Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kale - A Suprising Ingredient

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We all know that we need to eat more dark, leafy greens.  That being said, it's not always easy to incorporate them into my daily diet without getting exceedingly bored of salads and sauteed spinach.  I've been trying to increase the amount of greens like kale and spinach into meals and this week I actually included kale in two meals without us getting sick of it or having it taste the same.

Yes, I'm proud of that (self hi-five).

Before I get to the recipes, I have to share a childhood anecdote since we're talking about kale.  When I was a kid, I hated it with a passion that bordered on sociopathic.  Any dark leafy green was suspect to me and I was known to tuck my greens into my cheek at the dinner table, then later spit them out in the toilet after we had all been excused.  Yes Mom, I confess!

Still, there was one kale-related instance that resounds in my mind.  My sisters and I were at a friend's house for dinner and the dreaded kale was served.  I, of course, didn't eat it and apparently made my opinion on the offending vegetable known.  My older sister told my parents (thanks a lot!) what happened after we got home.  I got a seriously stern talking-to and had to call the friend's parents and apologize.

Needless to say, kale and I have had a rocky history.

Then, I grew up and realized that we needed to eat more dark greens and here we are.  I officially offer a begrudging truce to kale and will continue to incorporate it...even in my smoothies.

There are two recipes below, one is for a soup and the other a (slightly less healthy) recipe for quesadillas.  The soup recipe came from a recipe book I hunted down on the "Dash Diet".  I'm not using it as a dieting tool, but it has some great recipes that are packed full of veggies, flavor and can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.  If you want to know more about it, CLICK HERE.  I snagged a few recipes that looked delicious and here we are.

One of the great things about vegetable soups is that you can use whatever seasonal veggies you have on hand, and they're usually really reasonably priced.  We topped this soup with a little parmesan cheese and it was delicious.

Check out the Kale Vegetable Soup recipe

The second recipe came from one of my favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman.  I haven't made a ton of her recipes lately, but this one jumped out at me because it sounded totally unique and also included that sneaky green.  Butternut Squash Kale Quesadillas.

I know, it sounds a little weird, but they're absolutely delicious.  Now, they aren't as healthy as the soup - obviously because they include tortillas and cheese.  But you can easily control the calorie/fat content by what type of tortilla you use and the amount of cheese included.  One thing with this recipe is that you need to remember how much kale shrinks when it is cooked, so add a lot more than you think you need to the saute pan!

The only thing I did differently is I cut back on the amount of butter (I only used 1 tbsp. for the whole recipe) and used a light olive oil instead.

Check out the Butternut Squash Kale Quesadilla recipe

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