Kale and Quinoa Salad


photo 2

This salad is loosely based off of my kale and walnut pesto recipe. But with a few revisions, I’ve come up with a salad that’s light, yet hearty enough for a main course! And as always, there’s room for plenty of versions – substitute your favorite nuts and dried fruits to make it your own. You can swap out the quinoa for bulger wheat or another of your favorite grains or seeds. Just remember, the key is in the blanching of the kale which brightens up the leaf and softens its texture.

The best thing about this is it combines several “super” foods:  kale, quinoa, cranberries and walnut oil which has 1.77g of Omega 3’s per serving! So feel free to indulge!

Continue reading

Kale and Walnut Pesto


Kale is such a super food… add walnuts, olive oil and lemon zest and this little gem is unstoppable.  I’ve struggled to find ways to prepare kale that I enjoy. It can be bitter and a little tough. But I could eat this pesto by the spoonful!  I’m currently enjoying it on a Triscuit® but you can put it on just about anything. I’m thinking about smothering a chicken breast with it for dinner – but my favorite way to use it is to dollop it onto a crostini that has been pan-sauteed in butter.

So run , don’t walk, to your nearest grocery (or better yet, Farmer’s Market)… buy a large batch of kale (curly, flat, rainbow – it doesn’t matter)… a good size lemon (Meyer lemons if you can find them!) and some fresh garlic and make enough to eat all week!  Keep in mind that the shelf-life for this pesto is about a week. Read the Perfect Health section below below to see why you want to incorporate kale into as many meals as you can.

Ingredients
4-6 cups (about 6.5 ounces) kale leaves, ribs removed, coarsely chopped
2-3 large fresh garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts (raw is fine but toasting brings out their nuttiness)
3/4 cup Parmesan (or Vegan Parmesan)
1/3 cup olive oil (for extra walnut taste mix with 1 part walnut oil)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon course sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation
Remove ribs from kale and give it a rough chop. In a large pot, bring water to a boil with a couple of pinches of salt. Prepare a large boil of ice water and set aside. Once water in boiling, add kale for about 1 minute. Your kale will start to turn a brighter green. Remove from kale pot and immediately put in ice water. This is called blanching and is what helps give (and keep) your kale a bright green. Remove kale from ice water after 1 minute and pat dry.

Peel and roughly chop two large bulbs of garlic. If you are using pre-minced garlic, this is roughly 2 tablespoons.

If you are roasting your walnuts, place then in a dry saute pan over medium heat. Continue moving them in the pan until you begin to smell their nuttiness. It should take about 2 minutes.  Keep an eye on them – they burn easily (which is why I don’t put them in the oven anymore – I always forget them!).

Ready to Make?
In a food processor, add the kale, garlic, Parmesan and walnuts. Pulse 6-7  times until it’s well-combined. Slowly, through the feed tube, drizzle the oil until mixture is moist and holds together. Remove lid and zest your lemon directly into mixture. Zest, and not juice, makes all the difference here. It’s sweet and tangy and every once in a while you’ll get a burst of it in your mouth. So delish.  But feel free to add a little juice for extra lemony flavor. Now add salt and pepper, return lid and pulse a couple of more times. NOTE: It’s important to use the pulse feature and not let your processor run… you want to retain some of the leafy texture of the kale and not make mush. I may or may not be speaking from experience.

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. And presto you have pesto!

The Perfect Bite
Whenever making a dip or spread or something that is not meant to be eaten on its own… it’s important to taste-test it once just with a spoon and then again with what you plan on having it with. On it’s own it may taste like it needs more salt, but if you plan on eating it with salty chips or crackers… it may be fine as it is once combined with it’s dipping partner.

The Perfect Pairing
Since this is a new item to me… I may discover more and more pairing as I go.. so check back regularly.  I’m certain this will be delightful on a crostini and absolutely divine mixed into some whole wheat pasta. Let me know if you try it on something yummy! Enjoy this with a crisp pinot grigio.

The Perfect Health
Kale’s risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates in kale play a primary role in achieving these risk-lowering benefits. Read more about the benefits of here.

Muffin Mania


I went a little crazy this weekend… call it Easter-inspired or bad-weather-I’m-stuck-indoors-inspired… but I’ve been baking muffins. Lots and lots of muffins. Below are my four favorites: Tuscon Lemon Muffin (with my homemade ricotta and olive oil); Key Lime Zest Muffin; Dark Cocoa Muffin; and Bacon Cheddar & Jalapeno Corn Muffin. All four were adapted from this month’s Cooking Light Magazine, with small tweaks of my own.

Instead of doing four separate entries I’ll just list the recipe under each photo.

Tuscan Lemon Muffin
Ingredients
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup low-fat or part-skim ricotta (best with homemade)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (roughly one large lemon)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (half of one large lemon)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2-3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Items Needed
12 muffin cup liners
Cooking Spray
Non-stick muffin pan

Ready To Cook?
Preheat over to 375º
Combine first four ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl and create a well in the center. In a separate bowl combine ricotta and remaining ingredients through egg. Pour mixture into the well and stir gently just until moist.

Place muffin cup liners into pan and coat with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly between cups. Using a small ice cream scooper will help you evenly distribute batter and makes for a neater process. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over top of batter.

Bake at 375º for 16 minutes or until a wooden tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes.

Calories 186; Fat 6.2g; Protein 4g; Carb 29.5g; Fiber 0.6g; Chol 21mg; Iron 1mg; Sodium 160mg; Calc 81mg

Key Lime Zest Muffin

Ingredients
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup low-fat whipped cream cheese
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime zest (roughly three small-medium limes)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (roughly 2 limes)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2-3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime zest for topping

Items Needed
12 muffin cup liners
Cooking Spray
Non-stick muffin pan

Ready To Cook?
Preheat over to 375º
Combine first four ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl and create a well in the center. In a separate bowl combine cream cheese and remaining ingredients through egg. Pour mixture into the well and stir gently just until moist.

Place muffin cup liners into pan and coat with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly between cups. Using a small ice cream scooper will help you evenly distribute batter and makes for a neater process. Sprinkle (or directly zest using a plane) remaining lime zest and turbinado sugar over top of batter.

Bake at 375º for 16 minutes or until a wooden tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes.

Calories 186; Fat 6.2g; Protein 4g; Carb 29.5g; Fiber 0.6g; Chol 21mg; Iron 1mg; Sodium 160mg; Calc 81mg

Dark Cocoa Muffin

Ingredients
1 3/4 cup all=purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup dark chocolate mini-chips, divided

Items Needed
12 muffin cup liners
Cooking Spray
Non-stick muffin pan

Ready To Cook?
Preheat oven to 400º
Combine first six ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl stirring with a whisk. Create a well in the center of mixture. In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients through egg. Pour mixture into the well and stir gently just until moist. Fold in chocolate chips until mixed evenly into batter.

Place muffin cup liners into pan and coat with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly between cups. Using a small ice cream scooper will help you evenly distribute batter and makes for a neater process. Sprinkle remaining and chocolate chips on top of batter.

Bake at 400º for 15 minutes or until a wooden tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes.

Calories 191; Fat 7.6g; Protein 3.1g; Carb 29g; Fiber 1.5g; Chol 15mg; Iron 1.5mg; Sodium 197mg; Calc 37mg

Bacon Cheddar & Jalapeno Corn Muffin

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 center-cut bacon slices, cooked, drained and crumbled
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 `/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Items Needed
12 muffin cup liners
Cooking Spray
Non-stick muffin pan

Ready To Cook?
Preheat over to 375º
Combine first eight ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl stirring with a whisk. Create a well in the center of the bowl. In a separate bowl combine cream cheese and remaining ingredients through egg. Pour mixture into the well and stir gently just until moist.

Place muffin cup liners into pan and coat with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly between cups. Using a small ice cream scooper will help you evenly distribute batter and makes for a neater process.

Bake at 375º for 15 minutes or until a wooden tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm with a pat of butter.

Calories 160; Fat 7.9g; Protein 4.8g; Carb 17.7g; Fiber 0.9g; Chol 23mg; Iron 0.9mg; Sodium 299mg; Calc 89mg