Today marks the first day of March! kale yeah! That feels like spring is upon us and after being in the north this entire winter, spring sounds so inviting. I miss the early and long lasting blooms in Atlanta, for sure. Also in March is National Nutrition Month! This year, the theme is Go Further with Food. The concept leans in to the idea that whatever foods you choose can have a positive impact on your life. Whether you’re fueling for a sport, the day, or managing a condition, food plays a vital role. Duh. 😉
So while the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has various promotions around the theme, I’m going to continue on with my No Recipe Recipes because I find them to be incredibly helpful for quick and easy weekday meals and I hope you do too. Foods are nourishing, but often times I find it’s a matter of collaborating with foods that work for our lives and usually that revolves around making cooking, shopping, preparation simpler. Hence, this series 🙂
This week we’re talking about one of my favorite vegetables, kale. Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there. Take a look at what’s in only a cup of raw kale:
- Vitamin A (beta-carotene):206% of the RDA (beta-carotene can be converted to Vitamin A by the body)
- Vitamin K:684% of the RDA (important for blood clotting by “activating” proteins and giving them the ability to bind calcium)
- Vitamin C:134% of the RDA (more than an orange!)
- Manganese:26% of the RDA (helps with blood sugar levels and managing PMS symptoms)
- Calcium:9% of the RDA (SO many functions in the body)
- Copper:10% of the RDA (mostly works with iron to form red blood cells)
- Potassium:9% of the RDA (significant role in electrolyte balance and metabolic functions)
- Magnesium:6% of the RDA (most people don’t get enough magnesium)
Aside from the micronutrients we can measure, kale is one of the most studied vegetables and it has evidence to support its cardio protective, anti-oxidant, immune supporting, blood pressure lowering, and anti-depressant benefits.
The good news is that unlike some fruits and vegetables, kale is super easy to add into your diet. It stirs well into soups and stews, blends easily in smoothies, and crunches when eaten raw. Kale and spinach are my two go-to vegetables so choosing no recipe recipes, or guides to help you include more kale in your diet was actually sort of tough only because there are SO many options out there. Bon appetit!
Kale, Apple, Grain Salad
The trick to eating kale raw in a salad is to let the dressing marinate and get all hugged and rubbed up against the greens for at least 15 minutes. I avoided raw kale for a long time before I learned that all I had to do was let it sit and wait patiently (cue lesson in life!). This salad can be dressed up or down and tailored to your preferences but the homemade dressing is really my favorite part and uses ingredients you likely have on hand but without all the junk of store bought dressings. This recipe works great with any leftover grain or roasted winter squash/potatoes (so get creative!) but brown rice or quinoa tend to be what I have most often. If you don’t have leftover grains/winter squash/potatoes, prepare that first according to package or your liking. In the meantime, destem a bunch of kale and chop/tear into small bite sized pieces (or buy chopped kale 😉 ). Chop an apple of choice and set aside. Also set aside toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans), and sprinkling of dried cranberries or dried apples with chopped apple. Note: the salad still tastes amazing without a bunch of toppings too. However, I tend to top salads with more nuts/seeds (hemp seeds, chia seeds) or beans/tofu/tempeh if eating salad as a main meal but goat or feta cheese work well here as well as chicken/shrimp. You do you! For the dressing, mix the juice of one lemon, a tiny dash of Dijon mustard (or other mustard), a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, and a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Pour dressing over greens and give it a good shake or rub until well coated. Let it sit for 15 minutes up to a few hours and top with rest of goodness (chopped apple, grain/starch, nuts, and optional cheese). This will make a large serving for a few people – so plan accordingly. Also, if you are letting the kale and dressing get close and cozy for a few hours, chop the apple right before serving. Again, this recipe is a template and accommodates other mix-ins or substitutions well. I’m curious to see your creativity!
Coconut Creamed Kale with Rice
This meal is SO easy and SO full of flavor that it reminds me of getting Indian or Thai takeout but without the bill or sodium bomb. It’s easily adaptable to flavor preferences (more or less ginger/garlic/onion) and relies on wholesome goodness. Don’t skip out on the coconut milk – and go for the full fat variations for a rich divine meal. … Heat a medium sized pot over medium-low heat. Add ¼ onion, chopped and dab of olive oil – cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Stir in one to three teaspoons minced fresh ginger and cook for another minute. Next, add 1 cup brown rice and few dashes of turmeric powder, toast for one more minute. Tumeric powder will turn your rice a deep rich warm yellow color and is packed with antioxidants, but if it’s not a spice you use regularly, it will take you forever to use it up and will stain anything white/light colored. So, use if you have turmeric – great. However, don’t go out and buy some for this recipe if you don’t. …OK, after adding the rice and optional turmeric, measure 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth and bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 35 to 40 minutes, until the majority of liquid has been absorbed. Note – if you are using quick cooking brown rice, it will only be 15 – 20 minutes, so check out what the package says to avoid burnage. Also, depending on type of rice, you may need more liquid (basically look at package). Once most of water is absorbed, remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes to deepen the flavors. While the rice is cooking, destem and cut one large bunch of kale into bite sized pieces. Let me know if you aren’t sure how to destem and cut kale easily (or google it). Or buy chopped kale. 😉 The kale doesn’t take long, so towards the end of the rice being ready, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, wide pot (kale takes up a lot of space but cooks down A TON). Add in 3 – 4 cloves of garlic (minced) and cook for about a minute. Add the chopped kale and stir to coat with the garlic. Add in 1/2 cup vegetable broth, cover, and let kale cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in one can of coconut milk and continue to cook greens until tender, roughly 3 to 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve greens over a large scoop of rice and top with toasted cashews or almonds and unsweetened toasted coconut flakes. You could use another type of protein to round out the meal if you’d like – garbanzo beans, tempeh, tofu are all wonderful in this concoction!
Kale Stir Fry with Crispy Curried Tempeh
This is another go-to midweek meal for us because stir-fries take very little time to cook and are a great way to add in a ton of vegetables I’m trying to use up!…Mix one tablespoon soy sauce/liquid aminos and curry powder to create paste and then coat one block of tempeh that has been cut into 1 inch cubes (or smaller depending on preference). Set aside while you prepare the veggies and noodles. For the noodles, boil a medium to large sauce pan with water. Once boiling, add regular or whole wheat spaghetti noodles and follow package directions and adjust to how many people you’re cooking for. Slice one to three large carrots (finely). Destem a bunch of kale and chop/tear into bite sized pieces. Mince two – three cloves of garlic and mince a one inch piece of ginger. Chop any other veggies you want to use up. If you’re adding a lot of veggies, add more ginger/garlic and a dab or a few dabs of soy sauce once cooking. Lightly oil a wok or large skillet and heat on medium high. Once warmed, add prepared temped and cook for a couple minutes until golden brown. Add the ginger, garlic and cook for one minute before adding the kale and carrot. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Once kale begins to wilt and deepen in color, add two tablespoons soy sauce/liquid aminos and a dash of water if additional liquid is needed. Cook until kale and carrots are softened to your liking and serve stir fry over cooked/drained noodles. You may need more soy sauce or crushed red pepper flakes at time of serving. Enjoy!
There you have it folks, this week’s no recipe recipes. Basically, serving you up easy to make dishes that hardly require a recipe they are so freaking easy. Your taste buds will NOT be disappointed this week. Which one(s) are you most likely to try? Or most looking forward to trying?? And of course, let me know when you “Kaled it!” haha 😉