Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kale Waldorf Salad

My husband hates kale. Well, he hated kale, until this recipe. Kale is such a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals, and it has been studied extensively for its anti-cancer, heart-protective effects...hence my insistence to get Greg to love it. I'm so glad I finally found something that he actually likes!

This recipe, taken from the Whole Foods website, combines healthy, almost all raw foods together in a combo that lasts at least 3 days in the fridge (if it's not gobbled up before then). It would be especially delicious as a full meal, topped with chicken.

Whole Foods Kale Waldorf Salad


4 cups packed finely chopped raw kale, preferably dinosaur kale
1 large red apple, such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, chopped, divided
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, divided
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raisins, divided
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons water, more if needed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Add half the apple to kale along with celery, 1/4 cup walnuts and 1/4 cup raisins. Put remaining apple in a blender along with remaining 1/4 cup walnuts, remaining 2 tablespoons raisins, mustard, water, vinegar and salt. Purée until well combined and slightly thick, adding water if needed to thin. Pour dressing over kale salad and toss to combine.


Place kale in a large bowl.

Add half the apple to kale along with celery, 1/4 cup walnuts and 1/4 cup raisins. Note: I made this recipe on a whim and didn't have celery, so I added a little extra apple.

Put remaining apple in a blender along with remaining 1/4 cup walnuts, remaining 2 tablespoons raisins, mustard, water, vinegar and salt.

Purée until well combined and slightly thick, adding water if needed to thin.

Pour dressing over kale salad and toss to combine.



Sunday, August 14, 2011

When Recipes Fail...

I only feature recipes on my blog that I have actually made and enjoyed. Last week, I was excited to make and share a new Simple Suppers recipe - 5-ingredient Shrimp Curry. I photographed the very easy steps and was stoked to enjoy it with my husband, but it just didn't taste that great. It was too spicy and had the wrong texture.

I don't want you to have the same experience, so I chose not to feature it. The next night I used the leftover brown rice and made awesome Brown Rice and Goat Cheese Cakes, along with simply baked chicken (olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for ~30 minutes), Orange and Blue Grilled Romaine Salad (from "Five Ingredient Fix" on Food Network), and sauteed summer squash. Of course, I didn't think to take pictures of the process, but I got a few shots at the end when I realized how yummy it all turned out.

The salad was a bit unusual - I would have used less orange and more of a lemon flavor - but I really liked the grilled romaine and blue cheese pairing. I'm also a weirdo about sweet-savory combinations, so others might like this even more.

The Brown Rice and Goat Cheese cakes are an awesome way to use leftover brown rice and sneak in some veggies. They were extremely tasty!

Moral of the story is this: when you cook a lot, sometimes things just don't turn out. I'm not a trained chef, and oftentimes I make things that I just don't dig. Fortunately, with practice and experience, we all learn what flavor combinations we enjoy and how to spot a recipe we will (most likely) love. My hope is that I can help bring some of those recipes to you more quickly so you can create healthy meals that taste great - without kitchen failures!

Happy cooking!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Is Beef Healthy?

I became a dietitian because I wanted to help people. I had no idea that I would become an "expert" in a rapidly changing, hotly debated field. Everyone eats; thus, we all have our own experiences and opinions. Furthermore, nutrition research changes on a dime, and the media over-publicizes or misconstrues seemingly controversial results from research studies. This drives a lot of dietitians crazy; however, I call it job security. I love when my clients ask for the "truth" about certain topics. Eating meat, especially beef, seems to be one of the most highly contested issues.

My philosophy has changed dramatically since I became a dietitian. If you would have asked me five years ago if I thought beef was healthy, I would have told you that only extremely lean beef, no matter how it was produced, is the only kind you "should" eat - only once a week or less. Now my approach is much different. I believe, and I think a lot of the research shows, that the "healthfulness" of what we eat is directly related to how it is grown or raised. When animals eat what they are meant to eat, as in when a cow eats only grass, the chemical makeup of its meat is much different than when it is fed genetically modified corn, soy, or even worse, beef byproduct. Grass-fed beef contain higher concentrations of conjugated linoleic acid, which research has shown reduces cholesterol and has cancer preventive effects. It is also being researched for its weight loss potential.

When cows are free to roam and graze in the open air, their musculature is more lean, and they are less likely to get sick because they're not penned into a factory farm. In turn, healthy cows do not require antibiotics to fend off illness. They are also happier animals given their more humane lifestyle, which I believe is an important ethical consideration. Lastly, if cows are raised using organic practices, they do not receive growth hormones or any other artificial chemicals that we end up consuming when we eat their meat (or drink their milk).

I think beef can absolutely be a healthy part of our diets, if you choose to eat meat. I have it at least once a week. However, there's a caveat - I always choose organically raised, 100% grassfed beef. Not only is it healthier, but it tastes better! My husband requests grass-fed beef because he notices a difference in taste.

So, where can you buy organic, grass-fed beef? The best place to find it is at your local farmers' market. It's often much cheaper (as low as $4-5 per pound), and you can usually talk to the rancher himself about how he raises his cows, what they eat, and how they are cared for if they get sick. Furthermore, in buying beef at a farmers' market, you are supporting your local economy and sustainable farming practices. I like to get my grass-fed beef from Rockhouse Cattle Company at the North Scottsdale Farmers' Market.

If you don't have access to a farmers' market, check your local health food store or Whole Foods. In fact, Whole Foods in Scottsdale is selling different cuts of organic, grass-fed beef this weekend for only $4.99 a pound.

By the way, this same principle of "you are what you eat" applies to eggs, butter, and other animal meat. This is why I purchase organic pasture butter from Whole Foods and get my eggs at the farmers' market.

Bring on the (organic, 100% grass-fed) beef...and a side of veggies!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Speedy Supper #3 - Mustard-crusted Salmon

My efforts to simplify dinner have continued. This (shortened) week, our cook-at-home menu includes the following:

- Mustard-crusted Salmon with Parmesan Balsamic Cauliflower and a side salad

- Grass-fed beef burgers topped with portabello mushrooms and grilled peppers, served with a 3-bean crockpot dish and grilled sweet potatoes

- Grilled BBQ chicken spinach salad with walnuts, apples, and goat cheese

This might look complicated for those who don't cook often, but with a shopping list and a bit of planning, it's really easy. In fact, the chicken salad for Thursday night will be made even easier by grilling the chicken with the burgers on Wednesday night and heating the chicken in the toaster oven (covered, on convection setting) before serving. BBQ-ing is also great because it minimizes mess and clean up!

This salmon recipe, taken from my favorite cooking website, will surely become a staple in our house. It only requires 5 ingredients and is a great way to get inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Opt for organic sour cream, or try Greek yogurt instead!

Mustard-crusted Salmon
Serves 4

1 1/4 lb center-cut salmon fillets, cut into 4 portions (I used 2 6-oz portions to serve 2)
Dirty sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream (I used regular organic)
2 T stone ground mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
Lemon wedges
Dill to taste (optional)
Garlic powder to taste (optional)


Assemble ingredients:

Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil, then coat with cooking spray or olive oil. Note: I made this in my toaster oven on "broil" setting. It's great to avoid heating up the oven during the summer!

Place salmon pieces, skin side down, on prepared pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine sour cream, mustard, and lemon juice in a small bowl. I ended up making extra to use it later as a dipping sauce.

Add dill if desired, as recommended by reviewers on the website.

I also added some garlic powder:

Spread evenly over the salmon.

Broil the salmon 5 inches from the heat until it is opaque in the center, 10-12 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges (I forgot these but they would be great!). I also served it with this delicious cauliflower recipe and a fresh salad. Salmon, cauliflower, and spinach? Bring on the super foods!