Go Green with Kale

One of my New Year’s resolutions (although, as you know, I don’t really make them) is to add more diversity to my diet.  I tend to eat the way I do for two reasons: one, I like the taste of a particular food item; or two, it is nutritious.  I’ve never been one to worry if there are too many calories or too much fat.  That being said, I am a creature of habit when it comes to including vegetables in my diet.  Although I do consume the suggested amount of veggies from Canada’s Food Guide, I do tend to eat a lot of the same ones.

Broccoli is always number one in my books.  I eat it every day (along with my ice cream although not at the same time).  Not only do I love the taste of broccoli (served with my roasted garlic hummus), it is one of the most nutritional veggies around.

Kale

photo by Farmanac, from Flickr

My new, fairly frequent addition to my vegetable repertoire is kale.  Kale is a form of cabbage and is high in beta carotene, vit K, lutein, not bad fibre for a green vegetable and reasonable in the calcium department.  It has been credited with lowering cholesterol and possessing a whole host of anti-cancer properties.  Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and has more flavour when it has been frozen.

I wanted to share a couple of recipes with you from a cookbook entitled Cooking Vegetarian (healthy, delicious and easy vegetarian cuisine) by Joseph Forest and Vesanto Melina.

Here are two of my favourite kale recipes:

AFRICAN CHICKPEA STEW

Makes 6 cups enough for 4 servings.

1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups peeled, diced sweet potatoes or yams
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup brown rice
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup peanut butter
2 cups thinly sliced kale
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp black pepper
Tamari
Hot chili pepper sauce

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes more.  Add stock, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, rice, and salt; bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until rice is cooked.  In a small bowl, blend peanut butter with enough liquid from the stew to make a smooth paste.  Stir this paste into the stew along with kale, lemon juice, pepper, tamari and chili pepper sauce to taste and cook for another 5 minutes.   Adjust the seasonings.

This nutrition-packed stew has a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate.

One of the reasons I enjoy this cookbook is the mix and match approach the authors take to putting together a meal.  Under the entrees section of the book, the authors have a section called International Roll-Ups where they provide recipes for six possible fillings based on various cultures.  This recipe includes many of the same ingredients of the first recipe.  The nice thing about this recipe, is that you can make the sauce (keeps for a couple of weeks) separately and your family can add the sauce and other items as they like.  I often poach chicken and add to recipe (did I just say that?) for the boys in the family.

Here’s the recipe for African Style Roll-Ups

1/3 cup cooked brown rice
1/3 cup mashed yam
1/3 cup sliced kale, lightly steamed
¼ cup alfalfa sprouts (yeah new ingredient)
2 tbsp spicy peanut sauce (recipe below)
Dash of hot pepper sauce

Spicy Peanut Sauce

½ cup unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter
½ cup coconut milk
¼ cup chopped ginger
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chili paste
2 gloves garlic

Put all ingredients in food processor or blender for one minute.  Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks

Give these recipes a try and let me know what you think!  Think green!

Laurie

Slow Easy!

owl crockpot

image by daftgirly, from Flickr

Are you grateful for your slow cooker?

I was out walking in the woods with a friend a week or so ago and began discussing the topic of gratitude.  Somehow we ended up talking about slow cookers.  Aeron is often out at the barn prior to dinner and finds it very convenient to start dinner before she and her daughter Emily leave for the barn.  A warm dinner is ready to eat when they return.  Aeron says that she finds it easier to eat well balanced meals when she is using her slow cooker.  She will be sharing her best slow cooker recipes with us shortly.

Do you remember having a slow cooker or crock-pot in your home when you were growing up?  The modern day slow cooker was developed by a company called Rival Industries using the trademark name Crock-Pot. The Crock-Pot was designed in the early 1970s based on the design of a bean pot called the Beanery.

With the emphasis on conserving energy, slow cookers became popular during the energy crisis.  The slow cookers were also a good choice for the record number of women who re-entered the workforce or began to pursue interests outside the home.

The motto for the Crock-Pot was “cooks all day while the cook’s away.”

I personally do not use my slow cooker to prepare my evening meals on a regular basis.  I do however use it frequently to prepare hot cereals overnight.  Here are two of my favourites:

This first recipe is based on a porridge recipe in The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook.

Crock-Pot Porridge

½ cup cracked wheat or bulgur 
1 ½ cup steel-cut oats

½ cup rye flakes

½ cup brown rice

¼ cup wheat germ7 ½ cups water or combination of liquids (rice milk, soya milk, almond milk)

4 ½ tsp vanilla

It is possible to add any dried fruit or nuts to this recipe.  I serve mine with ice cream!

Preparation:

Place all ingredients in a large crock-pot.  Stir well to combine all ingredients.  Cover.  Set on lowest cooking temperature and cook overnight.

The second recipe is not really a recipe per se.  This one is taken from Cooking Vegetarian.

Hearty Whole-Grain Cereal

Makes 4 cups

1 cup uncooked grain (such as amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, kamut berries, millet, oat groats, spelt berries, wheat berries or wild rice)

4 cups water

Put grains in slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours until the water has been absorbed.

Try the recipe first with 2 or 3 grains.  Later, you can experiment and create your own!  Both recipes can be served cold as a pudding (again especially delicious with ice cream) or refrigerated and reheated as needed.

Do you have a favourite slow cooker recipe or website that you would like to share?  Let us know!

Laurie