Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 4 (of the school year) and Exploring New Frontiers In Food

Kale. Homemade Almond Milk. Mmmmm......kinda.

I decided to try Dr. Junger's recipe for homemade almond milk. It was super easy to make and I was really proud of myself until I tasted it. Something was off. It occurred to me a little late that the clean dish towel I used to strain the almond pulp had been washed with regular laundry detergent and dried with a dryer sheet. Yuck! It totally tasted like chemicals. So...I dumped that batch out and am now on the hunt for some actual cheese cloth and a fine strainer like he recommends. I didn't have those on hand and have heard that a clean dish towel works just as well -- I'm sure it does, but only if it's been cleaned without using dryer sheets! Also, in the couple of sips I took, I found the milk to be a bit thin, so next time I'd like to try reducing the water to nut ratio (as I found elsewhere online) to make it a bit creamier.

Kale! Kale was a scary vegetable to me for some reason. I love vegetables, but for whatever reason, I found myself dreading trying kale. I've avoided it for years! But this past weekend we found our way to Whole Foods and I decided it was time to take the kale plunge.

As soon as we got home I called my sister to ask her how she prepared kale and she said the only way she's used it so far is for smoothies. Okay...that's one idea! So I cleaned the kale as I would clean Romaine lettuce leaves and I set it aside to dry. As I cleaned it, I was struck by how beautiful it was. The leaves are brilliantly dark green and they are very firm. It' just gorgeous.

I tore off a bite size piece and gave it a shot -- VERY BITTER -- not so sure it's gonna work in a smoothie! So I got right to work looking up recipes for kale. I figured, if I'm going to give this stuff a fair shot, I better find a delicious way to serve it! The very first recipe I found was the winner: Heidi Swanson's, of 101 Cookbooks, Raw Tuscan Kale Salad Recipe (inspired by Melissa Clark's cookbook, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite).

Wow! Did this salad ever sound delicious!! But unfortunately, her recipe called for using bread crumbs and cheese, 2 items that are currently eliminated from my diet. Bummer.

I decided to use her recipe anyway, modified for my current needs now, and I've saved her version to use when I'm able to reintroduce those other foods. (Yum!)

I am so glad I came across her recipe -- it turns out that kale is awesome when paired with the right flavors. I made her *modified* salad and ate it with the leftover Roasted Cilantro Chicken piled on top. It was AMAZING. I made so much noise enjoying myself!

Since that first dish I've eaten kale salad every day, really only varying the dressings (always with vinegar or lemon and either olive oil or sesame oil).

I even got Eddie to eat kale! For real!!! Here's what I said on facebook, "I got Eddie to eat kale, broccolli, carrots, celery, and onions tonight! I kid you not. I think I saw a pig fly by the window! I made a stir fry, added some fresh garlic, soy sauce and chicken...put it all in a wrap. He ate it all and came back for seconds!! Progress folks, this is definitely progress!!!"

I am so proud of him. So proud of both of us! We're definitely moving in the right direction. :)

I've included the recipes I used below (and the original salad recipe as well). Enjoy!

Modified Raw Tuscan Kale Salad 9/4/11
I modified the recipe below (which sounds AMAZING) because right now I’m not eating bread or cheese. I also went heavy on the garlic b/c it’s so good for you (heard today it’s the best for preventing cancer). Here’s what I did (it was very good!):

1 bunch Lacinato Kale
1/3 of an English cucumber
2 medium size celery stalks
Several baby carrots
¼ red onion
3 or 4 cloves of garlic (depending on the size, more or less)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch (I just measured it in the palm of my hand)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
Cayenne pepper (approximately 1/8 tsp, just put how much looked good)
Black pepper to taste

Trim the bottom few inches off the kale stems and discard. Slice the kale into 3/4-inch ribbons. Place the kale in a large bowl. Chop cucumber, celery and carrots and add to the kale. Dice red onion and add to the veggie bowl.
Mince the garlic into a small bowl, add the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, used a spoon to smoosh it into a paste. Add 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the kale & other veggies and toss very well (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves). Let the salad sit for 15 minutes, then serve.

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad, 101 Cookbooks

I doubled up on the breadcrumbs here. Because who doesn't like a bit of extra crunch? That is reflected in the recipe below. And for those of you without access to pecorino, freshly grated Parmesan would be a reasonable substitute.

1 bunch Tuscan kale (for ex: black or lacinato)
2 thin slices country bread, or two handfuls good, homemade coarse breadcrumbs
1/2 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1/4 cup (or small handful) grated pecorino cheese, plus adiitional for garnish
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish
Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon (scant 1/4 cup or ~50ml)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Trim the bottom few inches off the kale stems and discard. Slice the kale into 3/4-inch ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place the kale in a large bowl.

If using the bread, toast it until golden brown on both sides and dry throughout. Tear into small pieces and pulse in a food processor until the mixture forms coarse crumbs, or crumbs to your liking.
Using a mortar and pestle or a knife, pound or mince the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a paste. Transfer the garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss very well (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves).. Let the salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with the bread crumbs, additional cheese, and a drizzle of oil.

Adapted from the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Chiles and Pecorino recipe in Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.
Prep time: 10 min - Cook time: 5 min

Basic Nut Milk (makes 4 cups)
1 cup of nuts, soaked for 3 hours in purified water
1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
1 to 2 tsp agave syrup or brown rice syrup
3 cups purified water

1. Drain the nuts, discarding the water.
2. Place in blender with vanilla powder extract, sweetener, and 3 cups purified water.
3. Blend for about 3 minutes.
4. Strain through fine strainer or cheesecloth.
5. Store in refrigerator; lasts for 2 days.
*Agave syrup, also called agave nectar, is made from cactus. It is still a sugar (fructose), so use it sparingly.

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