Posts tagged ‘Kale’

Italian Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Spaghetti squash is a great option for people who want pasta without gluten or lots of carbohydrates. It readily absorbs flavors from sauce, herbs, and spices, so it blends very well with other ingredients. It is also easy to prepare; please see my Spaghetti Squash post for roasting directions. Spaghetti squash provides a lovely splash of color to any noodle dish, unlike bland beige wheat noodles.

Italian Sausage Spaghetti Squash Casserole 1A

This recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare spaghetti squash. It is so colorful and flavorful, and it is easy to create various color and flavor combinations with different veggies. Additionally, you can use any protein you prefer, like veggie sausage, ground meat, cubed chicken, soy or hemp tofu, pine nuts, etc. You can also always dress your spaghetti squash with pasta sauces, too.

Keep in mind you are going to need a very large bowl to mix all of the components. It has been a while since, I used this recipe, so I quickly ran out of room as I added ingredients. I spit the recipe into two stages, mixing the squash, sausage, dried herbs, and cheese in one large Corning Ware dish and the fresh herbs and remaining vegetables in another. I used a third smaller bowl to help transfer half of the contents one bowl into the other, so I could incorporate all the ingredients together into each bowl and keep the right proportions. As a side note, even though I added the Daiya cheese to the sausage and squash while they were hot, it did not melt properly. Daiya’s shreds require higher temperatures to melt than dairy cheese, so I suggest reheating the casserole before it is served.

Italian Sausage Spaghetti Squash Casserole 2A

Italian Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Yields 14 to 16 servings

Ingredients
1 Med Spaghetti Squash, roasted, skin removed
1 T Dried Ground Sage
1 T Dried Oregano
2-3 T Fresh Thyme
1 Bunch or 3 C Spinach or Kale, torn into bite-size pieces
1 Bunch or 1/2 C Fresh Sweet Basil, chopped
Olive or Grape Seed Oil for cooking
3/4 – 1 lbs Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
3/4 – 1 lbs Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage
1 10-oz pkg Daiya Mozzarella-Style Shreds
1 Medium Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
3 T Fresh or Bottled Minced Garlic
1 lb String Beans, cut into 1″ lengths
3 Med Yellow or Orange Heirloom Tomatoes, chopped
4 oz Pea Spouts with long shoots, separated
Ground Peppercorns, to taste
Sea Salt, to taste

Directions
Be careful not to burn your fingers while handling the squash. In a large bowl, break up the squash into noodles with a fork. Mix the herbs and greens into the squash. Set aside to allow the dried herbs to absorb moisture from the noodles and the greens to wilt a bit.

Oil a large pan. If the sausage came in casings, remove them. Brown the sausage over medium heat. Mix the sausage and cheese-style shreds into the squash.

Saute the onion, garlic, and beans together in a large oiled pan. Add to the squash with the salt, pepper,  tomatoes, and sprouts. Serve and enjoy!

Kale Saag

Velvety Kale Saag

I love saag and palak dishes, especially since they are so nutritious. They are so tasty, and I love the texture and spices. Palak is made with spinach, whereas saag is made with dark winter greens in general, like kale, collards or mustard greens, which are all very rich in fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamins A and C. You can mix pretty much any kind of protein into the greens, like homemade cheese (like paneer), chicken, lamb, fish, chickpeas, lentils, tofu or nuts (like cashews). Alternatively, you can use the saag as a kind of sauce and pour it over hearty vegetables, like carrots, broccoli or cauliflower; grains , such as rice, barley or buckwheat; or grain-like seeds, like quinoa, millet or amaranth.

Winter Greens

Kale Saag
Adapted from Ambika’s Saag Paneer.
This recipe is vegan.

Yields 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
6 – 7 C Kale with stems, trimmed
1 Medium – Large Sweet Yellow Onion, peeled, skinned
3 T Minced Garlic
1″ Ginger Root, peeled
1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric
Pinch Sea Salt
1 1/2 C Filtered Water
4 T Almond Meal
1 1/2 T Dried Fenugreek Leaves
1 tsp Smoked Spanish Hot Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1 T Sambar Curry Powder
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/4 C Carrot Greens with stems, trimmed
1/4 C Cilantro Leaves with stems, trimmed*
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 T Coriander Seeds
1 1/2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/2 T Grains of Paradise
16 – 24 oz Choice Protein, prepared

Kale

Directions
Chop the kale, onion and ginger in a Vitamix (high speed blender) or food processor. Set aside.

Soak the almond meal, fenugreek leaves, paprika, garam masala, curry powder, nutmeg in 1 cup of water for 15 to 20 minutes. Blend them in the Vitamix with the carrot tops and cilantro.

Toast the seeds over medium heat for 30 seconds in a dry pan, stirring constantly. At this point, I recommend grinding the seeds until fine in a spice grinder.

Saute the garlic over low heat for about a minute. Add the onions, kale, ginger, ground seeds, turmeric and salt and saute for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Mix in half a cup of water. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the spiced almonds, greens and herbs. Cover and stir occasionally for next 10 to 15 minutes. Stir and adjust the consistency by adding more water if necessary.

If you want a more velvety texture, puree half of the saag in the Vitamix until smooth and stir it back into the chunkier spiced greens. At this point, mix in your desired source of protein. Serve and enjoy.

Creamy Kale Saag

Optional Ingredients and Directions
You can chop a medium to large seeded heirloom yellow or orange tomato (about 1 cup) to cook with the other vegetables and fresh herbs.

To make the dish more creamy, mix 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, almond cream or cultured coconut or almond milk (like the “yogurts” by Almond Dream, Amande or So Delicious) with the cilantro, fenugreek, almonds and spices.

*if you are using dried cilantro leaves, measure 3 tablespoons, soak them with the spiced almond-fenugreek mixture.

Kale Saag and Eggs

Red-Label Curry no Ohji-Sama

I finally made S & B’s red box of Curry no Ohji-sama with chicken and mixed vegetables. It tasted so good! This variety is a Japanese sweet curry roux mix that was originally intended for children, but I don’t see why adults shouldn’t enjoy it, too. S & B also makes a blue-box version of this curry, too, which has a different flavor (from what I can tell based on the listed ingredients). What exactly the blue-labelled box mix is supposed to taste like is still a mystery to me, but it looks good. For more information, please read the sections I wrote on both varieties here  or here.

Thankfully, both flavors are gluten-free, as they include corn starch and white sorghum as thickeners in lieu of wheat. The directions call for the addition of meat, but you can substitute it with beans, tofu, nuts, seeds or whatever protein you prefer. The package instructions also call for potatoes and carrots (two sources of carbohydrates), which I felt were not inclusive enough. I didn’t just want to use a boring brown or yellow potatoes and a red onion (the sweet yellow and white cultivars carry less sulfur), and I decided not to serve the curry with rice but to add more colorful vegetables instead. I felt as though that the more colors I included, the healthier and tastier the meal would be, so my curry was a rainbow of yellows, orange, purple, red, whites and greens.

Each box comes with two curry roux blocks, enough to either make the curry twice or cook a double batch. The bricks are sealed individually, so you can cook one and save the other for later, preserving the flavor and moisture and preventing spoilage. As soon as I pealed back the wrapper on the roux, I knew I was in for a treat from the pleasant aromas and yellow curry color of the savory spices and slight sweetness of fruits and vegetables. I could already smell the wonderfully enticing scents of cumin, coriander and turmeric, and for some reason my mind went to cinnamon as a complimentary flavor. Maybe next time I should make a cinnamon infused dessert.

Cooking the Chicken & Vegetables

As usual, I made many of alterations to the recipe, but the dish turned out quite scrumptious, much to my delight and satisfaction. My husband liked it so much, he went back for seconds. He’s a pretty picky eater, so that’s certainly saying something. Please keep in mind that this is a sweet mild curry, so you may have to adjust the flavors to more of your liking; check out Sadie’s blog entry on the blue-box curry roux for some suggestions. Surprisingly with all of the extra meat and vegetables, the curry sauce was still rather thin in consistency. I used the same cooking techniques as described in the directions and decided not to add a thickener (like corn or arrowroot starch) on the first try, since the mix already contained some. Another option is to let some of the water evaporate rather than cooking the meat and vegetables so long with the cover on. Regardless of the outcome, the meal was a success and a learning experience.

Red-Label Curry no Ohji-Sama with Chicken & Mixed Vegetables
Adapted from the instructions on the back of the package
As stated above, this dish already includes enough carbohydrates, so do not serve this with a white rice. If you want to serve it along side or over something, I suggest something with fiber, for instance more vegetables (broccoli or cauliflower) or a seed-like “grain” (quinoa, millet or buckwheat) as a side.

Serves 6Curry no Ohji-Sama With Chicken & Vegetables

Ingredients
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Medium Yellow Sweet Onion, peeled, trimmed, coarsely chopped
1 Head Garlic, peeled, trimmed, coarsely chopped
2 Medium Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
2 Medium Carrots, trimmed, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
2 Purple Potatoes (any variety), coarsely chopped
1 – 2 Chioggia or Red Beets, trimmed, coarsely chopped
2 Stalks Celery, diagonally sliced into 1/2″ pieces
1 Broccoli Head and Stem, trimmed, coarsely chopped
2 C Baby or Dinosaur Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
2 C Carrot Greens, stemmed, optional
1/4 – 1/2 C Enoki Mushrooms, trimmed, left long or quartered
2 1/2 C Filtered Water
1/2 pkg Red Label Curry no Ohji-Sama Roux, finely chopped
Rice Wine Vinegar, optional
Sweet Paprika, to taste, optional

Directions
Saute the onions and garlic until the onions are soft and translucent in a large lightly oiled pan over medium heat (I used my Misto to spray on the olive oil). Mix in the carrots, beets and potatoes, stirring occasionally. Cook this mixture until the carrots are slightly soft.  Add the water, broccoli and celery. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the mixture for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables become tender. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the kale, greens and mushrooms. Fold in the curry roux, half at a time. Cover and return the pan to the heat. Simmer the curry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the roux is evenly distributed. Taste the dish, add more paprika (and or other spices) to taste. Serve the curry either on top of an accompanying vegetable in bowl. Be sure to ladle on some extra sauce if you like.

I served this dish along side a tossed green side salad drizzled with a tasty miso sesame dressing.

Cooking the Chicken & Vegetables

Patty Pan Squash

Petit pan (patty pan) squash

Patty pan squash, also called scallop squash and patisson, are cute little white, light yellow or green round squat variety of scallop summer squash that kind of remind me of flowers, since the edges look like petals. Here are a few methods of preparing the squash. You can also bake them after scooping out the centers and stuffing them, like in this recipe or this one. These squash are really healthy for you. They are low in calories, and high in fiber and vitamin C and have lots of folate, vitamins B6 and A, magnesium and potassium. I also read that patty pans are great for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as preventing certain cancers. Just like with many foods, make sure you don’t indulge in patty pans too often, since they contain a significant amount of oxalates, which can accumulate in you body and interfere with calcium absorption. For additional  information about scallop squash and their health benefits, please visit Live Strong’s webpage.

When I got home from the Cotati farmers market recently, I started planning what to make with all of my new veggies. I set some things aside for salads or other particular dishes, but there were some I wanted to cook with right away. The recipe that I listed below is a guide of sorts; you don’t have to use all of the spices if you don’t want to. I just created the dish as I went along, making rough measurements by sight and taste. If you are afraid of cooking without specific amounts, start by smelling and tasting the seasonings together to figure out scrumptious combinations; choose which spices and herbs you think will work best for what you are aiming to create. Just start in small increments. Sometimes I like to put a little bit of spices and herbs in mini prep bowls or the spice containers’ lids, carefully tapping or sprinkling in a bit at a time.

Mixed Late Summer Vegetable Saute with Seeds
Serves 4

Ingredients
5 T Chopped or Minced Garlic
1 Sweet Yellow Onion, coarsely chopped
4 Patty Pan Squash, trimmed, cut into bite-size pieces
4 Purple Potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 C Collard Greens, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
1 C Russian Red or Green Curly Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
1 Bunch Carrot Greens, coarsely chopped, optional
1 Large Carrot, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Large Stalks Celery, diagonally sliced
1 Head Broccoli, coarsely chopped
1 – 2 C Green String Beans, trimmed, broken into bite-size pieces
1 Scallion, green parts only, cut into 2″ lengths
Cumin Seeds, ground
Himalayan Sea Salt, ground
OR Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt, optional
Smoked Hickory Flavoring (infused barley flour)
Fresh or Dried Thyme, stemmed, ground
Fresh or Dried Sage, stemmed, ground
Fresh or Dried Marjoram, stemmed, ground
Mixed Peppercorns, ground
1 C Filtered Water, as needed
Italian Seasoning, optional
Herbs de Provence Seasoning, optional
Poultry Seasoning, optional
Raw Hemp Seeds, sprouted, dehydrated
Raw Pumpkin Seeds, sprouted, dehydrated
Raw Sunflower Seeds, sprouted, dehydrated

Directions
In a large lightly oiled pan, saute the onions and garlic over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the onions become translucent (or caramelized, depending on your flavor preference), add the tubers; cook until the carrots become slightly tender. Add in the water to steam the vegetables.* Lower the temperature to a simmer. Mix in the squash, broccoli, beans, celery and spices. Cook with the cover on until the broccoli stems start to soften. Add the fresh herbs and greens, stirring occasionally. Cook until the carrots and broccoli stems are tender and the greens have wilted. Remove the pan from the heat completely. Transfer the seasoned vegetables to a large bowl. Stir the them together with a large spoon to cool and get rid of excess water (keep an eye on the general moisture to prevent the vegetables from drying out too much) until the vegetables are cool enough to pick up with your fingers. Fold in the seeds. Serve and enjoy.

*If you are using dried herbs, they need to be rehydrated. Let them sit in a cup of water for 20 minutes; this also infuses flavor into the water. Use this water to steam the vegetables by carefully straining it out into the pan, using a fork to prevent the herbs from going in to early. Add the rehydrated herbs when you mix in the fresh ones.

Vegetable Pesto Pizza


With my plans to make cornbread, I knew I would have a bunch of the gluten-free baking mix left. I also had a bunch of vegetables left over from a ham and vegetable medley my brother and I made. I had been talking to him about making pizza for dinner one night, which is a rare treat for me. It was difficult to choose a pesto sauce. I have so many good recipes, but I chose a vegan Italian pesto sauce. Although the original plan was to also put Italian chicken sausage on the top, we forgot about prepping it sprinkle on top, so we just had some sausages on the side, saving the rest of them for making the tamale pie later.

I have never worked with a pizza stone before but have seen one of my friends use one before. I had heard they are really great to have and rather convenient, as well. The flat stone helps cook the crust evenly by distributing heat.

Vegetable Pizza with Pesto Sauce Adapted from Flaky GF Pie Crust, Rose’s GF Curry Pizza and Garlic Herb Pizza Crust
Serves 12

Crust Ingredients
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 C Gluten-Free Biscuit Mix
8 T Filtered Water
OR Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 – 3 Large Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp Crushed Dried Thyme
1/4 tsp Crushed Dried Basil
1/3 C Earth Balance Spread with Olive Oil
Cornstarch or Rice Flour

Directions
Lightly oil the pizza stone. Dab off the excess with a paper towel. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the biscuit mix and spread with a fork or pastry cutter. Gradually mix the water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough sticks together. Work in the dried herbs and garlic. Form the dough into a ball.

Cover your flat work surface with cling wrap. Flour the plastic wrap and a rolling pin with either cornstarch or rice flour. Roll out the dough from the center into roughly a 12-inch circle with a uniform to 1/4 to 1/2-inch thickness. Add more starch to the top of the dough and rolling pin as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking to the pin and tearing the dough. If your dough tears, reconnect the torn edges and smooth them together with your fingers. Place the baking stone, oiled side down, on top of the dough. Invert them together, making sure the dough doesn’t slip off, so the dough now rests on top of the stone. Reshape the dough if necessary so the dough does not hang over the edge of the stone.

Topping Ingredients*
1 – 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp Cumin Seeds, fresh ground
2 tsp Garlic Sea Salt
1/4 – 1/3 C Vegan Italian Pesto Sauce
1/2 Large Red or Orange Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, sliced
1/2 Large Bunch Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
3 Scallions, trimmed, sliced
1/2 – 1 C Golden Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
3.8 oz Can Lindsay Naturals Sliced Black Olives
1/2 – 1 C Mushrooms, stemmed, sliced or chopped
1/2 – 1 C Broccoli Florets, chopped
2 – 4 oz Daiya Mozzarella Cheese

*The amount of veggies you want to use as pizza toppings is really up to you. It all depends on how messy you want your pizza to be.

Directions
Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Oil the top of the dough evenly with the flat of your hand until the dough feels smooth and does not not crumb apart. Spread on the sauce. Sprinkle on the cumin and garlic salt across the surface. Layer on your vegetable toppings. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake your pizza for 25 minutes or until the crust cooks through and the edges turn brown and crispy. Let the pizza rest 5 to 10 minutes. Cut the pizza into 12 pieces with a sharp-edged pie cutter, pizza cutter or large chopping knife. Serve with a side vegetable or green salad. Enjoy!

Shrimp & Vegetable Nabe with Shichimi Togarashi

With the donabe, I also wanted to give Mom a hot pot cookbook as a gift for Christmas last year, so she could learn about authentic ingredients and cooking methods, as well as gain some inspiration for cooking different dishes. When Anise and I went to Japantown, the bookstore was closed, so I looked at the local new and used bookstores in Petaluma and Santa Rosa. Nothing.

I also poked around online looking for hot pot recipes and found Harris Salat’s Japanese food blog, which has entries featuring some of the recipes (or similar ones) from the book that he and Tadashi Ono wrote, called Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals. It’s the best donabe and hot pot cookbook I found; it has lots of inspiring, colorful pictures and descriptions of the recipes and ingredients that will make you hungry. I highly recommend this book as a wonderful resource.

Shrimp & Vegetable Nabe with Wild Rice and Shichimi Togarashi
Adapted from “‘Strawberry’ Hot Pot” or
“Ichigo Nabe” from Japanese Hot Pots
by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat
Serves 8 to 10

Whole Grain Gohan Ingredients
Adapted from “Japanese Rice for Shime” from Japanese Hot Pots

Ingredients
2 + 1 C Filtered Water
1 tsp San-J Gluten-Free Tamari Soy Sauce
OR Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/2 C Brown Rice, uncooked
1/2 C Wild Rice, uncooked

Directions
In the donabe, bring the 2 cups of water and tamari to a boil. Stir in the rice. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot, and cook the rice for 40 minutes. Check the water level, and add about a cup of water as needed. Return the lid. Cook the rice for 20 more minutes or until tender. Drain the rice, and set it aside in a large bowl.

I also used Ming Tsai’s instructional video on You Tube to make sure I knew how to cook the rice in the donabe without burning the grains to the bottom. His video is for sushi rice, which normally has to be rinsed to get rid of excess starch. I did not soak my rices, since they are a completely different variety. I also didn’t really worry about excess starch, since starch adds a slight sweetness to broths naturally when they are included. As you may have noticed I do not have a special rice cooking donabe, but my rice turned out perfect with the book’s recipe. I just added a little more water than the package directions called for, which did not adversely affect the grains, since the rice had to stay in the pot to lend to the other soup flavors.

Shrimp & Vegetable Nabe
Sauce Ingredients
4 C Filtered Water
1 tsp Ajinomoto Hon-Dashi
1/4 C San-J Gluten-Free Tamari Soy Sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/2 C Kikkoman Aji-Mirin
1 T Sake
1 Fresh Lemon, juice of

Meat & Vegetable Ingredients
1 tsp Grated Fresh Ginger
1 T Minced Garlic
1 Fresh Lemon, zest of
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 lb Large Prawns, shelled, deveined, uncooked
1 – 1/2 lb Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
5 oz Shiitake Mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
5 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
6 Stalks Celery, sliced into 1/2″ by 4″ sticks
4 Medium Carrots, sliced into 1/2″ by 4″ sticks
6 Scallions, trimmed, halved
1 – 1/2 lb Spinach, stemmed
Whole Grain Gohan (see above)
Shichimi Togarashi, optional garnish (see below)

Directions
In a medium pot, dissolve dashi in boiling water. Stir in the tamari or Bragg’s, aji-mirin, sake and lemon juice. Heat the sauce ingredients through. Set aside.

In the donabe, saute the ginger, garlic, zest, salt and prawns over medium heat until the flesh turns pink and white and is no longer translucent. Move the meat aside in the pot.

Cover the bottom of the donabe with the kale. In separate sections over the kale, arrange the shrimp, mushrooms, celery, carrots, onions, spinach and rice. Pour the sauce on top. Cover and cook the soup for 7 to 10 minutes over medium-high heat, pressing the top ingredients into the broth after 5 minutes. Turn off heat.

With an oven mitten or hot pan holder for each of your hands, transfer the hot pot to a trivet set on half of a plush towel (so that there’s also room to set the lid while serving) at the dining table. Ladle the soup into bowls, making sure to get a bit of each soup section of meat and vegetables. Garnish each bowl of soup with shichimi togarashi. Make sure you keep a hot pan holder or oven mitten at the table with the donabe in case you have to lift the lid and anyone wants a second helping of soup. When you are done serving your bowls of soup and have more room in the donabe, you can add more vegetables that you couldn’t wedge in before. As long as the lid stays on, the remaining broth and other soup ingredients will cook the newly added vegetables.

Shichimi Togarashi Inspired by “Shichimi Togarashi” in Japanese Hot Pots
This is a customizable garnish made from seeds and minced dried spices and herbs that can be sprinkled onto most anything, like furikake. Just pick ingredients to match the soup flavors. Get creative.
Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients
1/2 tsp Poppy Seeds
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp White or Black Sesame Seeds
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning Mix
1/2 tsp Lemon Pepper
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic Blend
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash Original Blend
1/2 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds, roasted

Directions
You can mix together any or all of these ingredients into a small seasonings shaker container.

Make sure you smell or taste your seeds and seasonings first before mixing them in to make sure they are not stale or rancid; if they are, throw them away. I threw away poppy seeds, sesame seeds and fennel seeds. Also when shopping for ingredients you know you may not use very often, purchase small containers of them so you don’t end up wasting money.

Pesto!

I love pesto! If a restaurant has a dish that includes pesto, I often have a difficult time resisting the urge to order it (unless the meal has lots of gluten or dairy in it, like cheesy pasta). Like curry, it’s a mixture. Although Italian basil pine nut pesto with Parmesan or Romano cheese is the most popular, there are several different varieties consisting of all kind of herb and spice combinations, however unlike curry, the flavorful mixtures are much simpler. Pesto recipes are rather adjustable, too; you can make them however you like. They can be oil-based, cream-based, oil-free and made into sauces or spreads. Most recipes either include nuts, cheese or both with leafy herbs and oil. You can put them on vegetables, bread, crackers, pasta, grains, salads, etc.

My favorite way to make pesto that’s healthier for you is with lots of soaked nuts and greens, a bit of oil and sometimes nutritional yeast. It’s easy to make. You just soak and rinse the nuts, trim the greens, add a couple more ingredients, and grind it all up in a food processor or blender. That’s it. Here’s the cashew-based basil pesto recipe I posted earlier, which also Includes carrot greens. I used to make it without carrot greens until I learned that they are so nutritious, containing lots of vitamins and minerals, like potassium and vitamin K to name a few. Carrot greens are also a good source of chlorophyll.

Here are some other pesto recipes that I’m eager to try out. You can “veganize” the recipes that have cheese by substituting with nutritional yeast or leaving out the cheese and yeast.

Cashew Basil Pesto With VeggiesVegan Pesto Recipes
Pine Nut Pesto

Kale Walnut Meyer Lemon Pesto

Kale Chickpea and Asparagus Pesto

Kale Basil Pesto with Nutritional Yeast

Broccoli Stem Pesto

Asian Pesto Sauce

Swiss Chard Pesto

Roasted Eggplant & Almond Pesto

Mixed Herb Pesto

Sage Pesto

Thai Lemongrass Pesto

Red Pepper Pesto

Sweet Pea Pesto

Spirulina Pesto with White Miso

Vegetarian Pesto Recipes (contain cheese)
Almond & Thyme Pesto

Lemon Thyme Chive Spinach Pesto

Watercress Pesto

Avocado Spinach Pesto

Garlic Scape & Sorrel Pesto

Artichoke Lemon Pesto

Three Basil Pesto

Arugula Pesto

Lemon Verbena Pesto

Roasted Shallot and Tarragon Pesto

Collard Green Olive Pesto

Dill Pesto

Carrot Pesto

Other Pesto Recipes
Coriander Pesto (contains fish sauce)

Which kind of pesto do you make? What do you eat it with?

Tamale Pie and Southwest Salad

The turkey black bean chili lasted for days. When I had about two portions left, I decided to make tamale pie; besides, I still had cornbread to make, too, in some form or another. 😉 My husband and I decided to invite friends over to join us for dinner. I kept with the idea of tamale pie but decided to make it bigger to ensure there would be enough for everyone, so I added more vegetables! Since this was so much more food, I decided make something more akin to a casserole rather than a deep-dish pie. It’s a good thing I did, too; all of the ingredients fit perfectly in my 2.5-quart baking dish. I also asked our guests to bring a salad to accompany the pie, so they decided to extend the food theme by making the salad with peppers, corn and avocado. After dinner I brought out fresh chilled cherries, which I had recently picked, for dessert. This meal was a big hit with many smiles and happy bellies.

Tamale Pie Adapted from Golden Cornbread and Tamale Pie
I recommend preparing ingredients ahead of time, so when you are ready to make the pie, you can just layer everything in the dish and pop it into the oven.
Serves 10 to 12

Crust Ingredients
1 T Chia Seed, ground or whole
3 T Filtered Water
1 + 1/2 C Unsweetened Almond Breeze or Non-Dairy Milk Alternative
1/4 Nana Mae’s Smooth Apple Sauce
1 C Gluten-Free Biscuit Mix
1 C Coarse Cornmeal
1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt, ground fine
1 T Sucanat, ground fine
1 tsp Turbinado Sugar, ground fine
2 T Earth Balance Spread with Olive Oil, melted
1/4 Fresh Cilantro Leaves, finely chopped*

Directions
Combine the chia, water, 1 cup of milk, and apple sauce with a fork in a 1-liter (or bigger) mixing bowl. Set the mixture aside for 20 minutes, stirring again after 10 and 20 minutes. Thoroughly mix together the cornmeal, baking mix, salt, and sugars in a medium mixing bowl. After the seeds are plump and saturated, stir in the Earth Balance. Don’t worry about the spread floating back up to the top. Pour the wet mixture into the dry. The two mixtures will be difficult to incorporate together and seem rather dry. Gradually stir in about half a cup (that’s only an estimate!) of additional milk into the dough one tablespoon at a time to ease stirring. (The additional liquid may be needed due to the gluten-free dough’s stickiness from the inclusion of xanthan gum in the baking mix.) Once the dough becomes easier to work with, fold in the cilantro. Cover the dough to preserve the moisture. Set aside.

*If you do only have dried cilantro, soak it in a small bowl with a cup of filtered water for 20 to 30 minutes. Mix and press the leaves into the water occasionally to make sure all of the leaves become saturated. Add extra water if needed. The cilantro is ready to use when all of the leaves are pliable and dark in color. At this point drain the excess water and treat the leaves like fresh cilantro.

Filling Ingredients
1 1/2 – 2 C Turkey Black Bean Chili
3/4 – 1 C Medium or Mild Salsa Verde
14.5 oz Can Pinto Beans, drained, tender-cooked in water
3 Medium All-Natural Mild Italian Sausage, removed from casings, browned
1 tsp Ground Cumin Seeds
1 C Golden Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/2 Large Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, chopped
1 Avocado, skinned, pitted, chopped
2 Large Tomatillos, shucked, chopped
1/2 Bunch Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
3 Large Garlic Cloves, peeled, chopped
3 Scallions, trimmed, thinly sliced
3.8 oz Can Lindsay Naturals Sliced Black Olives, drained
3 oz Daiya Vegan Mozzarella-Style Shredded Cheese
OR 3 oz Daiya Vegan Pepper Jack-Style Shredded Cheese
16 oz pkg Frozen Peas, Corn, Green Beans & Carrots, defrosted, cut into 1″ pieces

Directions
If you are preparing the ingredients ahead of time, combine the chili, a half-cup of salsa, beans with water, sausage and cumin in a sealable 6-cup storage container once the beans and meat are cool.

In a separate lidded container that holds at least 4 cups, mix the tomatoes, tomatillos, bell pepper, avocado,  kale, garlic, cheese, onions, olives, and one half-cup of salsa; I just dumped all of the veggies and cheese in, put the lid on, and gave the container a few vigorous shakes. Set this aside these mixtures aside in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. To assemble the casserole, layer the filling ingredients into the casserole dish in the following order: mixed thawed vegetables on the bottom, meat and beans in the middle, veggies and cheese mixture on top. Over the last filling layer, spread the crust evenly with a rubber spatula. Do not cover the dish. Place the baking dish on a foil-lined cookie sheet to catch liquid that boils over. Bake the pie for 30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned on top. It’s done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of crumbs. Cut the crust into slices before you serve the pie, which makes serving individual portions easier.

Southwest Salad**
You can prepare the salad ingredients in advance and chill them in the refrigerator to save time and meld the flavors together more; when you’re ready, just arrange the ingredients as you like in your serving bowl.
Serves 10 to 12

Grilled Salad Ingredients
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Orange Bell Pepper
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Gypsy Sweet Pepper or Other Mild Wax Pepper
1 Medium White Onion, peeled, trimmed
1 Ears White Sweet Corn, husks and silk removed
1 – 1 1/2 C Chopped Tomato, seeded, chopped optional
3.8 oz Canned Lindsay Naturals Sliced Black Olives, drained
3 Small Avocados, skinned, pitted, chopped

Green Salad Ingredients
1 Head Romain, torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 + 1/4 C Fresh Cilantro Leaves
1 Small Avocado, skinned, pitted, sliced
1 + 1 Limes
Salsa Verde, optional dressing
Salsa Fresca, optional dressing
Non-Dairy Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt, optional garnish
Cilantro Sprigs, optional garnish

**My amounts may be off, since I only helped make the salad. Please adjust the proportions and flavors according to your tastes. There may be a light amount of oil and vinegar mixed into the grilled salad mixture; you can use these to dress the salad and brighten to the flavor profile.

Directions
Preheat the barbeque grill. Oil the grilling vegetables. Cook the peppers, onion and corn for 5 minutes per side, turning them with barbeque tongs half way through. (Cook them about 10 minutes total.) Set aside the vegetables until they are cool enough to handle. Core and seed the peppers, and chop the them with the onion. Kernel the corn, and discard the cobs. Place the grilled veggies in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

Place the romain in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cilantro on top of the lettuce. Arrange the sliced avocado like they are radiating out from the center of the bowl. Squeeze a lime over the avocado slices to prevent oxidation. Set aside.

Combine the tomatoes, olives, chopped avocado, 1/4 cup of cilantro and remaining lime juice with the grilled vegetable in the mixing bowl. To assemble the salad, scoop the grilled salad mixture onto the middle of the green salad. Toss the salads together if you like or leave it as described. Serve the big salad at the table family style with the garnishes of cilantro, salsa and sour cream.

Garlic Thyme Cheesy Kale Chips

I know kale chips are really “fashionable” right now, but they are actually really tasty, nutritious and super easy to make. Kale is rather mild in flavor and goes with pretty much anything. You can cook it like chard or other winter greens. Kale is great in sautes, soups, sandwiches and mixed in with other salad greens; use the tender younger leaves in raw dishes. You can make savory or sweet chips. I’ve made chips with sea salt and garlic, Italian herbs, and spicy paprika; I have seen recipes for chocolate kale chips and sweet cinnamon kale chips.

Many recipes say to remove the stems, but the entire leaf is edible. If you like celery, you’ll like kale stems, too. After stemming the kale leaves, you can snack on the stems like any other vegetable sticks and even dip them in hummus or some other tasty dip or dressing.

I bought my kale at the Santa Rosa farmers market. There are so many different kinds to choose from at the various farmers’ booths. The Himalayan sea salt and organic dried French thyme I used was from the Savory Spice Shop. The garlic I got was from Costco; to save time, I bought a peeled bag of Christopher Ranch heirloom garlic. I minced it in my food processor and bottled it in jars; it’s ready to go whenever I need it. Don’t worry though; it gets eaten before it has a chance to go bad. I bought the nutritional yeast in the bulk section at Oliver’s Market.

There are several kale cultivars available, some edible and some non-edible ornamental. Of course for making chips, you want use the edible ones. Red Russian kale has green leaves with purple veins and stems, whereas Siberian kale has white veins and stems and blue-green leaves. Tuscan (lacinato or dinosaur) kale is very dark green, and the leaves are shaped like romaine lettuce but are bumpy looking. Red variety of curly kale (or Scots kale) is entirely bright purple, stems, veins and leaves, whereas the green variety is blue-green. Another variety of Scots kale that is bronze-rust color near the edges, like red leaf lettuce.Like mustard, kale is in the cabbage family; there’s even a flat-leaved kale that looks much like mustard greens but lacks the spicy flavor kick.

Cheesy Garlic Thyme Kale Chips
Adapted from versions 2 & 3 of Raw Food: Kale Chips 9 Ways
You need 4 or 5 dehydrator trays.

Ingredients
1/3 C Filtered Water
1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
3 – 5 T Minced Garlic
1 T Dried Thyme Leaves
1/3 C Nutritional Yeast
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 C Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces

Directions
To make the marinade, mix the water, salt, garlic, thyme and yeast in a large glass mixing bowl. Set this aside for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle and the thyme to hydrate. Mix the marinade again, and stir in the oil. Add half of the kale on top of the marinade in the glass bowl, and massage the marinade into the leaves. Don’t be afraid to really squish the leaves with your hands as you massage them; they will wilt anyway, which makes more room for the rest of the batch. Add the remaining kale, and continue to massage the marinade in until it is fully saturated.

To make raw dehydrated chips, line the dehydrator trays with non-stick flexible sheets or pieces of parchment paper. Transfer the kale bits to the trays, and spread them out so that the leaves do not overlap as they dry. Dehydrate the kale at 115°F for 4 to 6 hours, depending your desired crispness. To decrease the drying time, you can set the temperature to 145°F for the first hour without cooking the leaves; they will still be raw and merely loosing moisture (or so I have read). Check on the chips after 4 hours. If they are not dry enough, check again after an hour or two. If the chips are too crisp, the flavorings will flake off, so you may want to retain some flexibility if your chips are bigger than an half dollar.

To cook kale chips in your oven, preheat it to 350°F. Line some baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the kale to the baking sheets, but make sure the chips do not overlap. You don’t want them to stick together as they dry. Bake the chips for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheets once at about 12 to 15 minutes, half way through the cooking time. After 25 minutes, make sure you check the chips frequently for doneness so they do not burn or get to hard. Cool the chips for about five minutes, and then chow down!

Kale chips are a great substitute for carbohydrate-rich potato and corn chips. Plus, kale has a ton of vitamins, minerals and fiber. The chips are so tasty, it is easy to loose track of how many you have eaten. Make sure you portion some out for yourself, otherwise you may find that you have eaten half of the entire batch. That’s a lot of kale, although it is very very good.

Breakfast for Dinner!

It is a rare occasion when my husband actually asks me to make something specific for dinner; Wednesday he asked for an egg scramble. At first I felt a bit hesitant, since I can’t generally have eggs unless I only have the whites of cage free or organic ones. It was also strange that he requested red bell peppers, since he usually loathes every variety. He also wanted meat mixed in with possibly some cheese, too. So since he was being decisive ;), I decided to go all out. Yes, I might suffer because of it, but at least it would be delicious and healthy. I have pills for these instances anyway, which take care of most of my issues (just not the sulpher). I really don’t like being an unnecessary pill-popper on a regular basis.

I added lots of herbs though for flavor without a plan in mind; I just chose whatever sounded good and aromas complimented each other. I kept track of what and how much I was adding as I went along though. I don’t usually think about it, but herbs and spices contain many health benefits, like antioxidants, digestives, anti-inflammatory elements and all sorts of good stuff. Using food as medicine is an age old tradition that really works and tastes amazing. McCormick and Fitness Magazine even have webpages on them.

I’ve been wanting to try purple potatoes for a while, ever since I spotted them on Leanne Vogel’s Monster-Mashed Potatoes on her blog, Healthful Pursuit. The color is amazing even after they are cooked. Yea for flavanoids! If you have higher blood pressure, these beauties will really help you lower it. For recipes and more information about purple potatoes, check out the Specialty Produce website. If you have generally low BP like I do, be careful not to eat potatoes too often.

The brown eggs are from local cage-free, free-range chickens; they are healthier and taste better. I chose some leftover Thanksgiving spiral-sliced black forest ham; I eat sulphate and nitrate-free meats, since I can’t digest those chemicals. The kale and carrots were locally grown and bought at the farmers market. The beautiful potatoes were bought at a local organic market. I know the ham and eggs are not vegan, but you can substitute the ham with lentils or something to make the dish vegetarian. I cooked the two dishes simultaneously, but since I knew the eggs required more cooking time, I started them first.

Ham & Eggs with Kale
Serves
6

Ingredients
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Sweet Yellow Onion, peeled, chopped
3-4 T Garlic, peeled, minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, chopped
2 C Spiral-Sliced Black Forest Ham, cooked, chopped*
¼ tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
¼ tsp Black or Mixed Peppercorns, ground
1 C Curly Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
1 C Red Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
½ C Vegetable Broth, low or no salt
6 Large Eggs, cracked, beaten
1 tsp Herbs de Provence Seasoning
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 Large Bunch Carrot Greens, stemmed (about 1 C)
4 oz White Cheddar (Dairy or Non-Dairy), optional shredded garnish

Directions
Heat the oil in a large pan (I love using my cast iron) over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until the onions turn clear. Reduce the heat to low. Add in and blanch the bell pepper, ham, salt and pepper. Stir in the broth. Add the eggs and kale, and cover to cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and mix in the seasonings and carrot greens. Stir the mixture frequently to evaporate the liquid in the bottom, increasing the heat to medium if necessary. Serve and garnish the ham and eggs with cheese.

*You can use beans, lentils or some other protein, if you want to make this vegetarian.

Herbed Carrots & Purple Potatoes
Serves
4

Ingredients
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Medium Carrots, chopped
4 Purple Potatoes, chopped
¼ tsp Black or Mixed Peppercorns, ground
¼ tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
½ tsp Mesquite Smoke Flavoring, without salt
½ C Vegetable Broth, low or no salt
1 tsp Fenugreek, dried
2 T Parsley, dried
1 tsp Poultry Seasoning
2 tsp Sage & Savory Stuffing Seasoning (Sage, Savory, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Rosemary, Ground Black Peppercorns, Ground Ginger, Marjoram, Red Bell Pepper, Coriander, Allspice & Oregano)
4 Scallions, sliced

Directions
Heat the oil in another (cast iron) large pan over medium heat. Add in the carrots, potatoes, salt, pepper and mesquite, and saute and stirring them for about 1 to 2 minutes, until they become blanched.

Turn the heat down to low, and mix in the broth and dried herbs. Cook the carrots and potatoes with the lid on for about 10 minutes or until they start to soften, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, and add the scallions. Cook the mixture until the potatoes are soft.

I after sprinkled the cheese on my ham and eggs, I mixed both dishes together on my plate to blend the flavors together. It’s tasty this way, but you don’t have to mix them. This is not normally how I scramble eggs; mine usually involve lots of garlic (of course), spinach, fresh or dried cilantro or basil, salsa and Pepper Jack-style rice “cheese”.