End (or Begin) the Year on a Healthy Note: Lemon-Herb White Bean and Kale Salad Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

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I can’t believe we are at the end of the year! Last New Year’s is still so vivid in my mind, but now we’re saying goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016! This year brought challenges and opportunities (making a pie for a movie!), crossing Bonnie Slotnick’s cookbook store off my bucket list, and learning more and more about food, nutrition, and cooking. I’m ready to see what the new year will bring.

And no doubt it will bring more healthy cooking and eating. After a few days of out of the ordinary food, I really wanted a healthy salad. And I hit the jackpot with this one: kale, white beans, a flavorful vinaigrette. It was perfect!

This salad would be perfect on its own as a main dish for lunch or dinner, but will work equally well as a side dish at dinner. Easy to assemble, you can serve it warm (which I did) or chilled (like I had for leftovers) and both are equally tasty. If you wanted to add a little grated cheese or a few pieces of chicken, the salad will only get better.

The Lacinato (or dinosaur) kale at the coop was flimsy and had about three stalks in each bunch, so I decided to go with plain curly, and chopped, you’ll never know the difference. And instead of cannellini beans, I opted for the nondescript “small white beans,” that were just right.

New Year’s will of course include my Good Luck Peas for lunch, with hopes that it brings good luck for the coming year. And as we close the year, my fourth as the author of this blog, I will raise my glass to my readers from near and far tomorrow evening and bid you a Happy New Year! May you find light and love in the coming year!

Happy Cooking!

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Lemon-Herb White Bean and Kale Salad
This recipe first appeared in the December 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine. 

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cups thinly sliced Lacinato kale
1 (15-ounce) can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add kale to pan; cook 30 seconds. Add beans to pan; cook 1 minute.

2. Combine remaining 7 teaspoons oil and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over kale mixture. Serve warm or chilled.

MVK’s *Like* of the Week: 15 Ways to Shop Smarter

shoppingI am always looking for ways to save money on food for my household, as it is one of the largest bills each month. Thekitchen.com created this list of past articles that is a great start for your new year! You can read the article by clicking here. Happy Savings!

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Eat Even More Kale! Kale Salad

It doesn't get more beautiful than this at dusk these days.

It doesn’t get more beautiful than this at dusk these days.

So I’ve brought you a couple of kale recipes through the years, sautéed kale and kale chips. This is the latest recipe that I’ve been making almost nightly for supper, Kale Salad. When the eater of the house wants more than one helping of salad, or make that kale in general, you just know it’s good!

A couple of weeks ago after a long walk with friends, I was asked if we wanted some kale from her garden. Never one to say no to fresh veggies, I accepted a large bag, even though I had just bought a bunch at the coop the day before. While I figured I’d make a big batch of kale chips, I remembered a salad recipe that I make every fall.

Kale is a hardy enough vegetable that it can withstand the first few frosts here in Vermont, and I’ve always found it to be sweeter in the fall than it is in the summertime. Which is why it makes for a delicious salad.

Because kale is tougher and less delicate than normal salad greens, the first step to take is to do something to make it a bit softer and a little more palatable to taste, which means massaging it with a little bit of olive oil. Many recipes I’ve seen have you massaging the kale for several minutes; I don’t think that’s necessary, one minute or so is fine unless your kale is extremely dry And while I feel silly literally giving my salad greens a massage (when I’m the one who needs it!), I tell myself I’m moisturizing my hands and fingernails!

This recipe is loosely based on one I used many years ago from a Food Network show. Gone is the original, but this is my rendition.

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Autumn Kale Salad
Apologies, I didn’t give you this recipe last Wednesday, because I found out October 2nd was National Kale Day

4-5 stems of kale, removed from the stem, rinsed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
Olive oil
Almonds
Raisins
Salt

Salad dressing
The juice of half a lemon and honey. Depending on how old your lemons are will depend on how much juice it makes. Add the honey one teaspoon at a time to get the right balance of sweet and sour.

1. In a large mixing bowl, tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add a couple teaspoons of olive oil, and “massage” the oil into the leaves for about a minute.

2. Add some almonds cut in half horizontally, and a small handful of raisins.

3. Add a little bit of salad dressing and mix. Add salt to taste.

In the Media
One of my favorite podcasts I listen to is “America’s Test Kitchen.” A combination of recipes, advice, and food observations, the one I recently listened to included an interview with food writer, Michael Pollan. I always wonder why so many children–and even adults–have food allergies these days. I can’t walk into a room without someone having a gluten, dairy, or nut allergy these days. Pollan makes the observation that given our hyper-awareness for germs in this day in age that perhaps we humans are not exposed to the germs our parents and grandparents were, and thusly that lack of exposure has allowed our guts to not get the good bacteria we actually need. This theory made a lot of sense and is one I’d never thought of before.

You can listen to the episode here,  America’s Test Kitchen Podcast.

Kale Chips

Even though it’s dark when I get up in the morning now, I’m at least treated to incredible sunrises.

I was a little insulted last week when I was listening to the latest episode of “America’s Test Kitchen Radio” and when a listener called in about making kale chips. Bridget Lancaster said they’ve been “in fashion on the food blogs lately.” Well folks, kale chips has been on my list of recipes to bring to you this fall, so I guess I’m in fashion by joining the ranks of the rest of the food bloggers in writing about them!

There was an advertisement a long time about eating potato chips, how you couldn’t eat just one. I’m like that; I’m much more of a savory, not sweet gal; I will take a bag of chips and some dip over dessert any day. I heard about kale chips from my sister-in-law about a year ago and the idea always intrigued me. One night when I was looking for a little snack before dinner, with a bunch of kale in the fridge, I decided to try them. And I haven’t looked back since!

This is perfect time of year to make these, as kale is one of those never-ending fall vegetables; I can get local kale through October and into November, they like the cold! These will go quickly, so watch out! They melt in your mouth, a crunchy and crispy “chip.” Take a few stalks of rinsed kale, take them off their stalk, and tear into pieces, about 3-4 inches. In a big mixing bowl, add the kale and a little bit of either olive oil or coconut oil (unrefined), place them on a cookie sheet so they are separated, add a dash of Kosher salt (or table salt if you have it), and stick it in a 350 degree preheated oven. If it looks like a large amount, don’t worry, they shrink. I’ll leave them in the oven for anywhere from 10-15 minutes, checking on them to make sure everything is cooking correctly. Of course, the chips on the edges are done the earliest, the ones in the middle take a little bit more time. These usually don’t make it to a serving dish, we’ll just eat them off the cookie sheet. Much more healthy than an actual cookie!

I use my large mixing bowl to “massage” the kale with oil.

Kale Chips
5-6 stalks of kale (I prefer curly)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil (unrefined)
Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Rinse the kale and remove the center stalk. Tear into 3-4 inch pieces.
3. In a large mixing bowl, add the kale and whatever oil you’re using.
4. Place in the oven and bake until crispy, 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven. Toss occasionally.

The kale “shrinks” when it’s cooked, so you might want to keep your bowl handy for another batch!

Eat More Kale!

You may have heard about the fight with Vermont artist, Bo Muller-Moore, who is being sued by the fast-food company Chick-fil-A over his phrase, “Eat More Kale,” which is similar to their slogan, “Eat mor chiken.” (Don’t even get me started on the non-sensical, incorrect grammar of that slogan. Apparently cows wrote it. Seriously.)

I’ll be honest, I’ve seen the Eat More Kale bumper stickers for years and thought it was a band. Anyways, kale is one of those “miracle greens” in my opinion. I always feel healthy after I eat it, although I’ll admit sometimes it can be incredibly bitter. But if you pick that just right bunch, it can be wonderful and sweet.

The other night, I pulled out some local kale and cooked it up to serve with some cod and brown rice. It was perfect.  It even got a thumb’s up from the picky kale eater in the house!

Sauteed Kale with Garlic
This recipe is one you can substitute any dark green: Swiss Chard, beet greens, even spinach. Even if the greens are looking a bit sad, you can still follow this and they will be tasty. It can be served as a side dish, or if you prefer, mix it with some pasta, mashed potatoes, or even some chicken or other protein. It’s very versatile, so adding it to anything you decide will be delicious!

1 bunch dark leafy green (kale, chard, beet greens), chopped into bite-size pieces
Some good olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
Water
Crushed red pepper
Squirt of lemon or vinegar
Salt and pepper

In a wide pan, saute the garlic in olive oil. When they are just the hintest of blond, add the greens. It’s helpful if you’ve just washed these, don’t worry about the extra water. This may also take two steps, depending on the size of your bunch of greens. With a spatula or tongs, move the greens around in the pan, until they start to “melt.” Add the rest of the greens, if necessary. Add a little bit of water to the greens, about a quarter cup, cover, and cook at low heat for about ten minutes or so. (You can even leave them longer, if you like. Nothing will go wrong with cooking them even longer, unless you are using spinach, which is more tender and cooks more quickly.) By the time you come back, the large bunch of greens will now be reduced considerably. Add crushed red pepper and/or additional olive oil to taste, if desired, and a squirt or two of lemon juice. Salt, pepper, and serve!

“Food” for Thought

I thought I would share this little tidbit that was published the latest newsletter from my co-op. Despite my love of cooking, it is not beneath me to buy a frozen meal for lunch or the occasional frozen pizza when I’m home alone for dinner (this is one of my indulgences).

Eat Food
These days this is easier said than done, especially when seventeen thousand new products show up in the supermarket each year, all vying for your food dollar. But most of these items don’t deserve to be called food–I call then edible food-like substances. They’re highly processed concoctions designed by food scientists, consisting mostly of ingredients derived from corn and soy that no normal person keeps in the pantry, and they contain chemical additives with which the human body has not been long acquainted. Today, much of the challenge of eating well comes down to choosing real food and avoiding these industrial novelties.
Michael Pollan, Food Rules, An Eater’s Manual

Finally . . .

I wish everyone the happiest of holidays with you and your families!