Kale Caesar Salad & Raw Chocolate Pudding

Hello! I’m so honored to be the first guest-poster on Cook Like Kayla. As Kayla’s former work twin (no joke- our colleagues would get us confused) it seems fitting that I would be subbing in for her today. I’ve enjoyed watching this blog grow and I’m excited to be sharing with you today my two new favorite comfort foods turned healthy recipes.

As a background note, these recipes came from a place of pure desperation- crawling into my apartment after a long day in the hospital and wanting nothing more than to just stuff my face full of goodies and collapse into bed.  What’s amazing about these recipes is that they not only fill that comfort food craving but are also incredibly healthy and take only about 15 minutes to blend up in your Vitamix or blender. Say hello to your new long day pick me up.

Kale Caesar Salad

If you have any kale skeptics in your life, try this recipe on them. I guarantee they’ll change their minds.

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Place 1 garlic clove, 3/4 cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and 2-4 anchovies (optional) into your Vitamix or other high-powered blender. Blend until fully emulsified, about 30 to 45 seconds.

Pour dressing over 1 head of kale, center stalks removed and sliced crosswise into fine ribbons. (Lacinato, also known as dinosaur kale, works best but any type of kale will do. Sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and 1/2 preserved lemon (optional) on top of the salad and toss to combine. Enjoy!

Raw Chocolate Pudding

I know, avocado and pudding don’t sound like they should even be in the same sentence. Trust me, the avocado gives the pudding its texture, not its taste. Plus, what’s better than healthy chocolate pudding?!  Not too much.

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Place 1 avocado (seed and skin removed), 1 ripe banana4 tablespoons dark cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons liquid sweetener (agave, honey, brown rice syrup, etc.), 1/4 cup coconut flakes, 1/2 cup water1 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract into your Vitamix or blender. Blend to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Add more water as needed for consistency.

Chill until cold (or approximately the amount of time it takes you to eat your salad, if you’re me). If you’re really feeling ambitious, garnish with fresh berries.

Enjoy!

-Aka

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.

Baked Eggs with Kale and Sausage

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We have a runner up for the most beautiful plate of food I’ve ever photographed (in first place, surf and turf from my summer vacation on Cape Cod).

I had the pleasure of entertaining a few of my lovely lady friends for brunch this past Sunday. I had a few recipes I wanted to try and needed a taste testers, plus I love being in the company of these girls! You can’t have a bad meal with great company, so all in all it was a brunch success. In addition to this baked egg casserole (which was a hit) we had an oven baked pancake (recipe coming soon), Bloody Mary’s, and delicious cupcakes-disguised-as-muffins for dessert.

Adapted from a recipe from the Food Network, this is an elegant meal you could eat for brunch or dinner. I can’t wait to make and share some variations!

Baked Eggs with Sausage and Kale

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.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sauté ½ cup diced onion in 1 teaspoon olive oil. When the onions are translucent, add 1 cup sliced mushrooms and sauté until brown. Add 2 cups baby kale and sauté until wilted. Meanwhile, brown 2 hot Italian sausage links, cases removed, in a small sauté pan. You could put the sausage in with the onions mixture, but I kept them separate so I could make a few eggs without sausage for my girlfriends.

Put the kale mixture and sausage 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 kale and sausage 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 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes, longer or shorter depending on how you like your eggs. I baked mine for 20 minutes and the yolks were medium/hard. I love runny yolks so I’ll take them out sooner next time!

Yield: 6 servings. Per Serving: $1.20, 236 calories, 11g fat, 21g carbs, 15g protein.

Thanksgiving Round-Up

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I feel a little guilty for not posting more Thanksgiving-themed recipes this week. Thanksgiving is like the Olympics of food events and I feel like I’m not doing it justice! I had every intention of sharing something new for your Thanksgiving feast. Last week, I attempted to make pomegranate-glazed Brussels sprouts but failed. It was a good idea in concept, but the finished product was a strange brownish reddish green color and tasted pretty sour. It wasn’t pretty.

To make up for my lack turkey-inspired recipes, here are a few past recipes that would be perfect additions to your Thanksgiving dinner. Have a happy turkey day!

Thanksgiving Round-Up

  • Sriracha Kale Chips: Crisp up a head of kale while the turkey is in the oven. These are a great snack to have on hand while everyone is hanging (or helping) out before dinner.
  • Butternut Squash Soup: Try soup instead of mashed butternut squash – this would be a perfect appetizer before the main Thanksgiving meal.
  • Oven-Fried Tomatoes: Not a traditional side dish for Thanksgiving, but sure to be a welcome addition to the table.
  • Simple Apple Pie: A classic turkey day dessert – make sure to save some room!

Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna Rolls

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Anything served in a pan (brownies, casserole, and, in this instance, lasagna) comes with risk of overeating. You start by cutting yourself a reasonably sized piece and enjoy every last cheesy, saucy bite… and just want one more taste. So you go back to the pan and cut yourself a tiny little sliver more just so you can have one more bite. And then you have one more tiny little piece, and another, and another… and by the end you’ve had three times as much as you first put on your plate. It’s inevitable.

To save yourself from over-indulging, try this creative take on lasagna; rather than layering everything in the pan, the lasagna noodles are rolled up with the filling inside. For this reason, you need to use traditional lasagna noodles rather than the ready-to-bake version. It’s a little messier to prepare, but much easier to serve (and control) – just portion out 2 rolls per person.

This is a perfect recipe for entertaining. Not only will it impress your friends, it’s easy to prepare in advance.  Assemble the rolls but instead of baking, pop them in the fridge. 45 minutes before dinner – while your guests are enjoying wine and apps – throw the lasagna in the oven. You can also prepare this recipe up to a month in advance and freeze it, defrosting it in the fridge the night before you’re expecting guests.

Serve with a fresh side salad, sautéed asparagus, or all alone. If you end up with too much filling and not enough noodles, whip up some eggs for a high-end scramble!

Butternut Squash, Kale and Turkey Lasagna Rolls

Cook 6 lasagna noodles according to package directions. When done, lay the noodles on greased cookie sheets so that they are not touching to avoid sticking together.

Steam 2 ½ cups of diced butternut squash until soft, about 10 minutes, and set aside. Steam 4 cups of kale until dark green, about 15 minutes. Sauté ½ cup diced onions in ½ tablespoon olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ½ pound ground turkey and saute until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mash squash and mix with ½ cup ricotta cheese and 1 egg until smooth.  Roughly chop kale.  Spray two bread pans with cooking spray.  Spread ricotta-squash mixture onto cooked lasagne rolls, top with kale, and then ground turkey-onion mixture.  Roll along the short side and place in pan with the open end down.  Repeat with remaining noodles, placing three rolls in each pan.  Top each bread pan with 6 tablespoons tomato sauce and ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese, divided between the two pans.

Cover with tin foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, remove tin foil and bake for another 10 minutes. If preparing from frozen, defrost the lasagna in the fridge overnight before baking.

Yield: 3 servings. Serving size: 2 rolls. Per Serving: $3.39, 506 calories, 15g fat, 77g carbs, 32g protein.

Sriracha Kale Chips

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I’m the type of person who orders the same thing at a restaurant every time. Trying new things scares me a little. This is something I’m working on – even though I know the chef salad at Henrietta’s is delicious, one of these days I’m going to have to try the quiche of the day.

It’s a little easier to try new things when the new things you try are delicious. This was the case with the two main ingredients in this recipe: kale and sriracha. For a long time after kale and sriracha became mainstream ingredients I had still not taken the jump. It’s almost like I was resisting because they were too cliché. But now we’re here.

This recipe brings the traditional kale chip up a notch. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to store kale chips properly so that they stay crispy. If you know the secret – please share. Luckily, these are so delicious it’s not hard to eat the whole batch!

Sriracha Kale Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the stems from 4 large kale leaves and tear into 1 inch pieces (about 2 cups). Toss with ½ tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon sriracha. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the kale on the pan in a single layer. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Bake in over for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for 5 more minutes. Keep a close eye on the kale! These chips burn very easily – you want them crispy but not burned.

Yield: 2 servings. Serving size: ½ cup. Per Serving: $0.27, 49 calories, 4g fat, 11g carbs, 1g protein.