Easy, Crunchy, Spicy, Asian Slaw

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(Becky, the Mama)
It was only four years ago that I discovered  that I am, in fact, a wee bit Irish! My great-grandmother,  who died when my paternal grandfather was just sixteen years old , was named Mary Kathryn McNally.  My grandfather loved her fiercely and my Aunt Ann told me that  his mother’s passing would remain, for most of his years, the saddest day of his life.  Saint Patrick’s Day took on new meaning once I realized I was part of the Irish clan.
Of course, like most Americans I am my own walking Melting Pot:  a Dash of Irish, a Sprinkle of  Spanish, a dollop of English  and who knows what other ingredients are mixing around in my gene pool?
To celebrate diversity, I decided to share my recipe for an Irish-Asian-Cajun fusion slaw today.   How’s that for eclectic?  It’s base is shredded cabbage and carrots — a nod to the Irish.  But it’s quickly marinated in an Asian-sesame dressing with hints of Cajun red pepper spice for added kick.
My son popped in the other day, found a large bowl of this slaw in my fridge and ate nearly the whole thing!  He loved it and asked for the recipe, a high compliment since he is a talented cook and foodie. This crunchy, refreshing slaw is a perfect Spring and Summer side-dish, a nice alternative to a lettuce salad and even easier to throw together.
Some of you may be stumped on how to decorate your table for tonight’s meal or event.  So I wanted to suggest this green themed table decoration for your Saint Patrick Day’s Party:
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(If you’ve not already heard us shout it from the mountain tops:  our newest book, Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full Night’s Sleep is out and available everywhere books are sold, in stores and online!)
And now, an Irish blessin’ for all our beloved readers!
May your hearth be warm, your holidays grand, and the Good Lord hold you in the palm of his hand. 
Crunchy, Spicy, St. Patty’s Day Slaw 
1 lb ready-shredded cabbage slaw (green and purple cabbage and carrots)
1/3 cup rice vinegar (or any mild white vinegar)
3 T. sugar
1 T. water
1 t. salt 
1/2 t. Cajun seasoned salt (I like Tony’s Cajun Seasoning)
1 /2 t. pepper 
1/2 t. celery seed (optional)
2 T. sesame oil
1 T. black sesame seeds
2 T. sliced almonds or sunflower seeds 
Optional for added heat: few shakes of Tabasco or other pepper sauce
Directions:
Whisk all the ingredients above, except for the coleslaw and almonds (or sunflower seeds).  Pour over coleslaw in a big roomy bowl, and toss with tongs, turning until the dressing has coated the slaw.  (The slaw will absorb the dressing and get a bit softer and juicier as it sits a few minutes).  Just before serving,  toss in the almonds or sunflower seeds. Check seasonings and add a few shakes of Tabasco if you want more heat.
Store leftovers in an air tight container.
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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes in Maple-Mustard-Balsamic Glaze

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(Becky, the Mama.)

So what do you call someone who makes vegetables the “Star of the Show,”  and doesn’t eat meat — but also doesn’t get nervous if a ham hock touches her pinto beans,or shrink back when a spoonful of beef gravy is ladled over her mashed potatoes, and sometimes considers “bacon” to be in a food group all its own?

I thought I might be alone in the sea of food-preference categories until, that is, I stumbled on the term “flexitarian.”

If this is a new term to you, as it was to me,  here’s the basic  scoop:  A flexitarian diet is one that is plant-based with the occasional inclusion of meat products.[In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year’s most useful word and defined it as “a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat” in 2012, the term was listed for the first time in the mainstream Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

I still enjoy cooking for the meat-eaters in my family, so I will continue to post recipes now and again that include beef, chicken or seafood and fish.  However, my Daughter The Beautiful Healthy Vegan, has apparently influenced my food preferences over the year we’ve been writing this blog and our book together.   It all began when I noticed that after experimenting with eating “Rachel’s way” when I visited her or she came to our home,  my stomach would feel so nice and flat, even after eating a good-sized plate full of delicious food.

I made the decision to  go  95% vegetarian for a month, after having been served two really horrible, dry, meat-based meals while on vacation.  The thought of meat, at that time, began to nauseate me and it was freeing to just do away with it altogether.  Turns out this was the easiest dietary change I’ve ever made.   I found I was actually relieved to have an excuse to double up on the veggies and by-pass meat (or have just a bite or two if it really looks and sounds good).

One benefit of being a vegetarian is that you start to look at veggies in a whole new way.  Since they will make up the bulk of your meal, you really want them to taste incredible, to come out of their former dull side-kick status and tap-dance into their own spotlight.

This dish, made of roasted Brussels Sprouts, sweet potatoes and almonds, then drizzled with a butter, maple, mustard and balsamic glaze,  will steal the show away from just about any hunk of cow or chicken..   You could serve it as is, or over some pasta, gnocchi, brown rice or quinoa.   The almonds can be left whole for extra crunch or chopped or slivered.. your preference.  Toasted walnuts are be delicious. It is also yummy and a bit more filling  with some  sliced and browned Field Roast apple sage sausage (my favorite vegan meat substitute).  To easily  extend it to the meat eaters in your home,  add a little crumbled brown Italian turkey sausage.

Most people are convinced by the growing research about cancer and heart-disease prevention, that they should eat more plant-based foods.   What Rachel and I will try to do is make this “good-for-your-health edict”  sound less like a punishment and more like a privilege by continuing to  offer easy, mouth-watering recipes that you will be excited about making, serving, and eating!  Just look at these veggies showing off as they take center stage:

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes in Maple Mustard Balsamic Glaze

1 – 2 T. olive oil

1 lb fresh Brussels Sprouts, stems trimmed and cut in half

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cute in bite-size cubes

3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled

1/2 t. sea salt  and 1/2 t. pepper

5 T. maple syrup

1 T. brown or Dijon mustard

1 T. butter

2 t. balsamic or red wine vinegar

1/3 cup almonds, toasted  (May use whole almonds, chopped or sliced.  May also substitute walnuts.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Squiggle olive oil over large baking pan or cookie sheet.  Lay Brussels sprouts and sweet potato on the pain, along with garlic cloves. Toss all of this gently in the oil with your two clean hands, coating all sides of veggies.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Let roast for 20-30 minutes, turning once during the middle of cooking, until the veggies are starting to turn brown in places, and caramelize.

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Mash the roasted garlic with a fork and then gently toss it with the roasted veggies in a heat-proof serving bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat syrup, mustard and butter together and let boil and simmer until thickened a bit, like a glaze.  Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Pour over veggies and gently stir.  Add more salt and pepper if needed, to taste.  Garnish with toasted almonds.

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The Title: Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes in Maple Mustard Balsamic Glaze
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Quick Buttery Coffee Cake (made with Pancake Mix)

(Becky, the Mama.)

This is our second week of condo living in regions of the U.S. where the sun is shining, the grass is green, the birds are singing and this week, in Oceanside, California, the ocean is waving.   


The sentence (and scene) above is brought to you by our much younger selves, when we each bought Time Share, never dreaming that someday we’d end up married to each another, with four vacation weeks to use up, per year, between us.  (And it is a use it or lose it proposition. So what can we do but go play?)

Neither of us would say that Time Shares are great financial investments; but man oh man, they have been AWESOME investments in terms of fun, extended get-aways  for our marriage. We’re both blessed with jobs we can do anywhere, as long as we have laptops and cell phones.

Some ways that we save money and also get business done while we’re away:

1) We drive instead of flying whenever possible, getting crazy good deals on hotels using Hotwire.com or Priceline.com.  I stock up on books on tape from the library (Greg listens with earphones while driving),  and we have wifi – via his cell phone– and a plug for my lap top (goes in the cigarette lighter)  in the car, creating a roving office-on-wheels. I get some of my best writing done on the road, my feet up on the dash, computer on lap, pillow behind my head. Greg also sees clients everywhere we go.

2) We always look for places to stay that have a full kitchen, bringing along a couple of boxes of kitchen essentials so that I can cook “on location” rather than eating out.

For whatever reason, cooking is an enormous treat for me, and especially when on vacation. I like the challenge of creating good meals from whatever supplies I bring, plus fresh local meats and produce.

It has been a long time since I’ve baked something sweet, at home or “abroad,” but today  after a nice long walk through an artsy Farmer’s Market with Greg, I began thinking that a warm coffee cake with a crunchy, buttery, cinnamon topping sure sounded good. 

Coffee cakes are one of my favorite treats to make because they typically aren’t overly sweet, they whip up and cook quickly, and it makes its own topping while baking.  If you have a good basic recipe, you can swing it a dozen ways!   Add blueberries or chopped apples, a variety of nuts, a little citrus zest, or even chocolate chips and you can dress up a basic cake anyway you want to go.  The added bonus: you get to eat cake for breakfast.  What’s not to love?

I didn’t bring baking powder or soda with me, however (a HA!) I brought some pancake mix.  Sure enough, I sleuthed up a recipe online for coffee cake made with pancake mix that got some lovely reviews.  I used it as a starting point, played with it a bit, and within 30 minutes… from stir to cut and serve…I was eating a fluffy, moist, perfectly balanced coffee cake.  So good, this will be my Go-To Coffee Cake Recipe from now on.  This recipe makes a small cake (perfect for a couple),  so I plan to double the recipe when I get home and make this for our big family next week, arriving for what we call “Thanksgiving Camp.”

Quick Buttery Coffee Cake (with Pancake Mix)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 c. pancake mix, any kind (I want to try Trader Joe’s pumpkin pancake mix! Vegans use an egg & dairy-free mix)

1/3 c. sugar

1 egg  (vegans can use fave egg substitute)

1/3 c. almond milk (or any kind of milk you like)

¼ c. butter, melted  (I used ½ olive oil, ½ butter, Or use your favorite vegan butter.)

Topping:

2 T. softened butter (or vegan butter)

¼ c. brown sugar

2 T. pancake mix (or flour)

2 T. oatmeal (or mixture of oatmeal, hemp seeds, chia seeds)

1/3 c. chopped pecans (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts)
Instructions:

In a medium sized bowl whisk pancake mix and sugar together.  Add egg, milk, butter and stir until smooth.

Butter a small pan, such as a round cake pan.  (I found a small broiler pan in the condo that worked well. It’s smaller than it looks in the pictures, only about 8 by 10 inches. )

Mix topping in another small bowl and crumble on top of batter.  

Bake for 20 minutes.  It will look a bit like the surface of a crater, but with each “dent” there’s the yumminess of melted butter and cinnamon going through the cake. Sooo delicious.  Serve warm and crumbly!!  (Or if I serve it later, I’ll zap a piece for just a few seconds in microwave.)

 This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The title: Quick Buttery Coffee Cake
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Nt
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook


Super Healthy Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing

(Becky, the Mama. )

Greg and I just spent two days on a road trip, driving from snow-covered Denver to the blue skies, hot air balloons, rusty-red mountains, green grass, gorgeous flowers and warm sun of Arizona.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I grabbed my bathing suit from the suitcase (still in the car) ran into the condo and threw it on, then dashed to the swimming pool. The sun was still in the sky, but sinking, so I arranged my lounge chair just so, where I could get the maximum rays, then sat down and basked and beamed with happiness. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a sun and a water baby. I wore my dark hair in two braids, as a little girl, and by summer’s end I always looked like Pocahontas, my skin as “brown as a berry,” my mother said.

To this day, I wonder if I am part Indian, as I disdain shoes and socks, preferring to be bare foot, even in the winter. I seek out sun like a lizard, anywhere I can find it. I do know that my grandmother Nonny and her family came to Sweetwater, Texas from New Mexico. Her eyes were a twinkling blue, her hair a stunning natural silver, and her skin turned a deep olive every summer.  She loved being outside in her garden, always in a flower print dress (I never saw her in slacks), and if we grandkids were lucky, she’d see and catch a baby horned toad, which us we loved to hold and play with more than any store-bought toy.

But I digress.  Back to the pool.  When I could see the sun dipping in the sky, I jumped out of the lounge chair, hurried back to the condo, grabbing this and that from boxes of food stuffs and ice chest we brought from home – kale, dried cherries, hemp seed,  sliced almonds, Clementine oranges – quickly creating the world’s fastest salad. Then photographing it while there was still natural light on the patio overlooking an emerald green golf course. After two days of road trip food burgers and fries, my body was craving something green and healthy.  This is truly a Super Salad, loaded with nutrition – and it was soo yummy, I know I’ll be making it again and again.  The nice thing about using kale in salads is that the salad still has lots of chew and crunch the next day, and in fact,  it seems to get even better as it has time to sit and soften a bit in the dressing.

Super Fruit & Almond Kale Salad with Clementine Maple Dressing

Ingredients for salad:

2 to 3 cups of chopped kale, leaves only – no stems (I was able to find it pre-chopped and mixed with some shredded carrots in the grocery produce aisle)

2 Clementine oranges, peeled and pulled apart in sections

2 T. dried cherries or cranberries

1 T. hemp, flax, or chia seeds

2 T. sliced or slivered almonds

1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts

Ingredients for Dressing:

¼ cup red wine or rice wine vinegar

Juice from 1 Clementine orange

1 T. pure maple syrup

1 t. soy sauce

2 t. good mustard

¼ cup olive oil

dash garlic powder or about 1/4 of a fresh garlic clove, grated

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Put kale in a large  bowl and knead and massage it with clean hands for a minute. This will break down the fibers and make the kale tender enough to eat raw.  (Sometimes I run hot water over it in a colander to soften the kale first, knead it, and then rinse again in cold water.)  Add all the rest of the ingredients for a salad and serve in a pretty flat platter.   Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and drizzle over the salad.  Serve and enjoy.

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The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Fruit and Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Super Food Hemp Chocolate Treats (Candy & Mocha Frappuccino)

I have recently been singing the praises of hemp seeds (“the new flax”), and telling everyone about their health benefits. Of course, every time I mention the word “hemp” someone jokingly asks if I get high from eating hemp seeds.  I say, “No, the Getting High part of the plant is not in the Hemp Seed part.  Really, this is just the way I am normally, organically, without any psychotropic help.”

Which is true.  And probably why I’ve never understood the need or desire to smoke pot or even nibble on a THC-laced brownie. Life in my own natural born head is all the “high” I can handle, and certainly Life with “Normal Becky” is challenging enough for my family without any
“special enhancing.”

I spent a few days in a hotel room with my daughter Rachel last week at a food blogging convention. She was trying so hard to be patient but one morning, in exasperation, she said, “Mom, I know you are somehow trying to be organized, but there are six Ziploc bags on the bathroom counter and all of them are filled with miscellaneous stuff that doesn’t go together in any logical way. Here’s a bag with lipstick, a hair clip, a pen, and a bottle of aspirin. And even the aspirin bottle is filled with everything but aspirin!”

My mind is a place you probably would not want to go into alone, but somehow I’ve managed to get by in this world, probably through the kindness of strangers and an overworked, stressed-out team of angels.

So I don’t touch “recreational drugs,” but I am fascinated by Super Foods that may help  boost brain function.  When researchers found that dark chocolate was full of antioxidants and flavonoids — beneficial for the heart and brain –it was a happy day.  When creamy  coconut oil proved beneficial for digestion, healing and possibly even weight loss;  and crunchy almonds were touted for their anti-inflammatory properties, Vitamin E and minerals — things got even happier. And then, hemp seeds were found to be a Super Food. They taste like slightly green sesame seeds and are full of protein (11 grams in 3 Tablespoons) with 10 amino acids, chock full of Omega 3’s and 6’s in perfect balance. A vegan’s dream.

I offer you not just one, but two, recipes that make use of Super Foods and taste irresistibly indulgent.  The mocha hemp  frappuccino  makes mornings worth getting out of bed for.   And the Super Food Dark Chocolate Hemp Candy – let’s just say you are about to meet your new best recipe friend.  A couple of pieces of this sensuous dark chocolate treat  is especially delicious alongside a few fresh berries and a cup of  tea. (For health benefits it is hard to beat white tea.) The additional fiber in the candy makes it surprisingly filling, so as tasty as it is, I don’t find myself over-indulging.

Super Food Dark Chocolate Hemp Candy

Makes about 12 to 15 chocolate drops      

Ingredients

1 3.2 oz bar of 70% chocolate (My favorites are Newman’s Own and Chocolove brands, they are both rich and smooth without bitterness)

2 T. coconut oil

2/3 cup hemp seeds (found in any health store and most large grocery stores on “organic aisle”)

¼ chopped almonds (I love the roasted salted version in this recipe)

2 T. dried cranberries or other chopped dried fruit of your choice (coconut flakes would also be yummy)

Directions:

Slowly and carefully melt chocolate and coconut oil together in a microwave, stopping every 10 seconds to stir and stopping just as soon as chocolate has melted.  Stir in rest of the ingredients until well coated.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on a parchment lined plate or cookie sheet.

Put in fridge (or freezer if you are in a hurry) until firm.  Keep leftover pieces in a tightly covered container in the fridge.

Hemp Mocha Frappuccino

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

½ frozen banana

3 ice cubes

Instant Coffee granules (amount to your taste – I like an organic version that comes in individual sleeves)

1 T. organic corn-syrup free chocolate syrup (such as Ahlaska brand)

1 – 2 T. Hemp Seeds

Directions:

Blend until smooth, serve in a pretty glass cup and wake up happy!

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The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com

The Title: Super Food Hemp Chocolate Treats (Candy & Mocha Frappuccino)

The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Fm

© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake (Healthy)

Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake

I’ve always loved a perfectly ripe banana for a quick snack. On hectic mornings, I’d often grab a banana,  a spoonful of peanut butter, a swig of milk and call it breakfast.  Once,  when my four kids were young, we all headed in a crazed mass exit toward the car where I would drive them to school.  Realizing I’d forgotten to eat, I instructed my then-thirteen year old son, Zach, to “run back in the house and grab me a banana.”

I watched, perplexed. as he ran to the front door of the house then took an odd pose, his head slightly to the right, his arms to his side, and then ran back to the car in this weird position. “What are you doing?” I asked.  He answered in all seriousness, “I thought you told me to go to the house and then run like a banana.”

I swear, when puberty hits our children their hormones start eating their brain cells.   But I digress.

Back to bananas for breakfast.  As some of you know, I’m determined to eat my way to lower blood pressure.  One of the ways to do this is to eat more potassium rich foods.  And a banana is loaded with potassium.  In fact,  I read that a bite of a banana has more potassium than most potassium tablets.   Almonds, too, are praised for all sorts of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.

Another new food craze I love is salted caramel anything.  So I combined a simple banana smoothie with almonds and unsweetened almond milk (only 35 calories a cup!) then added a touch of caramel and sea salt. (Sea salt does not raise blood pressure the way iodized chemically produced salt does, and you need less of it to flavor your food since it so rich in minerals.) There is only 2 teaspoons of caramel syrup (about 40 calories) in each shake, but because you use one of the teaspoons to rim the glass and as a decoration on top,  you get the feeling that it is much sweeter as you get a tiny taste of the pure caramel with each sip.

This new smoothie/shake is the breakfast of my dreams.  I’m hooked.  It also makes a wonderful mid-afternoon snack or a bedtime treat, since the ingredients also relax you for a good night sleep.  It could be a fluke, but I have noticed my blood pressure has lowered since having one of these banana and almond treats per day.

Served in a martini or margarita glass not only adds more elegance but allows you to rim the glass in a bit more caramel and sea salt, and gives you more surface area to garnish the top with the same.

Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake

Becky’s Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake (Healthy)

Serves Two

Ingredients

1 rounded T.  roasted almonds (salted or unsalted both work)

1 banana, peeled and chopped into 2 inch slices   (preferably frozen)

1 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk

4 t.  caramel syrup, divided (There are several non-dairy alternatives for vegans, including caramel agave nectar,  or google recipes for vegan caramel. )

½ c. ice

Sea salt – couple of tiny pinches

almond milk, roasted almonds, a frozen banana, caramel syrup and sea salt makes an amazing and potassium rich treat

Directions:

Into a blender put almonds, banana, and almond milk,  2 t. caramel syrup,  ice and small pinch sea salt. Blend until smooth and almonds are just specks.

Pour about a teaspoon of caramel syrup around a plate, approximately the size of the rim of a martini glass. Sprinkle this circle with a tiny pinch of  sea salt, lightly.  Dip the rim of the glass into the syrup and salt, twisting and turning to coat evenly.  Do this twice to prepare two martini glasses.

Create a circle of caramel syrup, lightly sprinkled with sea salt, on a plate,  to rim the glasses

Pour half the smoothie/shake into each glass.   Squiggle a bit more of the syrup (about 1/2 t.) to garnish the top of the drink, and sprinkle with one more tiny pinch of sea salt.   Prepare to fall in love.

Variations:  Add protein powder to buff up the protein and drink the whole recipe to make a complete breakfast smoothie. 

Add liquor (rum, coconut or vanilla vodka) to turn this into a yummy frozen cocktail. 

Try it with coconut milk instead of almond milk.  

In a  hurry? Skip rimming the glass. 


Cranberry Orange Kale Salad

The Condiment Queen, that’s what I call my mom. At any given moment she has no less than 100 condiments lining the door of her refrigerator. Growing up, we always had at least ten varieties of mustard, ample obscure relishes, and enough barbeque sauce to smother 50 pigs … yet (due to raising four teenagers & a revolving door of their hungry friends) we were almost always out of milk, bread, and other essentials.

She loves her condiments so much, she even travels with them. Last week I peeked into the back of my refrigerator to see a jar of orange marmalade. I didn’t buy that, I thought. My mom always has orange marmalade in her refrigerator though. She must have traveled all the way from Denver to Dallas with it the last time she visited, in fear, I’m sure, that there might be a shortage of condiments in my fridge.

In honor of my Condiment Queen mama and her beloved orange marmalade, I used the remainder of the jar to dress the salad at our Easter lunch. The sweet dressing went perfectly with the slightly bitter massaged kale greens, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds. It would be great on spinach or mixed greens too if we haven’t sold you on the delicious wonders of one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet yet (at least according to the Whole Foods Aggregate Nutrient Density Index.)

Cranberry Orange Kale Salad

Serves ~ 6

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale, washed & dried

2 T. orange marmalade

3 T. olive oil

1 T. apple cider vinegar (or white wine or regular vinegar)

2 T. orange juice (I used one clementine)

Salt & pepper to taste

A handful of slivered almonds

A handful of dried cranberries

Directions

First, take your clean and dry kale and massage it with your hands for a few minutes until it looks like it has been lightly sauteed. It will significantly reduce in size and soften up quite a bit. Think deep tissue massage. Kale is tough and can take a nice firm touch.

(As is, kale is very fiberous and takes a long time to chew, but massaging kale breaks down the fibers and makes it nice and soft like sauteed kale with all the benefits of eating raw greens.)

Next, mix the marmalade, olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, and salt and pepper together. Taste for seasoning. Toss the kale with the dressing. Top with slivered almonds and dried cranberries.

Make this a main dish for 2-3 people by serving it on a bed of quinoa, or topping with grilled tofu, chicken (or vegan chick’n strips).

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Cranberry Orange Kale Salad
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/12/cranberry-orange-kale-salad