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Kale and Roasted Root Vegetable Salad

21 Mar

I just returned from a week long vacation to discover that, of course, there was little to no fresh food in my house. Naturally, I have some non-perishable items in the pantry, but absolutely zip in terms of fresh vegetables.

The kale plants in my garden have been a little funny looking since the freezes this January, but they're still producing lots of kale.

Having been on a week long vacation, where I ate mostly burgers and other not-so-healthy items, I was anxious to eat something fresh and somewhat healthy, but had little energy for grocery shopping – so I went into the garden to see what was available.

Right now is not the most abundant time for the garden- the winter freezes killed several plants, and we’re somewhat “between” harvest seasons. Fortunately, though, my kale plants have been pretty consistent about providing plenty of Kale to eat, so that was a start. I also had some beets and carrots that had yet to be harvested. The combo of carrots, beets, and kale seemed like a good start for a healthy lunch.

As it turns out, I came up with a pretty tasty salad that I wanted to share.

2 – 3 cups fresh Kale, torn up into salad-size pieces

1 – 2 beets, including the greens

3 – 4 large carrots

1 large shallot

2 cloves garlic

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 lemon

Thyme, sage, oregano, pepper, and sea salt to taste (a pinch each)

Here are the carrots and beets before roasting. Note, I used some white and some orange carrots because they were available in my garden, but they also added color to the salad.

  • Wash everything and peel carrots and beets
  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Chop carrots and beets into bite-sized pieces. I like making them round, fairly thin slices. Put beet greens aside
  • Place carrots and beets in a baking dish – preferably in a single layer
  • Chop up the shallots and garlic, in fairly large pieces, and sprinkle over the carrots and beets
  • Pour about 1.5 tbsp of olive oil over the vegetables
  • Add thyme, sage, oregano, pepper and salt to the vegetables – just a little pinch of each
  • Toss or stir vegetables so that they are all evenly coated with olive oil and spices
  • Roast the vegetable mixture in the oven for about 40 – 45 minutes or until tender – test with a fork from time to time
  • When veggies are finished cooking, set aside and allow them to cool a little. You’ll want them to be warm, but not hot when you put them on the salad
  • In a large salad bowl, place the torn up kale and the beet greens (tear up the beet greens if they’re too big to serve as salad leaves)
  • Squeeze 1/2 lemon’s worth of juice over the salad
  • Add about 1 – 1.5 tbsp olive oil to the salad
  • At this point, ensure that the carrots and beets are not too hot, and add them to the top of the salad. It should make for a very colorful presentation.
  • Be sure to toss the beets, carrots, kale and beet greens thoroughly before serving
  • Add fresh ground black pepper to taste

    Finished salad with kale, beets & carrots

This salad turned out to be very tasty and, based on what I’ve read – especially about kale and beets – it’s full of vitamins, anti-oxidants and assorted “good things.” I hope you enjoy it.

The (ever-so-cliche) New Years Diet

12 Jan

There are few things in this world that I loathe quite as much as diets; Few things that I will fight quite as much as I will fight the idea of going on a diet.
I find that it’s fairly common that whatever type of diet I attempt, I crave, need, MUST HAVE the item that the diet forbids. South Beach is supposed to be a great way to lose weight fast. I can promise, though, that the moment I make the decision to go on the South Beach diet, I will want nothing more than rice & baked potatoes.
I think that most people are a lot like me. I think that’s why Weight Watchers has done well with it’s “point” system – you can eat what you want as long as you count the points and balance it out with whatever else you eat that day. There are quite a few similar diets out there.
While I believe that generally, dieting is a terrible plan and a waste of effort because of my lack of fortitude, I have decided that this year I will be one of the millions who engages in a “New Years Resolution” diet. I am of the very firm belief that a diet has to be flexible in terms of what you’re allowed to eat. I am also pretty determined that any type of weight loss regime has to be completely healthy (no Atkins for me – I don’t care how many bunless cheeseburgers I’m allowed to have). Also, I can’t focus on what I am/am not eating all day so there has to be some level of simplicity for me to stick with it.
With all of these factors, I’ve decided to do a diet based on calories/fat. I’m using livestrong.com as my main “diet guru”. They have a great calorie-counting application called MyPlate. I just entered my weight, height, age, normal activity level, and amount of weight that I wanted to lose per week. It provided me with a reasonable daily calorie goal to work towards. What I like about this is that if I do decide to have a cheeseburger (with the bun) tonight, I can balance it by eating really, really low calorie food for the rest of the day (I haven’t checked the cheeseburger’s calories – I might just have to have water for the rest of the day which wouldn’t really work out). Additionally, I can earn extra calories by working out. If I go for an hour-long run, for example, then I get an additional 614 calories for that day (I checked, that’s just about enough for the cheeseburger).
The MyPlate application is free to use, unless you want to upgrade to “gold” status. It tracks my calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbs, fiber, protein, and sugars every day. As an added bonus, there is an app for my blackberry. I can use that to track foods that I eat while away from my computer, look up foods that I’m wanting to eat (to decide if it’s worth the calories), and check my current calories for the day.
Since I’m working on this diet, you should expect to see some recipes/tips for fellow dieters coming up soon. For now, here’s a list of foods that I’ve been enjoying while cutting back on calories (nothing ridiculously innovative here, just some thought starters):
– Skinny Cow Ice Cream sandwiches

– Morning Star Farms sausage links (http://morningstarfarms.com/)

– Baby carrots (skip the hummus or ranch dressing – too high in fat)

– Laughing cow cheese

– Rice crackers (I’ve been eating some from “sesmark” that are pretty low cal/fat- watch out for normal crackers – they are much fattier than you think!)

– Cucumber/tomato salad (chop up cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and squeeze one lemon, and a little bit of balsamic vinegar over it)

– Yogurt

– Fruit, fruit, fruit

– Soup – I like the Campbell’s soup at hand, personally

Also, here are a few things that I’ve learned that have more calories than you think, though they’re generally considered “healthy”:

– nigiri sushi – while overall a pretty healthy choice, Livestrong.com says that one piece of salmon nigiri has 68 calories- if you have a bunch of pieces for a meal, it actually becomes a pretty calorie-heavy meal

– olive oil – one table spoon is 120 calories and a whopping 14g of fat. Even if it’s “the good fat”, that’s still a lot

– Avocado – one large avocado is between 200 – 300 calories and about 30g of fat. I’m still munching on them (because you do need SOME fat) but watch out!.

As you all probably already know, it’s about moderation. I’ve had a few little “indulgence” snacks and managed to stay under my calorie goals mostly by making them REALLY LITTLE amounts of the snack.
Keep your eyes peeled for diet-friendly recipes to come soon.