Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kale Salad... Massaged!

Kale has become my absolute favorite vegetable. I am literally obsessed with it.... and in any form: raw, steamed, whatever. Not only do I think it is super delicious, but it is considered to be one of the most highly nutritious vegetables with many health benefits. Kale has very high levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, lutein and calcium, and is a good source of fiber. It contains some carbohydrates and protein as well and has very few calories. Amazing!

Sometimes when eating kale raw, it can be a bit tough and hard to chew. It has a very potent flavor which turns a lot of people off. Someone once asked me if I had ever massaged my kale. Of course, my answer was 'No!' Who would ever think to massage their veggies? Well, my friend was right.

Here is the recipe for my delicious "massaged kale salad:"

1 bunch of kale, washed, stalks removed and cut or torn into pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
2 avocados, cut into cubes
1 tomato, chopped
salt & pepper to taste, optional
cayenne pepper, optional

Place the kale in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and massage the kale until it starts to soften and wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon juice and massage again for another minute or two. Add one whole avocado and half of the other and massage into the kale, until the chunks of avocado have been thoroughly incorporated into the kale. Add the diced tomatoes and remaining half of cubed avocado and toss well. Do NOT massage the tomatoes into the kale. I like all my food spicy, so I top mine with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper are optional as well, depending on your taste.

I make this in the beginning of the week and eat a bowl for lunch (and sometimes dinner too!) every day. It feels so good to put all those raw, live enzymes into my body and to know that what I'm eating has major health benefits. Eating such healthy food gives me energy and I hope you take my advice and try this salad! You will not be disappointed...

Lots of love,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Super Sweet Holiday Gifts... SUGARPLUMS!

This holiday season, I decided I was going to make some sort of treat and package them up as little gifts for family and loved ones. I wanted something different from a holiday cookie or chocolate truffles. I was looking for a sweet healthy treat that tasted like the holidays. Wow, I sure gave myself a lot of criteria to follow...

I always wanted to make sugarplums, but I didn't really know what they were. I've heard the word so many times, but have never actually seen one in person. So, I consulted a few of my favorite go to websites for confections (Martha Stewart, William Sonoma, Saveur) and found exactly what I was looking for! Naturally, I combined a few recipes and added a few different ingredients and came up with my own recipe for sugarplums.

Ingredients (makes about 100 sugarplums):
2 cups shelled unsalted pistachios
2 cups walnuts
2 cups dried apricots
1 cup dried figs
2 cups dates
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
5 tbsp honey
3 tbsp ginger preserves
2 tbsp orange zest
Superfine sugar, for rolling

In a food processor add pistachios and walnuts and pulse until the pieces are small. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the apricots, figs and dates one at a time to the food processor and pulse until the pieces are small. Transfer to the same bowl as the nuts. Do not be alarmed when the dates begin to clump together. They are sticky and this is going to happen.

Dates, Apricots, Figs

Add spices, honey, ginger preserves and orange zest to the mixture. Mix together well with your hands incorporating all ingredients.

Put the sugar in a small shallow bowl. Using a teaspoon or your hands, scoop up a rounded spoonful of the mixture, press together, and roll between your palms into a compact ball. Roll the round in the sugar and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once all balls all rolled, place in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Transfer to airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The longer they stay, the more the flavors come out.

I bought about 20 Ball jars from Target that could fit about 15 sugarplums in each. I thought this would be a wonderful little holiday gift. To spice up the packaging, I bought some nice festive ribbon and made these little hangtags.

This was a super fun thing to do for the holidays and was an affordable gift that I could give to all of my extended family members.

Happy New Year everyone!