Everyday Kale Salad

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Summer is in full swing and it has left me running in circles (in a good way). I blame training for a triathlon and beautiful weather that begs for outdoor social engagements. I’ve been a little behind on my posts (and laundry, and email, and cleaning…) but I’m getting back on schedule. Because it’s been hard to keep to my usual routine, I’ve been leaning toward easy to prep meals that can keep for a while in the fridge, so that the last minute dinner with the girls doesn’t through of my meal plan for the week. Insert this kale salad. As I’ve said before, kale is my favorite leafy green for many reasons. Today’s reason is it’s heartiness, which allows you to keep kale longer than other salad greens. No more slimy mixed greens for you!

Before I jump into the recipe, I need to highlight one thing: the key here is massaging the kale. Yes, it sounds weird, but it makes a huge difference!

Everyday Kale Salad

Yield: 4 servings. Per Serving (without mix-ins): $0.53, 71 calories, 4g fat, 23g carbs, 2g protein.

Wash 1 bunch of kale (about 1 pound), remove stems, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Whisk together your favorites of the following ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil – I highly suggest olive oil as your base for any dressing, but you could use vegetable oil if necessary.
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar or acid – I like apple cider or red wine vinegars, but you could also use balsamic or rice wine vinegar, or even lemon or lime juice.
  • 1 teaspoon syrup – honey is my go-to, but maple syrup or agave nectar works.
  • 1 teaspoon salt – go kosher or go home!

Massage the kale with your hands much like you would knead dough, until it turns a dark green. Toss in the dressing and let marinate in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Add your favorite salad mixings (pictured here – tomatoes, red onion, fresh corn, and Israeli couscous) and enjoy!

Udon Noodle Soup

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For my birthday a few months ago, I went out to dinner with my sister, brother, and his girlfriend to our favorite restaurant in Boston – Symphony Sushi (or “Symph Sush”, as we call it). While I was waiting for them to arrive (I’m always early, they’re generally late) I noticed a couple girls sitting next to me eating an enormous bowl of soup. It was full of bright colored vegetables, plump udon noodles, and came with a side of veggie tempura that they were dipping in the broth. Although I typically eat sushi and only sushi at Symph, it was my birthday so I decided to branch out. I scoured the menu to see if I could find the soup from the table next door and try it for myself.

Found it, ordered it, and fell in love. I couldn’t believe I had been going to Symph Sush for years and never tried this amazing soup. I ordered it once a week for three weeks after that meal because I couldn’t get enough. Then, of course, I decided to recreate it.

You all seem to enjoy my take-out inspired recipes, so here’s another! This udon noodle soup can be made with all sorts of vegetables. Here I stuck with just greens, but you could add radishes, carrots, baby corn – whatever you like. I really wanted to make this with baby bok choy (and will next time) but the selection in the grocery store was wilted and the kale was a great substitute.

Warning: Udon noodles are not that healthy, but they are delicious! The dark green veggies in this soup definitely counteract the carb heavy udon noodles. For a lighter version, replace the udon with soba or rice noodles. You can also add any type of protein or tempura to this to up the calories and make it a more substantial meal – chicken, beef, or shrimp would be great.

Udon Noodle Soup

Drain 1 package extra firm tofu on paper towels. In a large pot, sauté 2 medium sliced zucchini in ½ tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. After 2 minutes, add 3 cups kale, stems removed and ripped into 2 inch pieces. Cook until the kale turns bright green, then add 1 cup green onions, diced into 1 inch pieces. Grate 2 cloves garlic into the pot and sauté for 5 more minutes.

Add 4 cups vegetable broth and 2 cups water to the pot. When warm (about 5 minutes) add 1 ½ teaspoons lemongrass paste, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon sriracha. Bring to a low boil and adjust seasonings to taste. Add 3 ounces extra firm tofu, diced into ½ inch pieces.

Prepare 2 servings of udon noodles according to package directions (microwave, if possible). Serve warm, allowing udon noodles to sit in the soup for a few minutes before eating.

Yield: 3 servings. Per Serving: $2.73, 235 calories, 5g fat, 45g carbs, 8g protein.

Loving Leftovers: Spring Rolls & Veggie Bowl

If you don’t plan ahead, cooking can take a lot of time out of your life. Although I love to cook, I only do it a few times a week. If I had all the time in the world, I would love to cook a meal from scratch every night – but that’s just not realistic between work, going to the gym, and having a decent social life. Instead, I plan ahead to make 2 or 3 different dishes in bulk and eat leftovers throughout the week.

The leftovers approach is fine by me – I have no aversion to leftovers and find it the easiest way to cook for myself without spending all of my free time in the kitchen. But I recognize that leftovers aren’t for everyone. Sometimes I can get a little bored of eating the same thing over and over.

My best advice is to reinvent your leftovers. Here I’ve prepared two dishes with almost all of the same ingredients except a few (very easy) additions. First, I made spring rolls with farro, tofu, vegetables and a peanut-mustard dipping sauce. Using a fried egg, I reinvented the dish into a veggie grain bowl using the filling from the spring rolls. You could take it a step further by adding a different protein, a new veggie, or your favorite grain to the bowl. This approach will save you a lot of time in the kitchen while also keeping your meals exciting every day.

Read more about my approach to leftovers in this post from September. How do you keep your leftovers fresh and exciting? Leave a comment with some inspiration for me and other readers!

What you need for both recipes:

  • 1 cup cooked farro
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts chopped and sautéed with ½ tablespoon soy sauce until wilted (I used the leftover Brussels sprouts centers from this recipe)
  • 1 head red cabbage, chopped and sautéed with 1 clove minced garlic and ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Farro & Tofu Spring Rolls with Peanut Mustard Dipping Sauce

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Drain a ½ block of extra firm tofu between paper towels for 20 minutes (best results if you put something heavy on top, like a large saucepan, to press the tofu). Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients above (you’ll use only half for this recipe, the rest for the grain bowl). Slice the tofu into ½ inch slices and season with salt and pepper. Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Cook tofu in pan for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Set on a paper towel to cool and cut into 1 inch strips.

Moisten 1 spring roll wrapper according to package directions. Lay on a wet paper towel on top of a cutting board. In the center of the wrapper, place the farro, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, tofu, and cilantro (about 1/3 cup total). Roll according to package directions. Repeat to make a total of 6 spring rolls.

Prepare the dipping sauce by whisking ½ tablespoon peanut oil, ½ tablespoon soy sauce, and ½ tablespoon whole grain mustard in a bowl. Store these in the fridge wrapped individually in plastic wrap (otherwise the wrappers will stick together and tear).

Yield: 3 servings. Serving size: 2 rolls. Per Serving: $2.88, 343 calories, 11g fat, 68g carbs, 16g protein.

 

Veggie Grain Bowl

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Top the leftover farro and veggies from the spring rolls with a sunny side up egg. Garnish with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

 

Yield: 2 servings. Per Serving: $3.01, 339 calories, 7.5g fat, 83g carbs, 18g protein.

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprout Chips

It’s starting to feel a lot like spring in Boston – finally! We’ve had about 3 days above 40 degrees in the past 5, and the extra hour of sunlight really helps. Even though we’re expecting some snow tomorrow, I’m feeling hopeful that spring is on its way. My trip to Houston last week was unseasonably cold (35 degrees and raining) so I’m seriously craving some sun!

As much as I’m looking forward to spring and summer weather, I’m even more excited for spring and summer food. Everything is lighter and fresher. I recently signed up for a farm share (more on that in another post) and I can’t wait for it to start! I still have three long months until I pick up my first box.

In a past post I shared my love for kale chips – a perfect use for kale in the summer when it’s in abundance. I’m hoping my farm share will have lot’s kale so I’ll have no excuse not to make kale chips every day. This recipe – Maple Mustard Brussels Sprout Chips – is a winter twist on kale chips and is getting me ready for the warmer weather and fresher food!

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In this recipe I used Green Mountain Mustard’s Golden Grain mustard. As a born and raised Vermonter, I can’t resist Vermont-made products (or anything maple-flavored). This mustard is made from all real ingredients (you can pronounce everything listed on the label!) and is made from scratch in Richmond, Vermont. It’s great in this recipe because the whole grains stick to the Brussels sprouts, adding even more flavor.

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GMM has a variety of very interesting concoctions, like Clove Encounter (garlic and oregano mustard), Sweet Sombrero (jalapeno mustard), and Deli Dirt (everything bagel mustard). I added their Atomic Rooster Mustard (made with their own sriracha sauce) to my latest batch of grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches. The sriracha isn’t too spicy, but definitely packs some heat. You can tell it’s fresh from the pieces of red pepper in the mustard.

Like kale chips, these are best served right away. If you find a way to keep them fresh overnight, let me know!

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove and discard the outer leaves of ½ pound Brussels sprouts by cutting off the ends and peeling back the leaves. Continue to peel off the leaves, putting aside in a large bowl. Stop when the leaves become intertwined, making them hard to remove. Save the centers of the Brussels sprouts in a plastic bag in the fridge for use at a later time. They’re great to add to pasta or to use as a substitute for cabbage.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon Green Mountain Golden Grain maple wholegrain mustard, and 1 teaspoon maple syrup (the real stuff!). Whisk until smooth and poor over Brussels sprout leaves. Using your hand, toss the leaves in the sauce until it is evenly distributed.

Lay the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove leaves that are crispy, and continue roasting the remaining leaves, checking every 3-5 minutes and removing the crisp ones. You want to remove them before they become completely brown. Best if served immediately.

Yield: 2 servings. Per Serving: $1.18, 110 calories, 8g fat, 9.5g carbs, 2g protein.

Disclaimer: Green Mountain Mustard provided two complimentary jars of mustard as inspiration for this post. All recipes and opinions are my own.

Cooking (un)Inspiration

My menu of meals has been pretty blah lately. Today for lunch I had a tuna sandwich with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes on the side. Healthy, yes – creative, no. I can’t even claim that I “cooked” it – I just opened the can and cut up some veggies!

Needless to say, my cooking creativity has been pretty low for the past few weeks. The winter weather is getting to me and it seems all I want to do is order in and catch up on my DVR. This is the time of year where I usually rely on a stockpile of frozen soups and pre-made breakfast sandwiches, but my supplies are low. Instead, I’ve found myself drawn towards easy to prep meals and quick to grab snacks. Luckily there was a sale on Odwalla granola bars at the grocery store this week and they’re getting me through the week.

I started to break through the my creativity block with this meal I concocted after getting home late last night: sweet potatoes and chopped asparagus sautéed in olive oil with an egg cooked over the top. YUM. It was created from ingredients in my fridge leftover from other meals. As I recently learned from this TED Talk (Phil Hansen: Embrace the Shake), sometimes it takes a little bit of restriction to get the creativity juices flowing again. The need to create something with the few items left in my fridge created a creativity challenge.

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I hope to get out of this rut and have new recipes to share next week. Any advice? What do you do when you’re in a creativity rut? I’m off to Houston, Texas for work next week and hoping the change of scenery (and weather) will speed up my creative process!

Mexican Baked Eggs

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When you find a good recipe, you do everything you can with it. That’s what happened with my Baked Eggs with Kale and Sausage from a few weeks ago. Before I had even finished the first batch I was already thinking of new variations to try! This Mexican version is another great brunch recipe – I can’t wait for the next version!

Mexican Baked Eggs

Lightly toast 6 slices bread. I laid them out on a baking pan and put them in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, flipping once. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and arrange the bread on the bottom, slightly overlapping. Top each with 2 tablespoons refried beans.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sauté ½ cup diced onion in 1 teaspoon olive oil. When the onions are translucent, add ½ green bell pepper diced and 1 diced medium tomato.

Put the onion, tomato, and pepper mixture over the bread in an even layer. Crack 1 egg on each slice of bread (6 eggs total) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You may need to arrange the vegetables to make a little spot for the egg to fit, so it doesn’t slide off into the casserole dish. Pour 1/3 cup milk over everything to keep it moist, and sprinkle with ¼ cup cheddar cheese.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes, longer or shorter depending on how you like your eggs. Top with fresh diced avocado and enjoy!

Yield: 6 servings. Per Serving: $1.45, 273 calories, 12g fat, 29g carbs, 14g protein.

Quinoa & Roasted Peaches Cereal

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My roommate recently brought home a challenge: recreate a delicious quinoa breakfast cereal she had for brunch at a local restaurant. This is one of my favorite things to do – make something that inspired you at a restaurant (often healthier and cheaper). It gets you super engaged in your food as you try to figure out the ingredients and make it just as good as (if not better than) the restaurant. I’m not sure I could do this any healthier (what’s healthier than quinoa and fruit for breakfast?!) but it was probably cheaper – Rachel, am I right?

As this recipe proves, quinoa is not just for lunch or dinner – it can be treated very similarly to oatmeal. It has a nutty flavor which pairs well with fruit. Preferably I would use fresh peaches, but they are out of season right now so I had to resort to canned. Just make sure to get peaches canned in juice, not syrup (i.e., sugar). Next time you have something new and tasty at a restaurant try to recreate it at home – and let me know how it goes!

Quinoa & Roasted Peaches Cereal

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain 1 can of peach halves, reserving the juice. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange peach halves in a single layer. Roast in oven for 40 minutes, flipping half way through cooking time. When done, let cool slightly and dice.

Prepare 1 cup of quinoa using 1 cup water, 1 cup milk, and ¼ cup peach juice. When the quinoa is cooked through, add 1 diced apple, another ¼ cup peach juice, and diced peaches. Cook for another 2 minutes until the apples are warm. Top with ½ cup chopped walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Yield: 6 servings. Serving size: ½ cup. Per Serving: $1.16, 230 calories, 8g fat, 39g carbs, 7g protein