Eat more kale…and here’s how (RECIPE)


Am I the poster child for kale or what?  If you too want to wear your love of kale on your chest, support a good cause and go here to buy one of these babies.

So, the next question is…HOW do I eat more kake?

Answer: It’s so easy!  Kale goes with everything, even chocolate.  Yep, I’ve downed my share of chocolate protein shakes with kale included and I swear, you don’t even taste it. Promise.

My favorite kind of kale is Lacinato kale, AKA Dino kale.  It’s easy to work with because the leaves are soft and less ‘wrinkly’, but in general I’m an equal opportunity kale consumer.

Tonight, to celebrate the arrival of my new shirt, I made this fabulous and very easy kale-inspired recipe


Quinoa, black bean and kale salad
2 cups cooked quinoa, slightly cooled (I cooked mine in the rice cooker with broth)
1 can each: corn and Trader Joe’s Cuban black beans
1.5 cups of finely chopped kale (also from Trader Joe’s in my case)
2 tbsp each: EVOO and fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped scallions
1-2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
spices (about 1 tsp each)  cumin, sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper

Mix the spices, cilantro, scallions with the oil and lemon juice in a bowl, set aside.  Toss the corn and beans with the quinoa.  Add the oil/lemon and mix half-way. Add kale and mix in thoroughly but try not to ‘mush’ the salad – toss lightly.

Chill and let the spices sink in! Enjoy.

This makes about 5-6 cups of salad, and I think it pairs nicely with white fish, such as Tilapia.

Secret to getting in all your veggies: Go VEGAN

I have a secret, which I shall reveal……one of the ways in which I get all my veggies in and learn how to cook with those weird ones, like collards and turnips, is that I go vegan.

Those of you who know me are saying “wait a minute, you totally eat meat”.  yes, this is true, but I also think like a vegan when it comes to getting in my veggies and I use a lot of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks to help me out.

Here’s my thought: meat is relatively easy to prepare, at least in basic ways.  I can broil, bake, pan fry, bbq, etc and get a nice tasty lean protein.  But I can only eat baby carrots and spinach from a bag so long before I really want something creative with vegetables.

I now cook dark, leafy greens, like collards or kale at least once a week, and often 2-3x/week.  But if you knew me 10 yrs ago, this was soooo not the case.  I was your basic American.  I though canned green  beans and canned corn were pretty fine choices to fill my veggie requirement, especially if I ate them with ketchup (yes, gross, I know – but I was all about making them sweet).

My mom gave me my first vegetarian cookbook, entitled “Vegetarian cooking for everyone” by Deborah Madison about 5 yrs ago when I started to seriously change my diet and wanted to know how to make veggies taste better than ice cream.

I give myself permission to write in my cookbooks.  I see  them as living, breathing entities that capture both the author’s perspective and my own about a dish.  Plus, I’m just a geek and like to make note in books.  it make me feel smart.

thank God I have a very compassionate husband, as some of my adventures did not turn out well…such as the lasagna which had about 5 lbs of mushrooms and a bechamel sauce.  I’m sooo not a French chef, and totally underestimated the importance of cooking fine sauces in a tender way with a proven method.   I think we went out to Mexican that night instead…..

So, I want to share one of my favorite recipes from this book.  This one usually comes out pretty well – even for first timers!  I modified it a bit from the original. It makes an awesome summer salad and you can absolutely go carnivorous with it by adding chunks of chicken or turkey to it, or on the side.


PS: other cookbooks I like are :”Greens”, also by Deborah Madison, and the Blossoming Lotus cookbook.

Quinoa or Bulgur and Green Lentil Salad with Chickpeas

Serves 2-4, depending on serving size

½ cup French green lentils, washed
1 bay leaf
¾ cup fine or medium bulgur or quinoa
5 scallions, including some of the greens, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
Grated zest of 2 lemons
6-8 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1.5 cups chickpeas (rinsed and drained if canned)
2 cups finely chopped parsley
1 – 1.5 cups chopped vegetables of your choice: cucumber, colored bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, etc
½ cup chopped mint

Cover the lentils with water in a small saucepan, add the bay leave and ½ tsp salt.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 25 minutes, until lentils are tender but firm.  Let them stand another 20 minutes.  Cook the grain (bulgur or quinoa as needed)

Whisk together scallions, garlic, lemon zest and juice, oil, paprika, and ½ tsp salt in a large bowl.  When lentils are done, drain them and add them to the dressing.  Press out any excess water.  Add the bulgur along with the chickpeas, parsley, mint, and vegetables.  Toss gently and then taste for salt/pepper. Can be served warm or cold.

eating off-white in a “white” world…. (quinoa recipe included)

They say you can’t go home again……and I think they are correct.

This weekend my husband and I went to Northern CA to check out his new grad school (UC Davis) and visit family.  Food issues have always been a family affair for me.  Dad was overweight and had a stroke in 1995 and mom shared my love of cake frosting and baked goods most of my childhood.  I’d say to some degree we all had an eating disorder.  Never was there left-over ice cream or desserts in my home, no matter how large a package was purchased.  I simply thought it was normal.

So here I am, with my high maintenance diet, going home.  I know where all the treats hide: chocolate chips in the outside freezer, homemade biscotti in the spare bedroom, ice cream in the kitchen and whatever was baked for the weekend’s bbq is probably resting in the laundryroom.  Yes, I come from a long line of food hiders.  Either because the family would eat all of the goodies, or because ants would find their way into the cupboards, food was always kept anywhere BUT the kitchen.  There were stashes everywhere, which meant that I adopted a pattern of ‘sneaking’ from a young age.

For the most part I faired well.  My mom tries to supply me with healthy options, but unfortunately her Splenda-baked lemon cheesecake just did not work out (no dairy and no Splenda for me).  She also lovingly made a HUGE tray of lasagna for everybody to eat….well, except me, as I best not have dairy or white flour.  Nothing like watching others eat homemade lasagna while you chomp down on a green salad with chicken to make you want to devour a whole tray by yourself.

So what did I end up doing…..”sneaking”, of course!!!  I dipped my hand into the Ghirdhelli chocolate chips several times when I was near the outside freezer. I could feel the tension in my stomach and I did not enjoy them at all.  “so this is what I was like growing up…”, I thought to myself.  It was all about getting what I was NOT supposed to have.

The good side of ugly:  compared with past visits, I did relatively well at staying away from the white stuff.  I declined an offer for Starbuck’s drinks when everbody else was slurping down latte’s.  I did not eat late at night when I arrived on Thursday evening, despite a growling stomach.  Choices I make past 8pm are never in my favor.   I even resisted the peanut butter, cheesecake, cheese and ice cream.  I did have a homemade biscotti, and damn was it good!

Other off-white survival tips I use:

  • Start every day with warm lemon water.  This helps keep the GI track a flowin’.   Lemon water also kills a craving, especially if you add tons of lemon.
  • Distract myself when food becomes tempting and I’m not hungry.  My 4-yr old nephew was a great distraction, and he was up for a little fun anytime.
  • Make a dish of my own for family picnics, etc.  I chose quinoa date salad (recipe below) and tabouleh (from Near East).
  • Tell your family about your food limitations. I couldn’t be chowing on peanut butter because everybody knew that it wasn’t a great food choice for me.  I was rigorously honest so I could keep myself healthy.
  • Become your own observer.  I enjoyed watching myself get into ‘sneaky’ eating mode and seeing how I felt, thought and acted. It really was like Jr. High again.  Consequently, Jr. High is when I started obsessing on sugar for the sake of control/rebellion/pleasure.

Quinoa date salad

Serves 4
3/4 cup quinoa, not soaked
1.5 cups water
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp each: cinnamon, ginger, cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds
3/4 cup chopped dates

Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil and then simmer covered until quinoa absorbs the liquid.  Just after the boil add vanilla, salt, and spices.    Chop the dates and almonds finely.  Add to quinoa 2-3 minutes before cooking is complete.  Serve warm or cold.