Kale Salad

This is an easy go-to salad that everyone loves. The other night when my son, Ben, saw that I’d made this salad he informed some of his friends. His phone was lighting up with texts asking him to share the salad! Be prepared for a surprising new favorite in your kitchen as well!

THE TWIST

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a non-profit consumer advocacy group, set out to find the most nutritious vegetable. And the winner was…..drum roll please… Kale! This powerhouse is not only a complete protein but is packed with cancer fighting phyto-chemicals and antioxidants.  It is one of natures most abundant sources of vitamin K which is important for the blood. A sign of vitamin K deficiency is bruising easily and heavy bleeding. Kale is chock-full of other nutrients as well such as vitamins A and C as well as several from the B-complex group. Kale has a nice balance of several minerals including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus and copper.  Whats more, it contains omega-3 fatty acids which are important for neurological function, reducing the symptoms of depression and ADHD among many other things. The combination of nutrients in kale are perfect for maintaining strong bones and connective tissue, healthy blood, clear skin, muscular coordination, healthy immune function, maintaining proper vision, brain health and the prevention of degenerative diseases, regulate metabolism, control blood pressure and promote youthfulness.

The purple in the cauliflower indicates that this vegetable is a forceful cancer fighter. It is also far more tender than other varieties of cauliflower. Since it is very low in calories and high in fiber is a perfect food for anyone watching their waistline. It contains folate, necessary for proper development of an unborn child’s brain and spinal cord, warding off depression and dementia, and supports a healthy cardiovascular system.

A little ginger goes a long way! Just a tiny bit of ginger in the salad dressing adds a bunch of flavor and health benefits as well. It is known for reducing nausea associated with pregnancy and motion. It helps the digestive system by reducing the effects of heartburn and gas and increases the production of saliva and digestive enzymes.

Another flavor booster in the salad dressing is the sesame oil. It is a natural source of COQ10, a highly revered nutrient to help maintain the qualities of youth. It is an excellent source of vitamin E and antioxidants and research has shown that sesame oil may have a positive effect on blood pressure.

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/kale.html
http://alternativemedicinenow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/ratings.pdf
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2
http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/002399.htm
http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/folate-health-benefits-foods/2011/01/13/id/369432
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/ginger-root-benefits-of-ginger.html
http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4610945_what-benefits-sesame-seed-oil.html

KALE  SALAD

1 bunch kale, stemmed (any variety)
1/2 head purple cauliflower, florets chopped small
2 large carrots, shredded
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 finely diced shallot
1 (8 oz.) pkg. seitan, chopped (optional)
2/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

For the dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable based mayonnaise (Vegenaise)
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup water
2 T Braggs amino acids
1 T rice vinegar
2 t minced fresh ginger root
1 t sesame oil

Chop the kale into small pieces using a sharp knife. Place in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Combine the ingredients for the dressing and either whisk or blend with a hand blender until smooth. Add additional water to the dressing if it seems too thick. Toss the dressing into the salad to evenly coat all the kale. Serve immediately. Serves 8. ©Janice Moreland http://thekitchentwist.com

Variations:
Use purple cabbage in place of the cauliflower.
Yellow or orange bell peppers work just as well as the red.
Replace the seitan with 1 can cannellini or other beans.
Instead of almonds, use pumpkin seeds, walnuts or other nuts
The kale can easily be swapped with Swiss chard.
Add a touch of sweetness with a 1/2 cup of raisins or dried cranberries.
©Janice Moreland http://thekitchentwist.com

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Coconut Curry with Vegetables

This is a favorite dish that my family loves.  Enjoy!

THE TWIST

Brown rice is the best rice to eat. It is rich in essential nutrients, fatty acids and fiber. The fiber content in brown rice is valuable as it helps regulate blood sugar levels, aids elimination, helps maintain a healthy weight, helps to keep blood pressure in check and cholesterol levels down. With its insoluble fiber it also can help prevent the development of gallstones and protect against cardiovascular disease. Brown rice contains high levels of manganese which supports a healthy nervous system and protects the body from destructive free radicals.

The vegetables in this dish contain powerful antioxidants which contribute to healthy eyes and calcium which contributes to healthy bones. They contain high levels of vitamin K which help the bones retain calcium. Collectively they improve the immune system with their high levels of vitamin C, beta-carotene, zinc and selenium, which are trace minerals that act as cofactors in immune defensive actions.  They supply significant amounts of folate which is essential for pregnant women. Without folate, the unborn child’s nervous system cells do not divide properly and is linked to several birth defects, especially spina bifida. Despite folate’s wide occurence in green and leafy vegetables, it’s the most common vitamin deficiency in the world.

http://www.worldofdiets.com/brown-rice-nutrition-and-benefits/
http://nutritiondata.self.com/
http://organicjar.com/2009/2001/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/112589-benefits-sugar-snap-peas
http://www.ionehealth.com/nutrition-health/bell-peppers-health-benefits.htm

COCONUT CURRY WITH VEGETABLES

2 lbs. extra-firm tofu (drained & pressed) cut into ¾ inch cubes
Coconut oil* for stir-frying
6 cups broccoli
2 cups thinly sliced carrots
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 T coconut oil*
1 large onion, cut into ¾ inch cubes
2 red bell peppers, cubed
1 yellow bell pepper, cubed
16 oz. mushrooms, halved
1/2 cup chopped cashews
Sesame oil (for garnish)
5 cups cooked brown rice

Coconut Curry Sauce:
3 cups canned coconut milk (about 1 ½ cans)
3 T muscavado sugar
1 1/2 T reduced sodium tamari, or soy sauce
1 1/2 T rice vinegar
1 1/2 t curry powder
1 t Himalayan sea salt*
3 T organic cornstarch
2 T water

Prepare tofu by frying cubes in about 1/2 inch of coconut oil in a hot skillet. Drain on paper towels, set aside. Steam broccoli and carrots until bright and crisp-tender, plunge in an ice-water bath, drain and set aside. Prepare coconut curry sauce by combining the first 6 of the sauce ingredients, taste and adjust flavors. Combine the cornstarch with the water, set aside.

Heat oil in a very large wok (may need to stir-fry in batches). Add the onions and bell peppers, stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove to a large dish. Add the mushrooms and sugar snap peas to the wok, stir until heated through and the color is bright, then add the blanched vegetables and the onion mixture. Add the tofu, toss all together. Pour in the sauce, add the cornstarch mixture and stir to combine while it heats and thickens, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the cashews. Just before serving drizzle a little sesame oil on top and fold through to add a subtle layer of flavor to the coconut curry.  Taste to adjust seasonings. Serve over cooked brown rice. Makes 8 servings. ©Janice Moreland http://thekitchentwist.com

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