Monday, August 22, 2011

Creamed Kale

I used to eat the same thing for breakfast every day: A big bowl of Amaranth Porridge. But lately I have been mixing it up, and often find that I crave protein (egg!) in the morning. I also have noticed that I feel energized when I get my green fix in before noon. For a long time I would make a Green Smoothie with spirulina, banana, flax, ginger, almond milk and a handful of kale. But with my new found love for a poached (or fried) egg, as well as my overflow of Red Russian Kale from the garden, I have created a new breakfast of champions involving "creamed" kale, egg and somedays even a slice of multi-grain bread. Yum. 

Kale falls into the cruciferous vegetable category, which are touted for their numerous health benefits. Extremely high in vitamins K, A and C, as well as manganese, fiber and iron, it is a nutrition powerhouse. Lately, kale has been most prized for it's anti-cancer properties due to to its incredible antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory abilities. Although it can be consumed raw, its nutrients are easier to digest and assimilate if lightly steamed or blanched, as in the recipe below. I love it for it's chlorophyll rich leaves, that seem to give me an extra lift whenever I need it most. 

The wild card in this recipe might be the umeboshi plum paste for most of you. Don't worry, it is completely optional. However, if you are feeling adventurous, spring for a jar at your local health food store and I guarantee it will last you a good year at least. Umeboshi plums are a traditional Japanese ingredient used to strengthen and boost the immune system while detoxify the body with their extreme alkalinity. Try adding a teaspoon of this tangy condiment to your next batch of hummus, salad dressing or veggie burger dough. 

This dish can be made days in advance and stored in the fridge for an easy weekday breakfast. Oil a cast-iron pan lightly with some coconut oil, add a few spoonfuls of creamed kale, crack your egg on the side and you are in business. Doesn't get much heartier than that (in the lightest way possible). 

Creamed Kale

1 large bunch kale
1 tbs. red miso
1 tsp. umeboshi plum paste (optional)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup soymilk
1-2 garlic cloves
a pinch nutmeg

Remove stems and blanch kale in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse, and squeeze dry.  Transfer to food processor or high powered blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until well pureed. Wonderful served with eggs and toast.

Relax. Eat Well.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maple Seed Brittle

Ok I have to admit, the recipe I am about to dish out is not pictured above. The last time I made this brittle, I created two versions, one loaded with nuts as well as seeds, and the other solely seeded (tree nut free). The results were not what I would have predicted: I enjoyed the seed-centric version so much more!  Of course, it is not the one I photographed, but oh well, I am sure you are all imaginative folk.

This brittle is a wonderful breakfast, snack or dessert really. Healthy enough to span the day, yet sweet enough to satisfy any craving. I love the orange zest and cinnamon combination, slightly reminiscent of aromas you might encounter walking in a Moroccan market. Or so I would imagine. The trick is to roll it out extra thin for a crispy toasty finish.

Seeds are one of those under appreciated pantry (or freezer, really) staples that offer a myriad of health benefits. High in monounsaturated fats, they promote healthy hair and skin, good cholesterol and reduce inflammation. I particularly enjoy the pumpkin seeds in this recipe, which are great sources of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a relaxant helping to combat hypertension as well as muscle cramps. The sesame seeds are another winner in my book, high in both calcium and iron. But my favorite thing about seeds? They are cheap (sorry, economical)! Compared to nuts, organic seeds can be half the price tag. Not a bad deal.

Maple Seed Brittle
Serves 16

To make the nutted version, replace the pumpkin seeds with almonds, half the sesame seeds with cashews and throw in a few pecans if desired.

2 cups raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds, partially ground
2 tsp. cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup maple syrup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Taste, and add more maple syrup if necessary.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and empty seed mixture on top, spreading evenly. If necessary, split mixture in half and use a second parchment lined baking sheet to avoid cramping. With another parchment paper on top, roll mixture thin using a heavy rolling pin. The thinner the better, without creating gaps. Remove top parchment.

Bake brittle for 10 minutes, check, rotate pan and continue baking for another 10-20 minutes, until edges are crispy and middle is beginning to brown. Pay close attention to avoid burning. Remove, let cool and break into pieces.

Relax. Eat Well. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Whipped Walnut Dream

I am a pretty die-hard fan of cashew cream, but this walnut cream makes me reconsider my loyalty. It was one of those dishes I made for the CSK, stuck the leftovers in the fridge and didn't give much thought to after that. Until I picked a thousand blueberries and scooped a dallop on top for dessert one night.... and then proceeded to gobble down the rest of the jar with nothing but a spoon. Spectacular. 

I believe it is the silken tofu that ends up imparting a very "whipped cream" texture: light, fluffy and a bit airy. Rich but not heavy, earthy and nutty, I can see this working on most pies or cobblers. I originally made it as a dip for dehydrated bananas, but next time might freeze it a tad and re-whip it in the food processor as an ice cream alternative of sorts.

Walnuts are one of the richest vegetarian sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat we must source from our diet (our body is not able to produce it itself). Additionally, they are high in Vitamin E and fiber, as well as monounsaturated fat. This type of fat helps us feel full and satisfied without the inflammatory effects that more damaging saturated and trans fats can wreak. 

Whipped Walnut Dream
Serves 12

1 carton silken tofu
1 cup raw walnuts, soaked overnight
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup honey
pinch of salt
¼ cup water, plus more as needed

Drain and rinse walnuts. In a large food processor (or better yet, very powerful blender) blend all ingredients until creamy, adding additional water as needed to reach a “whipped cream” consistency.

Relax. Eat Well.