c of cooked quinoa, or other grain of choice
half a package of firm tofu
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
.25c red onion, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
6 handfuls of baby arugula
.25c pomegranate arils 
3T fresh lemon juice
.5c olive oil
and oil to sautee
Preheat oven to 350˚. Slice the squash in half, scrape out the seeds. Lightly coat the flesh with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt.
Place squash face down on a lined baking sheet and roast until the skin looks a little wrinkly and the flesh is soft. Depending on the size of the squash this should take about 35-40 minutes. When cool slice into quarters- you will have 12 pieces in all.
Remove tofu from the package and place onto a clean kitchen towel and press firmly to release some of the moisture. You can also place a plate on top of the tofu with a heavy object and leave for a few minutes to press out the liquid.
Heat a grill pan and lightly oil. Slice the tofu into quarter inch slices and grill on each side. Remove from the heat and cut into small dice.
In a sautee pan warm some oil on medium high heat. Add the garlic and sautee for 2-3 minutes to release the fragrance. Add the onions, celery and peppers and sautee for just another few minutes leaving the vegetables tender crisp.
Transfer the vegetables and the tofu into a large bowl and add the quinoa. Gently stir to combine. Add S&P to taste.
Mix the lemon juice and oil to make a dressing. Add a few tablespoons into the quinoa mixture then use the rest to dress the arugula.
Lay down a nice layer of arugula for each serving, top with the squash and then fill with the quinoa. Finally sprinkle the pomegranate arils over the top and serve 2 quarters per person.

Spice Marinated Roasted Salmon

Between the holiday gatherings and indulgences it is becoming increasingly more important to eat well whenever possible. I hate the thought of a “diet” as to me that triggers images of falling into the droning pit of Hell that is salad and cans of tuna.

The better antidote is to eat well AND eat healthily. Healthy for my heart, healthy for my hips, and healthy for my soul. We eat at least three times a day, and will do so for the rest of our lives. These are multiple opportunities a day to take the power to create your own best self. It’s also multiple opportunities a day to celebrate and enjoy. ENJOY!

This salmon dish is perfection. Easy to prepare and super kind to the heart and hips. I’m sure by now you don’t need me to tell you how good salmon is for you. Rich in omega 3’s- so good for keeping those blood vessels flexible and healthy. We don’t get nearly enough in most cases, and though taking a supplement can seem like a good idea, the power of food is far healthier- not to mention more delicious.

Roasting is a miracle to fish cooking. First off it’s virtually fool proof (I’ll teach you how), it minimizes the fish smell in the house that you get from stove top preparations, it requires less attention at the stove, and it’s super healthy. If you have any fears of preparing fish this can save you.

Not only that but roasted salmon is so moist, almost creamy in texture, that I promise you’ll fall in love. If you like your fish with a crusty skin, a quick sear in the pan on top of the stove does the trick. Then  simply toss your oven proof pan directly into the oven.

The spice marinade is where the fun is in making this dish. Quick toast some spices in a dry pan. This only takes a minute or two. When the kitchen fills with warm spicy goodness remove the pan immediately and set aside a minute to let the grains cool. Then simply mash them into a powder (or use a spice grinder), add a touch of oil and apply paste to the top of the fish. You can just let this sit for a bit while you set the rice to cooking for instance, or even marinate the fish do the night before and keep in the fridge until ready to roast.

The simple sauce is made with Greek yogurt with chopped fresh mint and cilantro. The combination added a bright fresh note that played against the depth of the rich fish and the spices.

What is also fantastic about this meal is it’s a wonderful thing to prepare for a group. The fish can be lined up on baking sheets and kept in the fridge. The rice can be made ahead of time and rewarmed, leaving just quick sautee of asparagus for last minute.

Spice Marinated  Roasted Salmon
serves 4

4 5oz pieces of fresh salmon
1T cumin seeds
1T caraway seeds
2t fennel seeds
1T white peppercorns
2T olive oil

3T finely minced fresh mint
3T finely minced fresh cilantro, including stems
1t olive oil
1c Greek yogurt
milk for thinning- if desired

In a dry frying pan place the spices over medium heat. Toast carefully until they begin to release their aromatics. Taking care not to burn. This will take just a minute or two.

Remove from the flame and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Place the spices into a mortar and pestle, or spice grinder, and reduce to a rough powder.

Stir in olive oil and salt and pepper, creating a paste.

Rinse and pat dry fish, then place skin side down onto a lined baking sheet. I use paper shopping bags to line my sheets, cut to size.

With fingers, spread the marinade paste over the entire top of the fish. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap and allow the flavors of the marinade to permeate the fish for a few minutes.

Preheat oven to 400˚

In a small bowl combine the herbs, yogurt, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

When the oven is ready set the fish into the center of the oven. The rule of thumb is ~10 minutes per inch of fish. After about 8 minutes I employ the poke method. I simply press down on the top of the fish. If it feels jiggly or resistant in the middle I give it more time. A minute or two later I’ll check again. The feel is one of give, not resistance.

When it comes to salmon you can err on the side of undercooking, and some people even prefer it. After you remove the fish from the oven it will continue to cook for another minute or so, so be brave and go for the sooner than the later.