Kale, Potato and White Bean Soup

Last night I had a dream that I looked out the window to see the trees blooming with a million pink buds. Then I woke up and all the branches were still bare and surrounded by piles of gray snow.

I’m pretty sure I’m making it up but I feel an almost imperceivable shift toward spring. It’s coming, oh please oh please let it be coming.

I was telling my sister yesterday that I’m feeling uninspired in the kitchen lately. This is likely because I’m sick of winter vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, I love sweet potatoes and carrots and parsnips but what I’d really like to eat are some lovely green asparagus stalks that don’t cost $5.99 a bunch! Or some sweet, red tomatoes that haven’t been imported from Brazil.

Guess we’ll have to make do with what we have right now. And what we have are white beans and kale! The pairing of white beans and kale seems almost as natural as peanut butter and jelly.

Actually it doesn’t at all but it does sound good together. So we’ll make another soup with hopes that it’s one of the last of the season and that soon we’ll be turning our attention to fresh salads and fruit.

Until then…

kale and white bean soup

Kale, Potato and White Bean End of Winter Soup (vegan, gluten-free)

2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (or regular olive oil)

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, sliced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 cup of loosely packed basil, cut into ribbons (optional)

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2-1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

8 cups of water and two no salt bouillon cubes (or 8 cups of no salt veggie stock)

6 red potatoes, diced

2 cans of white beans with juices (I used a combo of great northern and white kidney beans)

3 cups chopped kale (I used curly but lacinato would work well here too)

————

White Bean and Kale Soup Ingredients

Slice onion, carrot, celery and potatoes.

vegetable assembly line

Heat olive oil and saute onion, carrot and celery until lightly soft. Add garlic and basil. Saute for another minute.

sauteed veggies

Add thyme, salt, cayenne pepper and bay leaf. Mix with veggies.

Next add water and bouillon cubes. I always use no salt bouillon cubes but it’s especially important here because I’m not draining the beans and the juice of the beans adds extra salt.

Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

Add beans and potatoes cook for 25 minutes.

Lastly, add kale. Cook until wilted.

Adjust salt to taste and remove bay leaf before serving.

I turned the burner off and left the soup covered on the stove while I taught my noon class and went to the gym. When I ate it a couple of hours later it reminded me very much of the soups my dad used to make, which made it taste that much better.

kale and white bean soup kale and white bean soup

If we have to eat more soup, might as well be good soup right?

Enjoy and Exhale!

Things I’m Loving 2!

If you missed Things I’m Loving 1 you can find it here.

I sort of love this series. It gives me the chance to find awesome things on the internet or in the world that don’t make much sense to share on their own and make them into a cohesive post.

1.) First up, a birthday gift from my lovely friend Kate. I couldn’t believe it when I opened it. A gold kale leaf! It’s now become a permanent part of my key chain and I smile every time I open the door. Thank you Kate!

kale leaf key chain

2.) I know we’re like 8 years behind the times but we just started the Dexter series and can’t get enough. It’s such a good show, I don’t know how I can root for a serial killer but I love him. Michael C. Hall is brilliant! If you haven’t already watched it, you should.

Dexter

3.) This mini-workout. I found it on Pinterest the other day and did it after a run. It was fun to add a little something different to my usual routine.

Victoria Secret Workout

4.) This book. Unbeknownst to me I downloaded it from the library before realizing it’s about 800 pages long. I’m about 50% through, finally, and although sometimes it can be slow I’m now very invested in these Hungarian characters.

The Invisible Bridge

5.) These Athleta yoga pants. I have been a big Lululemon fan for as long as I can remember and really love their stuff but the prices are a little high, especially on a teacher’s salary. Now that I’m teaching some community classes at Athleta, I thought I’d try out a pair. And then another. And another. I’m loving their pants. They fit great, don’t ride or bunch and are less expensive than Lulu. I also bought a pair for my sister for Christmas and she’s a huge fan for running. Worth a try, you can return after a workout if you hate them, no questions asked.

Athleta pants

6.) The city by the bay. Tickets are booked! We’ll be home the first weekend in April. Let the countdown begin. Napa, Urban Flow, Gracias Madre, fog, friends and family here we come.

Golden Gate

Enjoy and Exhale!

Kale Salad with Tahini Cashew Dressing

When I’m sick I can’t muster up the will to eat my normal plethora of vegetables. I want nothing to do with dinner bowls or sweet potatoes or broccoli. The best I could do over the past few days was my morning smoothie and a bowl of frozen peas. So I knew things were looking up when I was craving a salad this afternoon.

I’ve mentioned before but I’m not a huge fan of raw kale. I much rather prefer it lightly steamed but everyone keeps raving about it raw so I thought I’d give it one more shot. This time I used Tuscan kale instead of curly as it’s said to have a milder flavor and wilts a little better when massaged with dressing.

Verdict, the dressing was delicious but I still prefer my kale steamed. Oh well, next time and of course, there’s always a next time with kale!

Massaged Kale Salad with Tahini Cashew Dressing (vegan, gluten-free)

1/2 cup soaked cashews with 2 tablespoons reserved soaking water

2 tablespoons tahini

1 teaspoon garlic infused olive oil

1.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8 cups Tuscan kale

1/2 bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1/2 apple, thinly sliced

2 tablespoon sesame seeds

————

Place cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Drain most of the water but reserve a few tablespoons. Place cashews and reserved liquid into a food processor. Add all ingredients through cayenne pepper.

Processes for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

Tahini Cashew Dressing

Adjust flavoring to taste.

Put kale in a large bowl and massage dressing into kale until it begins to wilt. Use your hands to really work it in.

Massaged Kale

Slice pepper, avocado and apple. Add to kale. Top with sesame seeds.

The dressing has a little heat from the cayenne that I loved with the kale and the mix of crunch from the pepper and apple with the smooth avocado was perfect.

This salad is also calcium rich. I ate 3 cups of the salad with about a 1/4 of a cup of dressing and 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds which offered up about 45% of my daily intake. Not bad for a little salad.

Kale Salad with Tahini Cashew DressingKale Salad with Tahini Cashew Dressing

Enjoy and Exhale!

Shredded Brussel Sprout and Kale Salad

When I was planning our holiday meals I knew I wanted to include lots and lots of greens. As I was searching epicurious I came across this salad and it sounded simple and delicious. My family loves brussel sprouts and I adore kale (duh!) so this seemed like the perfect marriage. It ended up being a big hit around our table not only from the veggie inclined but from the omnivores as well.

Always wanting to give credit to the original source, here is the link but be warned, my version deviates so much that it almost doesn’t seem like the same salad. I simplified my recipe a lot, not so much because I didn’t like the idea of cheese and nuts but because it was the last thing I made that night and I simply forgot to add them. My mom and Michael both said they liked how simple it was without, points for forgetfulness.

Shredded brussel sprout and kale salad (vegan, gluten-free)

1 lb brussel sprouts, shredded

1 bag of torn kale

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 tbsp garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

pinch of salt

1-2 tbsp water

————-

Bring a pot of water to boil.

Shred brussel sprouts. I did this with a knife and it took forever but I imagine a food processor would work well and be much faster. Wash and tear kale. I used a prepackaged bag of kale from Trader Joe’s for simplicity sake.

Shredded brussel sprouts

shredded brussel sprouts and kale

Once water is boiling, dump in brussel sprouts and kale for 30-45 seconds. Drain and rinse veggies with cold water.

Saute shallot and garlic in olive oil until shallot is soft, about 2 minutes.

Add shallots/garlic to a bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust accordingly. You can replace the water with olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar if you feel like something is lacking. You want the dressing to be fairly thin so it coats the salad evenly.

Place vegetables in a big salad bowl. Mix with dressing.

shredded brussel sprout and kale salad

The salad was great the day of but was equally as tasty the 2 days after, by the third day it was pretty soggy.

I again apologize for my horrible pictures. My new years resolution is to get a better camera and learn how to take better photos.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Inside My Shopping Cart

I was recently asked about how I grocery shop and plan our meals. To be honest, there’s no science to it and most the time I don’t even have a plan but I’ll share my pseudo ‘strategy’ here in case it helps someone.

We usually grocery shop once a week. We, like most of Boston, do a big shop on Sundays after a run, breakfast and some football. During the week I may also stop in to pick up odds and ends, especially on Thursday evenings when I’m done teaching at All One Yoga as there’s a grocery store on the same block.

During the week I spend a lot of time on food blogs and Tastespotting. If there is something in particular that catches my eye, I bookmark it. For anyone who is following a lot of blogs and doesn’t use a reader I strongly suggest it. I use NetNewsWire. It’s a great way to aggregate blogs and recipes. When I like something, I flag the post then refer back to it right before we go shopping. See below.

NetNewsWire

If something sounds good to both Michael and me then I make a list of the ingredients we’ll need on my phone.

But only if something sounds good.

Most the time we are very wishy-washy so we just buy staples for our go-to meals. That list is below:

Fruits and Veggies:

Apples, lemons, limes, celery, carrots, ginger and cucumbers. Most of these are for my morning juices.

Onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, avocados, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, kale, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and asparagus. These are for steamed and roasted vegetables, the base for soups or assorted dinner bowls. I buy onions and sweet potatoes in bulk when I can because we use them so often. I also buy cilantro pretty religiously because it’s my favorite herb.

“Dairy”:

Almond milk, firm tofu, vegenaise and Earth Balance spread. We don’t buy a ton of traditional dairy but we do buy cheese and eggs. Michael likes cheese on his sandwiches and often makes eggs on the weekends. I will eat a quesadilla or panini when I need a quick meal so it’s nice to have in the house.

Bulk Bins:

Garbanzo, black, white beans, quinoa, lentils, dates, gf oats, nuts, raisins. If I’m trying a recipe with new ingredients I will try to buy what I can in the bulk bins in case I don’t like it. That’s how I discovered chia and flax seeds. I’ve alluded to it before but the bulk bins tend to be cheaper than packages of the same item. Save your money and buy bulk. I use a bunch of mason jars to hold my bulk goodies.

Bulk bin mason jars

Freezer Section: 

Gluten-free bread (Udi’s is Michael’s brand of choice), Against the Grain frozen gf pizzas are a new favorite, frozen peas, corn. If we’re at Trader Joe’s I stock up on corn and bean enchiladas, green chile tamales, veggie gyozas and soycatash. I also buy a big bunch of bananas every other week or so and stick them directly in the freezer when we get home for smoothies and baking. I’ve been making this a ton so I’ve gone through a lot of bananas lately.

Beverages: 

We are obsessed with bubbly water. We buy at least 10 bottles each time we go to the store. We really need a soda stream. If I need it I’ll buy Tazo’s Awake black tea and Michael loves cranberry juice so we buy a couple of bottles regularly.

Treats:

We are both big chip fans. We buy a bag or two of Lundberg’s BBQ rice chips and a bag of tortilla chips every week. If you’ve never tried Lundberg rice chips please do yourself a favor and buy some as soon as possible. They are SO good!

I eat Whole Food’s vegan dark chocolate chips almost every night so we buy a bag most weeks. We occasionally buy ice cream. We also eat a lot of salsa, that’s not a treat but I didn’t know what section to put it in, ha.

As for meat, Michael is not a vegetarian and will eat it if we’re out or occasionally when ordering takeout but we never buy it. Below is a shot of our groceries from a trip to Whole Foods.

Typical groceries

Whew, okay, so that’s mostly it. I’m sure I’m leaving a ton of stuff off this list but this is the basic outline. It’s nothing too exciting and we spend way too much money on food but I consider it too important to skimp on. Hope this helped some of you out.

Have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy!

Recipe FAIL(s)

It’s not all rainbows and kittens here at quinoa, kale and exhale. Sometimes you start a recipe with the highest of expectations and then it turns out to be a big fat flop!

Yesterday I set out to make gluten-free bread sticks. I did some research online, per usual. I mixed the yeast with warm almond milk and sugar. I added it to the dry ingredients, plus some fresh rosemary. I formed the bread sticks, brushed them with garlicky vegan butter and crossed my fingers. Michael came home about an hour later and I eagerly showed him the baked bread sticks, they looked so nice. He took a bite, looked at me with a mouth full and shook his head ‘no, I do NOT think so’. He’s my biggest fan in the kitchen and often says things are better than they actually are so when he denied the bread sticks I knew I had to admit defeat…this time.

With no bread stick recipe to share with you I scoured the web and my cookbooks for some inspiration. Last week I bought some mustard seeds and I thought maybe a sweet mustard salad dressing would be the perfect make-up recipe for today’s post.

But, some days the cooking gods are just not in your favor. The only successful thing I’ve done in the last hour is burn two sets of mustard seeds and make a horrible charred and acidic mustard dressing.

I am now sitting under a big blanket with the windows wide open, letting in the 40 degree air so I can rid the house of the smell of failure 🙂

Lunch today? The simplest kale salad with rice wine vinegar, salt and water chestnuts and some Trader Joe’s veggie pot stickers.

White flag waving.

Until tomorrow.