kale-ing me softly

I love kale. Kale is trendy right now, so I dislike admitting that I am one of many obsessed with this vegetable. But hey, a trend never kaled anyone, and besides, this food-craze is entirely justified. Kale is versatile, delicious (I mean it!) and very nutritious. Let’s take a look at what kale has to offer.

  • lowers cholesterol (particularly if steamed)
  • lowers risk of bladder, colon, breast, ovary and prostate cancer
  • provides comprehensive support for the body’s detoxification system
  • contains at least 45 different flavenoids (what the heck’s a flavenoid?! I didn’t know either! It seems that flavenoids have anti-oxident and anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.)
  • it contains loads of vitamin A, K, C and manganese (manganese — another mystery element I knew nothing about. It seems we need small amounts of it in our diet each day. It contributes to healthy skin and bones, and helps regulate blood sugar, among other things.)

There’s probably more, but that’s a good starting point. You can read more here. I recognize that this blog post is edging into dangerously boring territory, but bear with me; I am just getting to the good part: the recipe!

Kale recipes abound! Sometimes the sheer multitude of them makes me fear I’ll kale over with indecision; which one to make?! Well, here I have for you the one you need to make. It is, in fact, the only one I ever make, these days, although now that I know that steamed kale has special health benefits, I might start steaming it every now and then.

This recipe calls for one bunch of kale. I always buy organic kale (apples are another produce item I always buy organic), as it is relatively high (high = higher levels of pesticides) on the list of contaminated fruits and veggies. If you’d like to learn more about this, check out the Environmental Working Group. They test for pesticide residue on crops and then rate each crop on a continuum of contamination — check out the list here.).

Onward!

KALE SALAD

ingredients:

kale

olive oil

lemon juice

salt and pepper

garlic

Parmesan cheese (the kind in a can)

one hard-boiled egg

process:

Grab one bunch of kale and remove the leaves from the stems. Shred the leaves (or chop them, if that’s your thing; I prefer to rip with my hands) until they are about one inch squared (bite-size).

Douse the kale liberally in olive oil. I use a lot; probably four tbs, or even five. The kale should be pretty drenched.

Next, begin to massage the kale. Yes, this sounds ridiculous, and you might feel ridiculous. The point is to sort of soften the kale by massaging the oil into it. Massage until you are sure you feel completely ridiculous. Just kidding. Massage until the kale starts to get a bit wilted; one minute should do it.

Next, douse the kale in lemon juice. Juice from one lemon should suffice.

Grab some salt, and sprinkle the kale with just a pinch.

Garlic is next. Now, we all have a different threshold of tolerance for garlic. Mine is high, although I have (a few times) made this recipe and overdone the garlic to such an extent that I a) was the only one who would eat the kale salad b) regretted eating the kale salad because all I could taste was garlic for 24 hours and my tummy just. didn’t. feel. right. It did knock my head cold out of the park, though (raw garlic is good for that).

For the modest garlic consumer, I would suggest two cloves for this recipe. If you’d like it to have a bite, a kick, and the ability to repel vampires, up the ante a bit. Do what you feel.

Crush the garlic, add to the kale.

Sprinkle the kale with about a quarter cup Parmesan.

Next, take one hard-boiled egg, chop it up, add to kale. I never do this step, but this is the way the recipe was introduced to me. I like it just as much without the egg, so I usually omit.

Mix all the ingredients together until they are well-incorporated. Serve and enjoy!

Theo, 19.5 months old, loves this salad. He gobbles it down and asks for “mo, meas!” (I’m teaching him manners. Meas=please but no one else knows that unless I tell them. Some day his please will be intelligible to the world at large and that will be a good day. For now, I relish his desire to append a bellowed “MO!!!” to “MO!!! … MEAS!!!”. One must start somewhere.

Kale salad chronicles:

Tonight while Theo was happily munching the little kale fragments we sprinkled on his high chair tray, he suddenly winced and said “hot!” (accompanied by vigorous waving of hand near mouth and much dramatic flair). “Hot” is actually one of his favorite words of the moment (along with “messsss!’, said with much gusto while making messes and observing them); he likes to pretend everything is hot, even if it is, like, a chunk of pineapple or a bite of ice cream (two real life examples). So sometimes hot doesn’t really mean hot, in Theo-talk. In this case, I think he’d stumbled upon an unincorporated piece of garlic in the salad. It actually was hot, as in, spicy. If the prospect of this frightens you, make sure you do lots of stirring of the salad before serving.

I would like to note, however, that the garlic did not stop my son from finishing all the salad on his tray. He didn’t even throw any on the floor! Victory.

 

hummus recipe

Hi! I would like to share a recipe for one of my family’s favorite things to eat: hummus! Theo loves the stuff, and has been known to reek like garlic for days after I make a batch of hummus. One night when he was about 7 months old, I was nursing him and I kept smelling something… potent. “Is it Theo?”, I wondered. “What on earth is that smell?!” I knew I had just changed his diaper and the likelihood of it being full so soon was not good. I wondered and wondered and then I put him to bed. The next day when I retrieved him, the smell was there, once again. All of a sudden, I pinpointed it: garlic! The kid was saturated in the stench of the stuff. Gross, but not gross enough to discourage me from offering him hummus on a regular basis.

Theo enjoying a bowl of homemade hummus.

Theo enjoying a bowl of homemade hummus.

This recipe is easy and makes a large batch. Enjoy!

2 cans chickpeas

3 cloves garlic

2 tbs lemon juice (fresh-squeezed or juice from bottle), depending on preference. Give it a taste after adding a few so you can adjust it to your liking.

1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

dash chili pepper

dash cumin

handful of fresh, washed organic spinach, kale, or other greens

Put all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate and eat with veggies, chips, crackers, on salad, on sandwiches, etc.

Theo will eat this stuff for every meal if I let him (and sometimes, if he won’t eat much else, I let him). It makes a fantastic mess, yes, and that’s a pain, but it is hilarious to see his face smothered in green hummus and of course I love to see him eat and enjoy healthy food!

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a new era?

When I was single, my approach to feeding myself was as follows: realize there’s no food to eat in pantry/fridge, go to grocery, randomly grab stuff I felt like eating right then (and presumably til next grocery trip), buy that stuff, and cobble meals together from what I bought as the need arose. I’d go to the store two or three times a week, grabbing snacks, veggies, fruits,  and grains (I was a vegetarian (borne of laziness) at that stage, occasionally choosing meat when out at restaurants but sticking to stuff like quinoa, cheese, yogurt and lentils for protein at home).

Back then, I didn’t often think to tally how much I was spending per month. I didn’t try to conceive and stick to a budget plan. I just bought, and hoped things would work out okay. Usually, things often did not work out okay, as my mother can attest, since she was the one (in my university days) who I needed to call for help with cash flow from time to time (another subject entirely). Sorry Mom! 

I digress. The point here is that when I was single, there was little planning when it came to meals; only purchasing, and hoping that what I picked would feed me till I could make it to the grocery store next. The fly-by-seat-of-pants approach, if you will (I find myself wondering about origin of this expression; find one here). And to be honest, not much changed when I got married (though I did start to prepare and cook more meat-centered meals). In fact, I pretty much continued with this approach up until a month or so ago (after about 2 years of marriage and the birth of our son).

However, the seat of those flying pants has worn clear through. Gotta get some new ones. See, we’ve been on a pretty strict monthly budget for a while now, and after tallying up our spending, realized we weren’t really sticking to it. We weren’t wildly out of budget, but we were over-spending. Now it is obvious to me that part of the reason we were not able to stick to it is that we were not determining a meal plan before heading to the store. I was still using the spontaneous grab-and-go method (though I did think up meals for the week while shopping, or on my way to the store). We were sometimes running out of healthy options for meals about halfway through the week, and then I had a massive insight that isn’t really an insight at all, cause it is glaringly obvious: plan meals ahead of time, buy the stuff for those meals only (allowing room in the budget for stuff like milk and snacks), and you will not run out of food halfway through the week. Who knew?!

In the course of learning about meal planning, I have discovered an entire internet UNIVERSE devoted to the topic.  It is amazing, in the truest sense: both bewildering and perplexing. There are oodles and oodles of noodles blogs about what to eat and how to eat it and how to make it and where to buy it. People post entire meal plans online and take pictures of, like, everything they eat!!! It is weird and surreal and overwhelming and surprisingly helpful (when my head is not hurting from rifling through all the options). I do not picture myself joining the ranks of men and women posting every bite they take on the world wide web… but I have found a few blogs that have healthy recipes fit for toddlers (and moms and dads) and I plan to continue drawing ideas from those as I fumble along the path of planning.

Now that I have started to PLAN, I am learning that while planning takes time, ultimately, it saves time (and time is money, baby, though babies do not make money or time).

More on this topic another time. Until then: readers, do you have any meal-planning tips?