Kale

WARM BUTTERNUT SQUASH, PEPPER AND KALE SALAD

WARM BUTTERNUT SQUASH, PEPPER AND KALE SALAD

With some of my favourite veggies in the house I could not resist making them into this tasty butternut squash, pepper, onion and kale salad. How could you not be tempted by the gorgeous colours? You know this must be good for you. In my book every vegetables is a “superfood” it doesn’t have to come back from the depth of the Amazon forest to do your body good.

The sign of a tasty dish is when you find yourself having an argument with your husband over who will get to eat the leftovers. I won’t call it an argument it was more a case of “false” generosity:
“No, you have it’”
“No, that’s fine you can have it.”
This went on for a while and I know we were both thinking, “I really want it myself”….
In the end we did split the salad and treated it as a side dish rather than a main.

Make this salad ahead, it sure is perfect for a picnic or a take to work lunch. I can’t wait to serve this to my friends in summer whether its at a picnic or a garden party. I am sure it will be a hit. I may add some courgettes and aubergines to this mix too. Yum.


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WARM BUTTERNUT SQUASH, PEPPER AND KALE SALAD with miso dressing

1Tbs coconut oil
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
2 red bel peppers, cut into bite size pieces
1 onion, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
200g kale, torn into bite size pieces
juice of 1 lime
3 tbs miso paste
1tbs coconut nectar syrup (or other sweetener)
water (about 1/4 cup - 60ml)
2 tbs black sesame seeds

  • Place a roasting dish with the coconut oil into the oven for a minute or until it has melted.
  • Add your butternut squash and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Next add the peppers and onion. Roast for 30 minutes or until the squash is soft and starting to caramelise.
  • Steam the kale for 2-3minutes.
  • In a large bowl mix together the miso, lime juice, coconut nectar syrup and water (add more water if the dressing seems to thick). Add all the vegetables to the dressing, mix well to coat.
  • Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve. It is great warm or cold next day.


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SATAY KALE CHIPS

SATAY KALE CHIPS

Kale season is in full swing, I am putting it into smoothies, juices, stews and salad, but I will admit, kale chips are still my family’s firm favourite. I have turned many people onto kale chips, even some of my kids’ friends (talk about success!!).

I have to stand up and admit that I am a peanut butter addict, I have it on oat cakes or toast, in a quesadilla (with mashed banana), I add it into stews (and soups) and I can eat satay sauce by spoonfuls. Satay sauce with stir fries, as a dip for veggies, as a dressing for noodle salad… In my world anything tastes better with peanut butter. Why not satay sauce on kale chips right?

There is a good reason to serve kale and peanut butter together. I have found a study that shows the increase of beta carotene (from kale) conversion to vitamin A in the presence of peanut butter (yes it is the fat in the peanut butter that it the magic ingredient). Isn’t this the best excuse to make more kale/peanut butter recipes??? Not that I need an excuse to make this crunchy pea nutty treat…

Check out the study here:
http://www.fasebj.org/content/28/1_Supplement/LB417.short

the chips
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SATAY KALE CHIPS
ingredients
1 bunch of kale
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (organic, no sugar added)
cayenne pepper to taste (1/4 tsp)
2 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs soya sauce
warm water

method
  • Strip the kale leaves off the stalks, wash and dry thoroughly. I used a salad spinner to do this job.
  • In a bowl mix the peanut butter, cayenne pepper, lime juice, soya sauce and enough warm water to achieve a smooth, runny sauce that will easily coat the leaves.
  • Coat the kale leaves in the peanut sauce.
  • Spread the kale on dehydrator sheets and dehydrate for 14 hrs at 115F (46C).

the sauce
IMG_5112

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KERMIT THE SMOOTHIE

KERMIT THE SMOOTHIE

My attempt to detox has hit a wall today. I have been really good avoiding all the things I wanted to avoid - wheat, sugar, alcohol. Today however I took my daughter to the cinema and a lunch of her choice (a girls day out). Unfortunately on top of wanting a pizza she also chose a restaurant. The only dairy and meat free item on the menu was a tomato and olive pasta. My daughter was laughing saying “ detox no more” while I was crying into my far too oily overcooked plate of wheat (!!!).... I think if you break your detox you really need to do it with something that is worth it like Jamie Oliver’s spaghetti alla Norma not this pile of rubbish.

Never mind I am back on track. And as my fridge is jammed packed of veggies this shouldn’t be a problem. I have been eyeing the celeriac and beetroot in my veg drawer so hopefully they will come together into a delicious salad tomorrow. Earlier today I was going to make some kale chips today but I noticed a large caterpillar was swimming in the water as I was washing the kale. The green creature was saved but left me with some rather unappetising deposits of “recycled kale” among the dark green leaves. I thought dehydrator just won’t do and kale will have to be cooked at much higher temperature. That recipe will be coming soon.

Today I will give you a kale smoothie I had a few days ago. It was so neon green that my friend who saw it on my personal Facebook page exclaimed: “What have you done to Kermit???” Hence the name. Delicious it is and rest assured no frogs (or caterpillars) were harmed in making of this breakfast.

kermit-the-smoothie

KERMIT THE SMOOTHIE

Serves 1-2

ingredients
2 cups kale leaves
2 cups frozen mango
2 Deglet Noir dates (or 1 medjol)
1 slice of lemon (with skin)
2 tbs ground flax
1/2 tsp probiotic powder
1 1/2 cups water (or coconut water)

Just put all ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth.
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KALE WITH MISO AND CHILLI

KALE WITH MISO AND CHILLI

Recently my IBS went out of control. I was so happy not to have had a flair up since April and here it was with a vengeance. As if this IBS monster stored its evil energy and unleashed it all at once. For over 2 weeks I was in pain, had no appetite and had whole host of other symptoms. A hot bath was my only relief but you can only stay there for so long...

Thanks to Dr Google I could list a number of diseases I probably had. It was as if the rational and the irrational part of my brain were fighting for the spotlight. I was sure that it was IBS but at the same time I have never felt this bad before. It doesn’t help when people tell you: "WOW you lost weight!" I was getting a bit defensive, exclaiming rather firmly: "NO I DID NOT!"

Finally I went to see my GP. The first thing he said? You lost weight! GRRRR. I hopped on the scales and the result? No, I did not loose weight. We decided to run full blood screen. I think he was doing it for the peace of my mind. We ran antibody for coeliac disease too.

I went gluten free, I just need to take control of something. In the meantime (it takes a week for the blood tests to come back) I started to feel better. Finally (and I celebrated this) I started to feel hungry, my stomach was happily growling again. I feel so much better. Not 100% but so much better.

My blood test came back today. Yes, all came back perfectly healthy. No coeliac disease. Nothing out of place. Actually pretty much 99% of everything tested is slap bang in the middle. Even this doesn’t explain this IBS malarky but I do admit I am happy. Oh yeah and for all the plant based diet doubters,
my iron levels are perfect!!! Now I am going to hit the beast with slippery elm, glutamine, probiotics, digestive enzymes....and a clean plant based food of course.

My doctor asked me whether I want to treat it or manage it. I want to manage it, no pills please. Impressed I was when he suggested enteric coated peppermint tablets (that's what my lecturer recommended too!). Adding them to the above list. They apparently work as well as the usually prescribed antispasmodics.

So after several weeks of plain unexciting foods (in minute portions) I am excited about foods again. I can add some spice and imagination to my dinners. I was craving beans, lentils and curries, little bit of spice, but knew my stomach couldn’t cope. All good now. I cooked curry on Monday, and kale with chilli and miso today. It is good to be back!

kale-in-a-wok


KALE WITH MISO AND CHILLI
Serves 4 as a side dish.

ingredients
350g (12oz) curly kale
1tsp of coconut oil or 3Tbs of water
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 Tbs yellow miso (I use live miso)
1 Tbs Braggs Liquid Aminos or Tamari

method
  1. First pull the kale leaves of the thick stalks, wash and rip into bite size pieces.
  2. In a large wok heat the coconut oil or water, add the garlic and chilli and saute for 1 min.
  3. Next add the kale leaves and saute for couple minutes.
  4. Add 2 Tbs of water, cover with a lid and cook for about 5 min (or as tender as you like it). Add more water if needed but the kale will release moisture.
  5. In a medium bowl mix the miso and braggs. Add in the kale and stir well.
  6. Serve immediately.

kale-with-miso
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SUN DRIED TOMATO KALE CHIPS

SUN DRIED TOMATO KALE CHIPS

There are not many people who are willing to cook for me. I can actually count them on the fingers of my hand. I know this is familiar to anybody who eats differently than what is seen as the norm. Whether you are gluten free, vegan or raw you will find yourself being invited to very few dinner parties. You will be seen as the awkward. Hopefully one day the awkward will be the norm and the norm will become awkward.

My friend J is my dinner party buddy (that sounds way to posh! We just like to cook for each other). We have a very similar food philosophy. Nobody else gets excited about kale coming to season the way we do. We will text each other about organic kale’s appearance on the shelf of the Better Food Company. She has even brought me a bag of kale as a present before. She knows me well.

kale-chips-sundriedtomato
kale pieces stripped off the stalks

I have been trying to convince other non believers into embracing the humble yet amazing kale. I would say my success is about 50/50. Kale chips are the ace card in my pocket. Most people who try them fall under their spell. In one day I had 2 friends on the phone asking for my kale chip recipe :) Yesterday another friend announced they were eating kale chips all last week. I couldn’t be happier.

Brendan Brazier’s “sour cream” and onion kale chips still are the most popular in our house, but these seem to be close second. I think anything tastes better with sun dried tomatoes. If you still are a kale chip virgin please have a go. Even if you don’t have a dehydrator, they taste great made in the oven too (both methods are in my recipe). They will loose their RAW tag but they will still make an incredibly healthy and tasty snack.


SUN DRIED TOMATO KALE CHIPS
1 bag of kale with stalks (350g, 12oz)
2/3 cup cashews (soaked for half an hour and drained)
1/2 cup water
4 sundried tomatoes, soaked for 30 min
1/2 tsp dried garlic
1/2 tbs brags aminos (or tamari)

kalechips-sundried-tomatoes
the sundried tomato sauce

  1. Strip the kale leaves from their stalks.
  2. Wash thoroughly. Rip any larger pieces into bite size pieces.
  3. Dry will in a salad spinner. You will need to do this in three batches. Place the kale into a large bowl (you will need the largest bowl you have)
  4. In a high speed food processor blend all the remaining ingredients into a smooth sauces.
  5. Pour the sauce over the kale leaves and massage it into the kale so that all the leaves are cover with sauce.
  6. If using a dehydrator, place the kale onto your mesh dehydrator sheets (I use 3 in my Excalibur). Dehydrate at 115F (46C) for 12-14 hrs. Crunch test after 12 hours, if the kale chips are not crunchy enough dehydrate for couple more hours.
  7. If using an oven preheat it to 300F (150C). Spread your kale evenly on 2 baking trays and bake the chips for about 25 minutes. After the first 10 minutes keep checking on our chip every 5 minutes. Every oven is different and the kale chips can burn quickly.
  8. Store in an airtight container.
  9. Enjoy!

kalechips-sundried-tomato
crunch time
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KALE AND AVOCADO SALAD WITH MISO

KALE AND AVOCADO SALAD WITH MISO

Does the world need another massaged kale salad recipe? Without a doubt!!! One can’t have enough kale. Even my kids have fallen under its spell. They love Brendan Brazier’s sour cream kale chips, but they also love this salad.

Couple weeks ago I invited a friend over for dinner and made this salad to accompany our mains. My friend watch with amusement as my husband, kids and I fought over the last portion. She proclaimed we were a weird family. I take it as a compliment.

We are all aware of the superior nutrition kale possesses, there are countless articles circulating on vegan websites. It is packed with minerals, vitamins, protein and fibre. When you massage, chop or chew kale you release the fantastic isothiocyanates. These are very potent cancer fighters and help your liver in its hard daily task of detoxification. Pair kale up with the other ingredients in my recipe and you have a dinner of champions.

kale

Now the practical bits. Any white or yellow miso will do great in this recipe (just don’t use brown). I have recently discovered live miso paste in my favorite health food shop chiller. When I opened the lid slight steam (or is it smoke?) seemed to have risen from the jar. The miso was extra zingy and strong, but delicious. If you are a miso virgin you may want to start with the less extravagant version.

Lemon and lime work equally well here. I use whatever is in the fridge. If I have both, I will choose the lime. To make this recipe fully raw, use 1 Tbs of raw agave instead of the 2 Tbs of mirin. I prefer mirin, it had the right amount of sweetness and is a natural partner to miso. They are from the same country after all.

One last note. If you do find you are fighting your loved ones over the last bite, just double the portion. Vegan is about love after all.


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KALE AND AVOCADO SALAD WITH MISO
Serves 4

ingredients
1/2lb (200-250g) kale, stalks removed, shredded
1 heaped Tbs yellow (or white) live miso
juice of 1 lime (or small lemon)
2 Tbs mirin
3 spring onions (scallions)
1 large avocado

method
  1. Place the kale in a large bowl. Add the miso, lime juice and mirin.
  2. Massage the kale and the dressing ingredients together for about 2 minutes. The kale will collapse and the dressing will coat all the kale leaves.
  3. Slice the onions thinly and add into the onions.
  4. Peel the avocado and remove the stone. Cut the avocado flesh bite sized pieces and stir through the leaves.

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KALE KOFTAS WITH SPICED TOMATO SAUCE

KALE KOFTAS WITH SPICED TOMATO SAUCE

As a parent I have an incredible urge to protect my children from all the bad things that happen it the world. On the other hand I do believe that knowledge is power. Macmillan Cancer Support have conducted a survey of 500 children aged 9-16 to find how much they knew about cancer. They found out that children in the UK are lacking cancer knowledge, for example 97% didn’t know that sunburn causes cancer, and a small number (4%) believe that a person can contract cancer from another person.

This made me conduct a survey of my own. My kids know quite a lot, they are aware that alcohol, smoking, high red meat consumption, sunburn and also obesity increase chances of contracting cancer. They can explain that cancer is caused by rogue cells dividing uncontrollably. They can also name several vegetables that offer the best protection against cancer. My son said concluded: “Of course we know quite a bit, we live with you!”

Unfortunately it is not only me sharing my acquired knowledge that makes them more informed than the average, sadly their Grandad died from cancer last summer. They, like many children today, have experienced the impact cancer can have on a person’s life. Not only children but most adults find cancer extremely frightening, but knowing what lifestyle changes can reduce our risk of getting this disease can be empowering.

You couldn’t do better than adding the fantastic kale to your diet. Kale contains isothiocyanates which induce cancer destroying enzymes and inhibitors of carcinogenesis. Unfortunately these amazing facts don’t necessarily mean kids are going to love the rather acquired taste of this green leafy vegetable. Made into koftas, however, kale is transformed into a child friendly meal. Lycopene rich spiced tomato sauce complements these koftas perfectly, enhancing the anticancer properties of this dish even further.

kalekofta2

KALE KOFTAS WITH SPICED TOMATO AND APRICOT SAUCE

Can be oil free.

Serves 4

ingredients

Kale Koftas
200g (1/2lb) shredded kale (tough stalks removed)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
50g (1/2cup) walnuts
60g (1/2cup) cashews
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs tahini sauce
2 Tbs gram flour
(you will need 8 skewers)

Spiced Tomato and Apricot Sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Tbs tomato puree
1 Medjol date, chopped
8 dried apricots, quartered
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tins of tomatoes

kalekoftas


method
  1. First make the koftas.
  2. If using bamboo skewers make sure you soak them in water for half an hour.
  3. Steam the kale for 5 min or until wilted. Cool the kale down.
  4. In a small frying pan heat the 2 teaspoons of oil and gently fry the onions until well caramelized. (You can saute the onions in water for oil free version, they will not get caramelized the same way though)
  5. In a food processor combine the kale, onion, garlic, walnuts, cashews, spices, lemon juice, tahini and gram flour. Process till all well combined with some texture still remaining.(I prefer to pulse the mixture so I can keep an eye on it)
  6. Divide the mixture into 8. Mold each mound of the mixture around a skewer into a kofta shape. Place onto a aluminium foil lined baking tray. Chill in a fridge for half an hour.
  7. While the koftas are resting start on your sauce.
  8. In a medium sauce pan heat 60ml (1/4cup) water and add the onions and garlic. Cook until tender.
  9. Next add the tomato puree and cook for about a minute.
  10. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer gently till ready to serve.
  11. Preheat the grill (broiler) and cook the koftas for about 3 minutes on each side.
  12. If you prefer a smooth sauce blend it in a blender.
  13. Serve the koftas (they slip of the skewer easily) with the sauce alongside some veggies and couscous.


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CHICKPEAS AND KALE WITH BERBERE

CHICKPEAS AND KALE WITH BERBERE

My Dad, who was visiting for two weeks, was scouring the supermarket for his favourite hot smoked paprika. While in the spice isle I notices a small box of Berbere spice mix. Of course I had to have it. Before I buy any spice mix I check the ingredients, anything that has MSG is quickly discounted as are any spice mixes that are padded up with ingredients that shouldn’t be there are rejected too. My berbere mix had nothing sinister in it.

How surprised I was when, after opening the metal box, I found a beautiful concoction of whole spices that hit my nose with an intoxicating heady fragrance. Berbere is a punchy spicy mix from Ethiopia. It always contains chillies and array of fragrant spice. As with most spice mixtures there are variations but mine, apart from chilies, contained black pepper, cumin, coriander, fennel, cloves, allspice, ajwain seed, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg.

Berbere spice mix
berbere-spice

One spice I admit was totally new to me, the ajwan seed. Of course I had to look it up. Ajwain seed is common in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine and comes from the same family as carrots, fennel and dill. Ajwain is believed to increase digestive function, has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. In India it is used to ease asthma and as an ingredient in cough remedies.

I used my berebere to spice up chickpeas and kale that made a perfect topping for a baked potato. I only had white potatoes in my vegetable box but the spiciness would go beautifully with a baked sweet potato. I put 2 teaspons of berbere in my mix, the result was spicy but not blow your head off. The spicy hit of the chillies seems to be eased by the rest of the gorgeous spices.


berberechickpeakale

CHICKPEAS AND KALE WITH BERBERE

Serves 4 as a baked potato topping, 2 if served alongside grain

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp berbere spice mix
1 large tomato, peeled, deseeded and chopped
1 Tbs tomato puree (paste)
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
200 g kale, tough stalks removed, leaves shredded

  1. In a frying or saute pan (you need a larger one to accommodate the kale later) heat couple tablespoons of water. (you can use 1 Tbs oil if you wish)
  2. Add the onion and garlic and saute on medium heat until soft. Add more water if the vegetables start sticking.
  3. Next add the berbere and stir around, saute for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomato to the pan and cook for about 5-10 min until softened.
  5. Add in the tomato paste and cook for about 1 min.
  6. Next add in the chickpeas and about 100ml (under 1/2cup) of water. Cook for 5 min until the sauce thickens.
  7. Add the kale in and stir it into the sauce. Cook until tender, about 10 min. Add more water if the mixture seems too dry.
  8. Serve over baked white or sweet potato, or over some brown rice or other grain.

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KALE AND MANGO SALAD

KALE AND MANGO SALAD

As I am writing today’s blog my kids are working on a word search from the brilliant Summer Plant Strong Challenge from Rip Esselstyn (of Engine2 Diet). You can go on Rip’s website and print out the activity sheets. The activities include colouring, word search, scavenger hunts and kid friendly recipes from some fab plant strong chefs.The first week focuses on plant strong protein, week 2 on calcium and week 3 on the importance of sleep (I so hope this will make my kids go to bed a bit earlier). More weeks of activities to come.

This morning we went to do our weekly shop, my daughter had her first scavenger hunt sheet and looked for all the green veggies and fruit on the list. We bough most of what was on the list and are eating and ticking our way through it. Another challenge for week 1 was to find a kale recipe and of course make and eat it. My son suggested massaged kale and mango salad, I am sure he saw a similar recipe on tv. I was happy to go with the idea. Massaged kale is one of my favourite ways of eating this queen of greens. It went down really well, my son had a double serving.

Why not try this challenge too? It may inspire your kids to try new fruits and veggies. And while you at it check out Rip’s website too. Fab recipes to try. The link below will lead you to the week 3, link to weeks 1 and 2 are on the same page.

http://engine2diet.com/the-daily-beet/plant-strong™-summer-kids-series-week-3-plus-tips-for-teens-by-teens/

kalemangosalad

KALE AND MANGO SALAD
My mango was very yummy but rather stringy that prevented me cutting it into perfect dice. Still it didn’t take away from the flavour.

Serves 4

ingredients
200g kale, stalks removed, leaves shredded
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 small red onion (I used 1/4 of medium red onion), sliced very thin
1 large mango
3 Tbs sunflower seeds


method
  1. Place the kale into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and salt. Rub the leaves between your fingers, a bit like making pastry. Do this for about 2 min, the kale will collapse and feel more tender. The salt and lemon will help tenderise the kale.
  2. Cut the cheeks off the mango, cut the flesh into bite size dice. Toss with the kale leaves. Squeeze the flesh that is left on the stone over the kale, you should get a good amount of mango juice to dress the salad.
  3. Add the onions and seeds. Toss and serve.
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COLCANNON MY WAY

COLCANNON MY WAY

“If you're lucky enough to be Irish, then you're lucky enough.” Irish saying

Today is St Patrick’s Day so it is very fitting to celebrate the Irish. I have always had a soft spot for everything Irish, the superb literature, uplifting music, the dark rich beer or the sexy accent (I still remember hearing Liam Neeson in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives for the first time). My apologies to Scotland but I also believe that Irish Whiskey is the best in the world. The Czech in me also identifies with the Irish through our common love of the humble potato.

Potatoes have always been closely associated with the Irish diet. Not native to Ireland they became incredibly popular after their introduction in the late 16th century. As a crop they were incredibly successful, not only because they thrived in the Irish soil but were also highly nutritious. The poor Irish labourers especially became dependent on the potato. It is interesting that due to diet high in potatoes the Irish peasants were more healthy than those in England (and Europe) whose staple food was the less nutritious bread.

Unfortunately the Irish were so dependent on potato that the 6 year long potato famine (which started in 1845) caused the deaths of 1 million people, and 20-25% of Irish populations to emigrate.

Today potatoes are vilified, the crazy low carb diets tend to compare potatoes to sugar. In my book sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever, however potato is rich in whole host of vitamins and minerals. Potatoes contain significant amount of vitamins B6, B1, C, Potassium, folate, magnesium and even iron. They are rich in fibre (especially if eaten with the skin), low in fat and calories. It is possible to stay healthy on a diet of potatoes only, but diet of sugar only would surely lead to one’s demise.

Here is my take on Colcannon, the traditional Irish dish. The original is made with spring onions (scallions) and heaps of butter and sometimes milk. I have replaced the spring onions with slowly caramelized regular onion and there is not a smidgen of milk or butter. I admit to loving this dish so much that I often make a whole plate for my lunch and savour every last forkful.


Irishmash

COLCANNON MY WAY
I have added some caraway seeds to this dish, that is the Czech in me you can omit it from the recipe. I just can’t imagine cooking potatoes without it!

Serves 4 as a side dish

ingredients
5 medium potatoes, unpeeled
150-200g (about half pound) kale, stalks removed, roughly torn
1/2tsp caraway seed (optional)
1 Tbs rapeseed or olive oil
1 very large onion
salt and pepper

method
  1. First slice the onion as thinly as you can. In a medium frying pan heat the oil and cook the onion till soft and golden brown. This will take about 20min. Stir from time to time to prevent burning.
  2. Cut the unpeeled potatoes into large chunks, place into a large saucepan and pour in enough water to just cover the potatoes. Add the caraway seed if using.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for about 12 minutes.
  4. Next add the kale and cook for further 6 minutes.
  5. Drain the potatoes and kale, mash together with potato masher. You are not looking for a smooth mash, more a crushed potato texture.
  6. Stir the onions through the kale and potato mixture. Season with salt and black pepper.
  7. Enjoy it as a side dish, or like me eat a whole plateful on its own.


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KALE AND GINGER SMOOTHIE

KALE AND GINGER SMOOTHIE

Do you drink green smoothies? If the answer is no than start now. They are nutritious, delicious, quick to prepare, satisfying and the easiest ways to pack some healthy vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients into your body.

When I had my first home made green smoothie, I wasn’t quite sure about the quantities and ended up with a litre of thick yummy goodness. And yes I drank it all. When smoothies are left (even in the fridge) they oxidise and become rather unappealing. I didn’t want to waste it that way. So yes I drank it all, the whole 1 litre. To my surprise I experienced kind of a “smoothie high”, a very strange dizzy floating kind of feeling. I didn’t know this was possible. Than I saw a video of a young cancer patient who had the same experience when he had his first green smoothie. Due to raw food diet his cancer is gone, and like me, he has got used to having green drinks without the feeling of a “high”.

greensmoothie1

Kale and ginger smoothie
You will need a good quality blender to deal with the kale efficiently. My blender can take the apples and pears with pips, stalks and all. Depending on your blender you may have to core them. Instead of making a smoothie you can juice the ingredients to make a green juice (omit the water and ice).

Makes 2 large wine glasses

ingredients
1/3 of a cucumber
couple handfuls of kale
1 pear, quartered
1 apple, quartered
slice of ginger
squeeze of lime juice
handful of ice
100ml water

method
1. Put all ingredients into your blender and blend till smooth. If too thick add more water. Serve.


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MUSHROOM POLENTA WITH KALE AND BEANS

MUSHROOM POLENTA WITH KALE AND BEANS

Yesterday I stumbled upon couple of lectures by Dr Tim Riesenberger, a physician who happens to be a Seventh-Day Adventist. He reminded of an article I remember reading few years back in National Geographic magazine in a dentist surgery. The article was about the so called Blue Zones. These are demographic/geographic areas where people live measurably longer lives. These places are the islands of Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

People living in blue zones not only have a higher chance of reaching 90 (and many 100) but they do so in better health than rest of the world. Their long, healthy and happy life is not only about what they eat, but diet is an important part of the blue zone success. The diet is mainly (apart from the Sardinians) low fat plant based with meat and processed foods largely off the menu. They also tend not to smoke, they drink alcohol in moderation, keep active, stay positive, are an active part of community and put family above all. These are easy to reach goals in everybody’s live. Go and create your own blue zone too.

polentakale

MUSHROOM POLENTA WITH KALE AND BEANS
The polenta can be made ahead and kept in the fridge.

ingredients
Mushroom polenta
1/2oz (15g) dried porcini
200 g mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
10 sage leaves, thinly shredded
250g (1 and 1/2cup) quick cook polenta
1l (4 cups) vegetable stock (make it form the soaking mushroom liquid and vegetable stock)

Beans and kale
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
250 (1 cup) ml veg stock
1 tin of canellini beans, drained
150g (1/3lb) kale de-stalked and torn into pieces

method
  1. First soak the porcini mushrooms in boiling water for about 20 minutes. Remove the mushrooms, reserve the liquid, and chop the mushrooms up.
  2. In a medium frying pan heat about 60ml (1/4cup) of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Add the mushrooms and garlic, cook till the mushrooms soften about 5min. Add the porcini mushrooms cook for further 2 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable/mushroom stock to a boil. Slowly add the polenta and sage, keep stirring. When the polenta thickens, turn down the heat and let bubble for couple of minutes. Stir in the mushrooms.
  4. Line a baking sheet with grease proof paper, spread the polenta on top, about 1/2inch thick. Smooth the top. Let cool.
  5. In a large sauce pan heat 60 ml (1/4cup) water (or stock) and cook the onions and garlic, gently simmer till softened. Add the vegetable stock and beans, bring to a gentle boil.
  6. Add the kale, cover and simmer for 10-15min or until the kale is tender.
  7. Season with plenty of pepper.
  8. While the kale is cooking, preheat the grill (broiler).
  9. Cut the polenta into triangles, place on top of grease proof paper lined baking sheet. Place under the grill and grill for about 2 min on each side.
  10. Serve the kale and beans with the polenta triangles.

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KALE, APPLE AND PECAN SALAD


On Tuesday my Riverford delivery man, together with my veg and fruit boxes, unloaded the extra 4 bags of kale I ordered. As I found out I was not the only “kale freak” that week, another customer ordered 8 bags of the curly green. We discussed my plans to freeze some, and how to make kale chips that he vowed to try. Starting the kale revolution right at the source!

True to my plan I put two bags in the freezer. I steam them first for 3 minutes and quickly cool down in iced water, straight into freezer bags and quickly into the freezer. These will be great when the kale season draws to an end.

I do like kale in many ways and recently I fell in love with eating it raw. Massaging kale was a very new concept to me, but as soon as I saw it on Food Network’s Arti Party I felt inspired. Kale deserves a bit of a spa treatment and it surely benefits a great deal from it. Massaging it tenderises the leaves, leaving them much more palatable. Actually it did bring back memories of eating wild sorrel when I was a child, kale massaged with lemon juice has a very similar taste.

kale-and-pecan

KALE, APPLE AND PECAN SALAD

  1. The honey pecans are fabulous, you can also use maple syrup to make these. I was a bit worried none would be left for the salad as they kept disappearing ...
  2. I actually like this salad made with just lemon (hence the wild sorrel association), but you can use a small amount of olive oil to soften the flavour.
  3. The beauty of this salad is that it keeps unlike tender salad leaves dressed with lemon (or vinegar), you can keep it in a fridge for couple of days.

Serves 2 (nice hearty portion)

ingredients

200g (about 1/2pound of kale)
juice of 1 small lemon
1/2-1 Tbs olive oil (optional)
pinch of coarse salt
1 medium apple, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
20 pecans
1 tsp honey

method
Strip the kale of the tough stalks.Wash and dry in a salad spinner. Shred into strips.
In a large bowl combine the kale, lemon juice, salt and olive oil if using.
Now get your hands in, massage the kale between your fingers for about 2-3 minutes. It will collapse to less than half of its original volume.
Add the onion and apple and toss together.
Let sit for about 20min, the onion will soften beautifully in the dressing.
Now make the pecans, heat a small heavy bottom frying pan, add the pecans, toss them around for 1 minute. Add the honey (maple syrup) and gently caramelise together. This will take about 2 minutes. Take care not to burn the pecans! Tip them onto greaseproof paper and let cool. They will be glossy and gorgeous.
When pecans are cool add them to your salad and toss together. Enjoy.
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Kale chips

Another convert to kale chips. My sister-in-law sent me a text today with this simple exclamation: “Hooray for kale crisps”. Call them chips or crisps they are a fabulous snack that everybody seems to like. In our house they are the most kids friendly way to eat the mighty kale. Also this is the perfect recipe for kids to help with.

So what is all the fuss about? Kale is the queen of all veggies, the most nutrient dense one out there, full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and even protein. Eat it raw, steamed, in soups, stews, in juices and smoothies and of course as chips.

kale-whole

When making kale crisps, I find a proper bunch of kale (preferably organic) is better than the shredded supermarket variety. You can still use supermarket kale for chips, however they tend to shred it into strips with the stalks left in. And these are tough, inedible. Removing them is rather time consuming. Bunched kale gives you the opportunity to remove the stalk and leave the kale in larger pieces.

The chips keep really well in an airtight container just make sure the container is perfectly dry.

Basic kale chips

Roughly 120g of kale is enough for 1 baking tray. If using method number 1, cooking kale chips at higher temperature, start checking them after about 5 min, I remove the ones that are done and put back in the oven and check again in 2 min. My oven has heat spots so I don’t ever get all the chips perfectly cooked at one time. Also smaller pieces will obviously cook first.The lower heat method takes longer of course, but you are less likely to burn them.


kale ready for oven:

kale-on-tray
makes one baking tray of chips:

ingredients

120g(about 4 oz) kale, stripped away from stalks, torn into roughly same size pieces
1/2Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

method:

1 Preheat the oven ( see step 4 and 5). Wash the kale pieces and spin them dry in a salad spinner.
2 Place the kale into a bowl large enough to hold all the kale. Add the oil and salt. Mix well.
3 Line a baking tray with grease proof paper. Place the kale on the baking sheet in a single layer.
4 Method 1: Bake in 180C oven for about 10 min. Start checking after 5 min. Take out any pieces that are done, they should have no moisture in them and will be crisp all over, not burnt. Place the rest back into the oven and check every 2 min.
5 Method 2: Bake in 150C oven for about 25min. Again check after 10min, and keep checking in 5 min intervals.

Salt and vinegar kale chips

Prepare as above just add 1 Tbs of apple cider or white wine vinegar at the same time as olive oil and salt.

Chips ready to eat:


kale-chips
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