Tag Archives: kale

Pumpkin Lasagna with Kale and Mushrooms

24 Oct

This pumpkin kick I’ve been on is showing no signs of slowing down.

I recently hosted an autumn bake fest with a few friends (mostly jabbering amongst some baking), where we made pumpkin spice cut-out cookies. The dough called for pumpkin purée— an unexpected addition to a fairly standard spiced sugar cookie recipe— which made it soft and easy to roll without sticking to every imaginable surface. It may not have been the pumpkin, but there was something about this dough that made for THE most perfect cookie. Sadly, it’s not healthy enough for More Spinach Please so you will have to visit Glorious Treats for the recipe.

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While I was pretty VERY proud of how well my cookies turned out, my big accomplishment of the weekend was the pumpkin lasagna that I tackled last Sunday night. Lasagna is intimidating. Even the simplest recipe can seem daunting. You have to juggle various ingredients, never sure if you’re estimating accurately when they tell you to put “one third of the mixture” on top of the noodles, only to realize that you ended up using half of the mixture and now you don’t have enough for the last layer. Luckily, taste is rarely affected by these nuances.

Once the idea of pumpkin lasagna popped into my head, I ruthlessly searched the web for the perfect recipe. The ones that sounded healthy didn’t seem quite right based on my prior lasagna-making experiences (improper ratios, not enough egg to bind), and the ones that sounded delicious were loaded with calories. I don’t usually like to mess around with lasagna recipes because if you’re not careful you will end up with a sloppy pile of noodles from too much liquid. But… I took a chance. And it paid off.

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Starting with a Rachael Ray recipe, I swapped in sautéed mushrooms, kale, and onion for the boiled escarole and cut down on the amount of cheese. I wanted to use whole wheat noodles but I couldn’t find a no-cook version (a key ingredient for a cohesive lasagna that will not fall apart on your plate). Oh well. I also managed to make a roux using a small amount of olive oil instead of equal parts butter and flour, although this ended up requiring a bit of extra flour at the end for thickening. The culinary gods were certainly frowning down on me for butchering a classic technique.

The layering process can be a pain when trying to follow written directions, so I created a quick drawing for myself that I could refer to.

LasagnaAssembly

The final product come out of the oven looking like a perfect lasagna should: oozing with cheese and golden brown on top. When I cut into it, I was delighted to find nicely defined layers that did not fall apart on my plate. Success!

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If you never make this lasagna, promise me one thing: you MUST make the garlic béchamel sauce. Throw it on pasta, eat it with a spoon— whatever you wish. It’s simple yet superb. And a good source of calcium.

Pumpkin Lasagna with Kale and Mushrooms
(adapted from Rachael Ray’s Pumpkin Lovers Lasagna)

1 head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
2 cups (227g) sliced mushrooms
5 cups chopped kale, ribs removed (approximately 5 leaves)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk (skim or 1%)
Pinch of nutmeg
1 can (796mL) pure pumpkin purée
3 eggs
2 cups ricotta (ideally 6% M.F. or less)
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1-1/2 cup grated partly-skimmed mozzarella cheese
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cover the garlic cloves with water in a small saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and let cool. Squish the garlic pulp from the jackets into a bowl and mash with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 tablespoon oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the kale, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale has wilted and all liquid from the mixture has evaporated. Remove from the heat.
  4. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and mashed garlic until no lumps remain and season with salt and pepper to taste, and a little nutmeg. Cook until slightly thickened (the sauce should just coat the back of the spoon evenly without breaking up on the spoon’s surface). If your mixture doesn’t thicken properly, add another 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of flour.
  5. Whisk together the pumpkin puree, 2 eggs and some salt and pepper in a medium bowl. DO NOT FORGET THE SALT! I made this mistake and the pumpkin layer was a bit bland.
  6. In another bowl, whisk together the ricotta, 1/4 cup of parmesan, and the remaining egg.
  7. In a large dish, soak the lasagna sheets in water for 5 minutes.
  8. Pour about half the garlic sauce into the bottom of a 9 by 11-inch baking dish. Add a layer of lasagna sheets (4 sheets per layer, breaking them up as needed to fit into the dish, keeping in mind that they will expand) and then half the pumpkin mixture. Make another layer of lasagna sheets and spread with all of the ricotta mixture, followed by the kale and mushroom mixture. Top with another layer of lasagna sheets, the remaining pumpkin and another layer of lasagna sheets. Finish with the remaining garlic sauce and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan.
  9. Bake the lasagna, covered with foil, for 45 minutes. Try to tent the foil slightly, as part of my top layer of lasagna was pulled up when the foil was removed. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and continue to bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes more. Let rest for 15 minutes, then cut and serve. Tastes even better the next day!

Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 405 kcal, 15 g fat (6 g saturated), 44 g carbohydrate, 6 g fibre, 24 g protein, 465 mg sodium

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The Salad that Keeps on Giving

22 Oct

Salad has never tasted so good.  After being away at a conference for five days, my body craved fibre and a plethora of colourful veggies when I arrived back home.  Conference food can be notorious for large quantities of nutrient-devoid food.  A typical day was as such: wake, eat breakfast, sit, snack, sit, eat lunch, sit, snack, sit, go out for dinner, bed.  The positive of having so much food provided is the considerable cost savings. The con?  Most snacks are carb-heavy, full of sugar, and hard to resist.  Cake at 10am? Sure! Danish for breakfast? Why not.

And now my saviour: the ultimate salad to “cure” me of a week of poor nutrition.  I first spotted this Asian Kale and Tofu Salad on Pinterest over a year ago.  Why it took me so long to finally make it remains a mystery but I sure won’t wait another year before making it again.  There are a few things you should know about this salad…

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  1. It yields more than one can possibly eat in a week.  And I can eat a lot of salad.  Share it with someone or halve the recipe if you’re solo.
  2. Kale salad can be an acquired taste.  It holds its shape even when dressed, but the crunch can be too much for some.  If you’re weary, use half the recommended amount of the kale and substitute the other half with spinach (add shortly before serving to prevent it from getting soggy).
  3. The ratio of kale to other vegetables was too high for my liking.  Feel free to add more bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, or all of the above.

Below is the original recipe from Clean Eating magazine.  Keep in mind that the recipe serves FAR more than 4 (even 8 servings would be an underestimate!) despite what is written.

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Asian Kale & Tofu Salad
(from Clean Eating magazine)

“Can’t find pressed tofu? Press it yourself with our easy three-step method! Simply wrap firm tofu in a clean dish towel and transfer to a plate. Place another plate over tofu and top with one or two heavy cans. Let sit for 1 to 8 hours.”

Olive oil cooking spray
14 oz firm pressed tofu, sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup 100% orange juice
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
12-1/2 cups chopped kale (about 16 oz)
2 small field-grown cucumbers, diced
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup shelled edamame, cooked
4 tsp sesame seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 500ºF. Mist a ceramic 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add tofu and set aside.
  2. In a blender, blend garlic, vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, ginger and sesame oil until smooth, about 1 minute. Remove ¼ cup mixture and pour over top of tofu. Toss to combine and spread evenly in dish. Bake, turning 3 to 4 times, until golden and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, to remaining mixture in blender, add flaxseed and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.
  4. In a large bowl, add kale and pour vinegar-flaxseed mixture over top. With your hands, massage kale to coat thoroughly until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cucumbers, carrots, scallions, bell pepper, cabbage and edamame and toss to combine. Add tofu and toss to combine. To serve, top with sesame seeds.

Serves “4” as per original recipe.  Per ENORMOUS serving: 341 calories, 10 g fat (1 g saturated), 46 g carbohydrate, 11 g fibre, 22 g protein, 374 mg sodium

The ultimate “superfood” recipe… from a super friend!

25 Nov

After hearing me complain about not having the time and energy to cook often, my near and dear friend JC offered to write a guest post on a fabulous recipe she recently cooked up.  It sounded so good that I was sufficiently motivated to get in the kitchen earlier this week to try it out for myself.  Thank you, Jess!

My life and gastrointestinal system was changed forever after 2 years of cohabitation with Lisa. Brownies made with black beans? Substituting applesauce for oil in cake? And perhaps the most influential dietary change involved making rabbit food aka bran buds part of my daily routine.

Four years since I spread my wings and moved out on my own, I continue to be inspired by Lisa’s baking and cooking creations! How does she manage to make such healthy, fibre-packed creations so damned delicious. My own culinary adventures range from comical failures (really, how does one manage to mess up the peanut butter cookie recipe on the back of the jar) to raging successes – which I am sharing with you today.

While having never made kale before, I have often read about its wonder as a “superfood!!” Classic google search “healthy recipe and kale and delicious” (those people at google really can read my mind), led to this truly delectable concoction! Immediately after having my first bite, I texted, “I literally just made the most delicious creation of life…I think it is blog worthy.” So here you are! Enjoy!

Nutritious and Delicious!


Squash, Tofu, and Kale Curry
(from Eatingwell.com)

Due to my life in Northern Ontario, my odd working hours, and limited grocery store hours, I made a couple small modifications – using an acorn squash and green curry paste instead of what was listed on the recipe.  Note: I (Lisa) made a few other substitutions of my own which can be found below.

2 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Madras
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 (16-ounce) package extra-firm or firm, water-packed tofu
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 large delicata squash, halved, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes  (I used 1 medium butternut squash)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 14-ounce can “lite” coconut milk
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
8 cups coarsely chopped kale or chard, tough stems removed
1 tablespoon lime juice, plus more to taste
Optional: Sriracha for added heat!

  1. Combine curry powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Blot tofu dry with a paper towel and cut into 1-inch cubes; toss the tofu in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring every 2 minutes, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add squash, onion, ginger and the remaining spice mixture; cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.  (Note: I boiled the squash for ~5-10 minutes before adding it at this step, but I think it will probably cook through if you follow the recipe as written).  Add coconut milk and brown sugar; bring to a boil. Add half the kale (or chard) and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the rest of the greens and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Return the tofu to the pan, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the squash and greens are tender, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in lime juice.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 410 kcal, 47 g CHO, 9 g fibre, 19 g fat (6.6 g saturated), 22 g protein, 373 mg sodium.

Nutritious and Delicious Kale Slaw with Red Cabbage, Carrot, and Apple

14 Nov

In the summer, I discovered that raw kale is far superior to cooked kale.  If left to marinate long enough, raw kale goes from being “grassy” (in the wise words of E) to fairly neutral in taste.  Best of all, it’s a sturdy green that keeps its texture days after being dressed.

The most recent addition to my cookbook collection, the Moosewood Collectives, is full of tasty, nutritious, and hearty recipes.  I’m itching to try each and every one of them… if only there were more hours in the day.  Last week, I came across a delicious sounding recipe for a “Raw Slaw.”  Kale, red cabbage, carrot, and apple.  It sounded easy enough, plus it was another way to lessen my apple stockpile.  The recipe also called for the addition of fresh thyme, which I was hesitant to purchase.  Not because I don’t like thyme (in fact, I love it– the smell reminds me of my Mom’s old garden), but simply because I knew the leftover thyme would sit in my fridge and spoil.  As it turns out, the thyme was a nice addition but does not make the salad.  Feel free to include it or omit it as you see fit.

All in all, this salad was deeeeeeeeelicious!  So delicious that I made it not once but TWICE last week.  Partially because I now have a massive head of red cabbage in the fridge that needs to be used up.  Rotkraut anyone?

Kale Slaw with Red Cabbage, Carrot, and Apple

 

Our Favorite Raw Slaw (from Moosewood Restaurant: Cooking for Health)

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1-1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme
dash of cayenne pepper
3 cups shredded kale, ribs removed
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1-1/2 cups grated carrots
1 cup grated apples

  1. In a cup, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, thyme, and cayenne.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the kale, cabbage, carrot, and apple.  Add the marinade, stir well, and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 6 servings.  Per 1 cup serving: 92 kcal, 7 g fat, 1 g fibre, 212 mg sodium

 

Kale Two Ways

11 Jul

I’m a late-bloomer in the world of kale, having tried it for the first time just under two years ago.  I must be honest; up until recently I was never as big of a fan of kale as I thought I should be.  You see, I love just about every green vegetable imaginable (Brussels sprouts included!) so kale should be no exception.  Furthermore, kale is considered to be one of the most nutritious vegetables in the world… and this is why I am determined to find a way to enjoy kale.

I stumbled across this first recipe for a simple kale salad from Chatelaine magazine.  The great thing about kale is that it’s sturdy enough to sit in dressing for more than a few hours without becoming soggy.  In fact, this salad tasted even better the next day!  The lemon juice brought brightness to the salad and there was a hint of sweetness from the cider vinegar and honey.  For best results, dress the salad at least 1 hour before serving.  We were a bit too hungry to wait the full hour and E described it as tasting “herbacious, as if someone just cut the grass in my mouth.”  (FYI: the  “grassy” flavours were non-existent the next day)

Emerald Kale Salad

With half a bunch of kale leftover, I turned to one of the most trendy ways to cook kale: baked kale chips.  They hardly look like potato chips but they pack the same satisfying crunch and punch of saltiness. The flavour combinations are limitless– I used salt, cayenne, and onion powder (I was out of garlic powder) but I think next time I’ll try a more spiced-up version with chili powder and cumin. The key is to make sure to dry the kale thoroughly after washing, otherwise you’ll steam the leaves (not-so-crispy) instead of baking them.

Baked Kale Chips


Emerald Kale Salad
  (from Chatelaine Magazine)

5 cups shredded kale, large stems (ribs) removed
1 large carrot, grated
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey

In a large bowl, whisk lemon juice, cider vinegar, olive oil, and honey.  Add kale and grated carrot, toss well.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 110 kcal, 4 g fat, 2 g fibre, 38 mg sodium

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Baked Kale Chips

1/2 bunch kale, washed and dried thoroughly,
large stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp cayenne

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss kale with olive oil.  Use fingers to massage oil into kale.
  3. Add spices and toss well.
  4. Spread out kale onto prepared baking sheet.  Some overlap between kale pieces is okay.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until kale is browned around the edges.  Check on kale after approximately 8 minutes– it goes from perfectly cooked to burnt very quickly (I learned this the hard way!)

Betcha can’t eat just one…