Tag Archives: kale

Must-try Healthy Foods for 2013

New year, new opportunities! Make 2013 the year you jump on the healthy food trend bandwagon and cook outside the box. Here are my favorite healthy foods YOU should be trying this year.

1. Kale
Kale is the superstar of the leafy green family. Not only is it high in antioxidants, it contains important nutrients like Vitamins A and C, iron, fiber, potassium, and calcium. If you’re a beginner, try working kale into a pasta dish (it resembles spinach when it’s sautéed in a little garlic and olive oil). Try this Garlic Lemon Kale Pasta or this Kale and Bacon Risotto. You can also brush kale leaves with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake for about 15 minutes at 350° for a crispy, savory snack!

2. Quinoa
This grain is high in fiber and protein and can be substituted for rice and pasta in many dishes for a more nutritional option. And bonus, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa! For maximum flavor, cook quinoa in a vegetable or chicken broth instead of plain water. My favorite quinoa recipe so far is this Southwestern Quinoa dish. So yummy!

3. Lentils
Lentils can be tricky to cook (often turning out either crunchy or mushy), but if you can nail the process, this pantry staple has the same amount of protein as a steak! I love these Mushroom Lentil Burgers I made from Cooking Light (they use precooked lentils!), and I also make this Butternut Squash, Chicken, & Lentil Stew that is simply delicious!

4. Greek Yogurt
There’s one big reason why I prefer Greek Yogurt over regular yogurt—it has about double the protein for the same amount of calories. With so many brands jumping on the Greek Yogurt train, there are lots of options, and there’s almost always one that’s on sale. I love Chobani and Dannon’s Oikos yogurt. And it’s not just for breakfast—plain Greek Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream!

5. Brussel Sprouts
I have to admit, I used to turn my nose up at brussel sprouts—and without cause, as I had never even had them. But once I tried them, I was hooked! Brussels are packed with vitamins, iron, folate, and fiber, and they happen to be super easy to make. Just cut off the ends, drizzle the brussels with olive oil, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and roast at 400° for about 35-40 minutes.

What healthy foods are you looking forward to trying (or eating more of, hopefully!) this year?

Kale and Bacon Risotto

Given that my family LOVED my Garlic Lemon Kale Pasta and kale is so good for you, I decided to experiment with another tasty kale recipe.

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes, and it’s really not difficult to make (you just have to stir it constantly, which means it’s not the dish to make when you’re home alone with the kids). But if your other half is available to run interference on the little ones, this dish is a great way to get a super healthy veggie into your kids’ tummies. Olivia ate her entire helping AND polished off the leftovers for lunch the next day!

Kale and Bacon Risotto

1 1/3 cups uncooked arborio rice
4 cups chicken broth
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, cleaned, de-stemmed, and rough chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper
5 slices of bacon
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cook the bacon until just crispy; crumble and set aside.

In a large sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat, drizzle a tbsp of olive oil and add the kale. Cook, stirring frequently, until the kale is tender; add the crushed red pepper, mix well, and then pour into a bowl to set aside.

Heat the chicken broth over low heat in a small saucepan.

In your sauté pan, add the rest of the olive oil and the garlic. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for just a minute, and then add the rice. Cook the rice for 1-2 minutes, and then ladle in 1 cup of the broth and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add the rest of the broth 1/2 cup at a time, waiting until the liquid in the pan has been absorbed before adding more. Be sure to stir constantly while the rice is cooking.

When all of the broth has been added and absorbed, stir in the kale, bacon, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Remove the risotto from the heat and serve immediately.


Garlic Lemon Kale Pasta

Another fantastic kale recipe, if I do say so myself! I was going to use the rest of our kale to make a raw kale salad, but I knew Olivia would never eat that, so I decided to see if the flavors from the salad would translate to a pasta, with a few extra ingredients. Even I was surprised at how delicious this was! I would recommend using a really good spaghetti for this recipe. I used De Cecco Organic Spaghetti No. 12, which, I think, is the best dry spaghetti—thick, chewy, and just perfect. Also, I list half a bunch of kale in the recipe because that is what I had to work with, but really, you could use however much or little you like.

Garlic Lemon Kale Pasta

1/2 bunch of kale, washed and de-stemmed

16 oz. spaghetti

10 oz. package grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup pine nuts

1 lemon, halved

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup red onion, finely diced

4 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the spaghetti as directed. Drain the pasta when it’s finished, and put it into a large bowl.

Once you have washed and removed the ribs from the kale, chop it into small strips. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and onions in the oil for just a few minutes, and then add the kale. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the kale is completely wilted. Add the kale to the pasta, along with the tomatoes, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. Stir to mix well.

In the pan you just used to cook the kale, put your lemon cut sides down and allow to cook for about 5-10 minutes. (This isn’t a required step—you can just squeeze the lemon right onto the pasta if you prefer—but I’ve found that warming the lemon a bit beforehand really releases the flavor and makes it easier to juice.) When the cut sides of the lemon are lightly browned, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for  a minute before squeezing it over the pasta.

Drizzle the pasta with the remaining olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste before tossing to incorporate all of the flavors.


Garlic Kale Mashed Potatoes

It’s official: I have jumped on the kale bandwagon. After hearing everyone and their mother rave about “this delicious kale salad they had” and” those yummy kale chips they made,” I had to try it out for myself. Luckily, our produce box for the week contained one large, fresh bunch of kale. Because kale is so chock-full of vitamins and nutrients, I wanted to make something with it that I thought my daughter would actually eat. Enter garlic kale mashed potatoes. I figured she would eat it right up if it was mixed in with mashed potatoes, and I was right! Kale experiment #1 was a resounding success!

Garlic Kale Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs red potatoes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups finely chopped kale

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup sour cream

3 tbsp Parmesan cheese

3 tbsp butter

salt and pepper (to taste)


Wash and quarter the potatoes, but leave the skin on. Boil until tender (about 15-20 minutes) and then drain, holding aside a cup of the potato water in case you need it later to thin out the mashed potatoes. Mash the potatoes and set to the side. Meanwhile, wash, de-stem, and chop the kale. Heat oil over medium heat and add minced garlic. Sauté garlic for a few minutes and then add the kale. Cook until the kale is completely wilted and then remove from heat. Add the milk, sour cream, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper to the mashed potatoes and stir well. Slowly incorporate the kale until everything is well mixed. If you like creamier potatoes, you can thin them out with more milk, a touch of heavy cream, or the potato water you set aside previously, whichever you prefer.