our messy table

Category: Kale

a good fight

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After completing a family weekend trip with a toddler and infant this last weekend, my sister told me that she was never going to get married or have kids.

I had to laugh at her honesty. Because I can only imagine what my college-aged sister and high school-aged brother think of my married/child-rearing older brother and myself.

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We had spent two nights in a hotel and were all pretty much at the mercy of the little one’s sleep/eating schedules, which is the norm for my husband, brother, sister-in-law and me. But from where the two bright-eyed youngsters stood, the view of 4 arguing, sleepless young parents probably looked nothing short of miserable.

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I had to laugh because I forget about the perspective of my two youngest siblings. Their oldest sister: cursing her helpless husband for everything from our son’s mismatched clothes to the weather… as I fidget with guilt and strain to make every simple decision.

And I have to love them for it, because I forget.  Meaning, they don’t even let me know how crazy I look because I guess they love me anyway.

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My youngest siblings never avoided the extra responsibility of playing puzzles with my son as I got dressed or look for a room key. If anything, they held the baby, swam in the freezing pool with the water-crazed toddler, and made me very proud to be their older sister.

My message to them: It’s the good fight, young ones. And it is all worth it, regardless of how it looks on the outside, or from the depths of a freezing cold hotel pool.

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Thanks to my mother and father for treating us this weekend, and my mother and father-in-law for watching our naughty dog. We had a very very blessed and memorable Easter weekend (to say the least). And to you readers, I wish you all the same.

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 Deb’s Kale Salad with Apple, Cranberry and Pecans

Adapted slightly from Cookie and Kate

Yield 4 servings

Salad

  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecan halves
  • 8 ounces curly green kale
  • 4 to 5 medium radishes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 medium granny smith apple
  • 4 ounces goat cheese

Dressing

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  1. Pull the kale leaves off from the tough stems and discard the stems. Use a chef’s knife to chop the kale into small, bite-sized pieces. Transfer the kale to a big salad bowl. Sprinkle a small pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by lightly scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant.
  2. Thinly slice the radishes. Add them to the bowl.
  3. Coarsely chop the pecans and cranberries and add them to the bowl. Chop the apple into small, bite-sized pieces and add it to the bowl as well. Crumble the goat cheese over the top.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss until the salad is evenly coated with dressing. Serve immediately, or for even better flavor, let the salad marinate in the dressing for 10 to 20 minutes beforehand.

with salad

 

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Though buying them in bulk is so much cheaper, I have had my qualms with dried beans. Don’t get me wrong. Grocery shopping feels like a small victory when I slide up the bulk handle and watch hundreds of marbley beans fall into my bag for only a few dollars. But I have learned the hard way that sometimes, when dried beans have been loafing in those bins for too long, the seed membrane can become extremely hard and never, ever soften. Therefore, the battle of crock pot vs. old bean has an unfortunate and predictable end (I’ll give you a hint… crunchy bean chili… crunchy bean tacos… crunchy bean non-paste).

Also, there is all the buzz about soaking your beans… whether or not soaking away the small amount of the phytates and tannins is worth also soaking away the… eerm..  flatulence-related substances.

Whatever, people. Black beans have their value either way. They have an ever-amazing protein-plus-fiber content that helps regulate the digestive process and blood sugar. Black beans also contain an impressive amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients which reduce the risk of certain cancers, particularly colon cancer.

Most often, I buy them canned because, as stated before, I have learned to not trust those bean bulk bins. I often wait until I see someone re-filling them , or if I can find a processing date that is fairly recent… like the last six months. But usually, canned beans and I are friends.

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Carrots. I recently learned (from Martha Stewart Living’s May addition, thank you) that Carotenoids, the antioxidant that gives this root vegetable its orange pigment may protect against heart disease, cataracts, and certain cancers. It’s a good thing, too. Because carrots are one of the few veggies I can confidently feed my son without have to guise with cheese.

We have all heard that brown rice is better for us than white… that white rice is just naked brown nice, almost fully stripped of its nutrition. By removing the hull (the outer most layer of the grain), you are also removing almost all of the Vitamin B, Vitamin B1, and Vitamin B6. You also lose half the manganese, phosphorus, iron, dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.

I mean, in my house, we still like white rice. We like our Arborio rice made into creamy risotto, a bed of long-grain white rice for grilled meat and vegetables, and Jasmin rice, fluffed with coconut and served with walnuts or cashews. It is hard to beat the easy and fluffy texture of well-prepared white rice. Regardless, with the help of black beans and carrots, the heft and heartiness of brown rice certainly has a place to nutritionally shine in this salad.

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This salad is a really nice one to have around for a quick pick-me-up snack, a filling on-the-road meal, or those its-late-and-I-don’t-want-to-think-about-dinner nights. I have enjoyed it under a fried egg, wrapped in a warm whole wheat tortilla, and cold, straight from the fidget. I think my son likes how tangy the dressing is because he rolls his finger around the bottom of the bowl to collect every drop. I also like how just a little of this salad fills me up for a long, long time.

You could probably substitute the rice for another grain, like farro, amaranth, or quinoa (or, you know, white rice;)). You could also swap the kale for another dark, leafy green or even chopped cabbage. All salads are adaptable! Let me know how your salad adventure goes!

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Black Bean and Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Carrots

Yield: 2-3 servings

  • 1 15 oz. can  black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (approximately ½ cup uncooked)
  • 5-6 medium carrots
  • ½ Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ Tablespoon maple syrup
  • Good pinch sea salt
  • ½ small yellow onion
  • ½ large handfuls baby kale
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

Dressing

  • 1 ½ Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 glug (eye-ball a teaspoon) maple syrup
  • Good pinch sea salt
  • Good pinch ground paprika

Cook brown rice and allow to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and remove tops from carrots, but leave the skin on.  Slice them however you like so long as the pieces are the same size so that they can cook evenly. Toss carrots with cumin, olive oil, maple syrup and salt. Lay out on a baking sheet and roast until carrots are fragrant and soft, about 20 minutes.

While carrots roast, prepare the rest of the salad. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside. Fold the cooled cooked brown rice and black beans with kale and onion. When carrots are cool, add them as well.

In a dry skillet, roast pumpkin seeds over medium-high heat until they pop. Allow them to cook before adding them to the salad.

Drizzle dressing over salad. Enjoy.