Let me start off by saying, I’m a terrible dieter and probably the least qualified person to give tips on healthy eating. As well documented on this blog, I eat out all the time and when I cook, I have a penchant for recipes that call for a quart of heavy cream. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I haven’t been to the gym in so long that I’ve completely forgotten my locker combination, which I’ve happily made my new excuse as to why I can’t go. All that said, at the moment, I’m on a health kick. A kale/cucumber/celery/lemon/parsley juice every morning health kick. If that doesn’t scream short term diet, I don’t know what does. So bear with me, I’ll be back stuffing something with nutella before you know it.
All this started when I began making baby food. I found myself really inspired. Not by all the food, mind you. Pureeing meats had me gagging and seriously considering becoming a vegetarian. But the fruits and vegetables, tasting how flavorful they can be when simply steamed and pureed was sort of eye opening. I never cook anything without lots of olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, sugar, etc. Who knew they didn’t need it?! Especially if you combine the right flavors. Last night I fed Gus a mixture of butternut squash, carrots, apples and prunes (I stole this combo from Ella’s Kitchen) and it was de-lish. It’s inspired me to try to cook simpler, with cleaner flavors.
Also, planning Gus’s menu for the day, trying to put together a balanced diet, has made me reevaluate my own diet. I would estimate my daily intake this winter has been something like 60% carb/40% dairy. It’s a real wonder why I’m always so tired and my skin has turned a dull, pale, grayish hue.
So with this new found desire for healthy living, I’ve been on the hunt for simple, nutritious recipes. In a recent newsletter from the ladies behind Of a Kind, one of them provided a link to a recipe for a kale salad with spicy peanut dressing, saying she couldn’t stop eating it. She also mentioned that she’d used the leftover dressing to make pad thai. A kale salad that tastes like pad thai? Sold. I made the salad that night and have made it once a week since. It tastes ridiculously good, completely satisfying, and it’s good for you… lots of kale, no oil, the only fat coming from the peanut butter and peanuts – but that’s good fat, right? I used an all-natural-no-sugar-added peanut butter from Whole Foods, so there.
The salad only takes a few minutes to whip up. The original recipe calls for you to blanch the kale leaves, but if you use baby kale like I did, you can bypass this step. I added chicken, which was delicious, but not necessary. The only effort comes from mixing the dressing, which you can do in your blender or food processor. The first time I made it, I didn’t have either of those with me, so I mixed it by hand and that worked too. The recipe makes more dressing than you’ll need – trust me, you’ll be thankful – and it keeps for up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator. So far I’ve used the extra as dipping sauce for chicken sate and on the well-loved dish, my finger. Both delightful.
With recipes like this one, I’m hoping I’ll be able to stay on this health kick longer than I have in the past. Now, if only I could remember that lock combination…
Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
Adapted from Linda LaRue
- 1 bunch baby kale
- 1 chicken breast, shredded (optional)
- ¼ cup peanuts, chopped
- ¼ red onion, halved and sliced
Spicy Peanut Dressing
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 1 ½ T honey
- 2 T low sodium soy sauce
- 2 T brown rice vinegar
- ½ tsp. garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. ginger, minced
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 ½ oz hot water
Combine the baby kale, shredded chicken (if using), chopped peanuts, and sliced onions in a large bowl.
Place all dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend until mixture turns into a smooth consistency.
Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad, mix together, and enjoy!
PS) A less nutritious, but equally delicious kale salad.