dinner on the deck: kale pesto pasta + strawberry + raspberry arugula salad

IMG_4379.CR2
Over the years I’ve become a woman who cares more about the quality and depth of my relationships than the velocity at which I acquire them. I remember a time when I was heartbroken, downright devastated, if a certain number of people didn’t attend a party I’d hosted. There was always a magic number. Tonight will be fine, just fine, if only 30 people would show up. Any less than 30 and I’d feel like a failure, because I was desperately in need of affection and acceptance, a need to feel cool.

Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve gotten older, but numbers don’t mean much anymore. When you allow yourself to settle in stillness, you realize that you’ve spent your life knee-deep in white noise when you’d rather skirt the edges of the things, the periphery. The quiet tends to amplify all of one’s insecurities and needs, and it took me years to realize that the time I spend with fewer people is infinitely more impactful than being in the eye of the storm. And suddenly my relationships evolved into something magical, long-lasting, because I spent time with people rather than passed it.

On a whim I planned a farm-to-table dinner with an old friend, Sarah. She promised to bring the yummy dessert (almond yoghurt infused with coconut parfait, mixed with luscious strawberry and rhubarb compote and homemade muesli), while I fixed a wheat-free meal. To say that we had a time is an understatement. WE HAD A TIME.

Onward! I fixed quinoa penne with kale pesto, a refreshing salad of arugula, strawberries, raspberries and pomegranate seeds, and a side of Moroccan lentils sweetened with carrots and dates. I invite you to indulge in some hearty pesto and spend time with those whom you love.

KALE PESTO INGREDIENTS
2 cup of mixed kale (I use curly kale + Lacinato), de-stemmed and chopped
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
salt + pepper
6 oz of whole wheat penne pasta

DIRECTIONS
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Plunge the kale leaves in the water for thirty seconds and then shock them in a bowl of cold water. This will halt the cooking process and ensure that your kale keeps its beautiful verdant hue. Drain in colander, then lay on a cloth towel to extract as much water as possible. Place in the bowl of a food processor with garlic and almonds. Add a generous pinch of salt and pulse briefly to combine and chop. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil until you achieve a loose pesto-like consistency with some texture remaining.

I love adding the pesto, with a slight drizzle of olive oil, at the bottom of a large bowl. Drain and cook the pasta al dente and then mix with the pesto. DIVINE.

IMG_4365.CR2
IMG_4367.CR2
IMG_4370.CR2

STRAWBERRY + RASPBERRY ARUGULA SALAD INGREDIENTS (Inspired by Whole Foods’ Health Starts Here, but the recipe is purely my own)
4 cups arugula, packed
1 cup strawberries, stemmed and quartered
1/2 cup raspberries
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup basil, finely diced
2 tbsp juice of a lemon
2 tbsp juice of an orange
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Whisk the basil, juices, salt and pepper in one bowl. Add the leaves and fruit in another bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss + serve!

IMG_4349.CR2
IMG_4353.CR2

cooking with kale pasta recipes salad recipes style

gluten-free coconut banana bread

IMG_4329.CR2
And the doves flew out of her hair! Yes, we know this to be true, because in a strange, topsy-turvy world, she was free of her constant craving. She felt awake, energized and pining to make foods she never thought she’d like (grilled beets, anyone?).

Although it’s only been a week since I’ve gone off dairy, refined flours and sugars, I’ve noticed a marked change in my body. No longer did I experience rapid mood fluctuations from sugary highs (the 3pm cookie craving all but disappeared), and I felt fuller from all the complex carbohydrates and proteins.

I started to feel that I was no longer running through quicksand. Not only did I have enough energy to sustain me through five workouts, but I slept the deep sleep of children. And a funny thing happened — I reverted back to a time in 2004 when I fastidiously trolled clean-eating websites, read books (e.g. Michael Pollan), studied food labels. Fueled by the knowledge of the origin of my meals, I had become hyper-aware about what I put in my body. Over the years I had become a bit lax, and soon cleaved to a simple, boring diet. Yet this week changed all of that. I found myself poring over Kristin of Pastry Affair’s month-long journey toward veganism, and how diet modifications completely altered her relationship with food (in a good way), bringing her to a more mindful, healthful place. I researched ways one could cook lentils, found new ways to make kale go further and farther, and most importantly, discovered new ways to indulge in sweets without breaking my experiment.

Who knew that trying to find the RIGHT recipe for making banana bread would take THREE HOURS. After studying a few standby cookbooks and hours of sifting through gluten-free recipes (yes, apparently nixing white flour and dairy makes me a gluten-free/vegan gal, I guess) to find a recipe that wouldn’t make me cringe in terror.

Enter my newfangled attempt at making a sweet Coconut Banana Bread. And believe me when I say that this bread sings. We’re not going to talk about how I spent ten minutes huffing coconut flour and say we did. And yet, I felt satiated with the two flours, which are rich in fiber Vitamin E and protein, among other nutritional benefits. With the help of a leavening agent (gluten-free flours are tough to rise), I ended up with an uber-moist loaf and a renewed belief that this experiment is pushing me out of my comfort zone.

And we all need to be kicked out of our comfort zone.

INGREDIENTS
3/4 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of sea salt
3/4 cup of almond flour
1/4 cup of coconut flour
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp pistachio oil
3 large eggs
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup of mashed banana)
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

DIRECTIONS
Preheat your oven to 350° F/175° C. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl until they’re beautifully blended. Lightly brush a 8×5 loaf pan with grapeseed oil.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, and oils. With a fork, slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Then mix in your mashed bananas. Don’t freak out! The dough will be looser then your typical banana bread recipe, but the flours will absorb the wet ingredients and your cake will be BANANAS MOIST.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a rack. I CANNOT EXPRESS ENOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS STEP. Failure to let the bread set will yield a crumbly mess. Be patient. Read a magazine. Dream of eating the loaf, etc. Once your 10-15 minutes are up, turn onto a rack and cool for another 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

IMG_4317.CR2
IMG_4318.CR2
IMG_4334.CR2
IMG_4342.CR2

cake + sweet loaf recipes dairy-free recipes sweet recipes

there comes a time when it’s necessary to go mad for berries!

7514230668_33deedc821_b

IMG_4288.CR2
Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re in the thick of humidity and scorching temperatures (107 degrees, anyone?), but I can’t help but rely on my blender for simple meals. Granted, I’m not an evangelist of the cruel and heartless juice cleanse, but I do believe in a refreshing, icy complement to a meal. These days I’m obsessing over the fruit smoothie and cruciferous greens paired with sweet berries. Case in point — check out my raspberry + blueberry concoction paired with a hearty kale fruit salad. This was undeniably satisfying, at first, and then made even better with the addition of grilled chicken. Light and refreshing, I loved the burst of fruit flavor at each bite.

Here’s what I did in ten minutes, flat:

  • Blitzed 1 cup of frozen blueberries + 1/2 cup fresh raspberries + 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds + 1/4 cup of almond milk in a blender until smooth and creamy.
  • Add 2-3 cups of chopped kale to a large bowl + 4 oz grilled chicken, diced + 1/4 cup raspberries, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 cup diced watermelon (1-inch dice), 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds + 1 tbsp pistachio oil + salt/pepper to taste
  • Voila! Dinner is served!

    IMG_4272.CR2
    IMG_4251.CR2

    cooking with kale journey to buff

    a month without white: red, peach + blue arugula salad

    7500579220_62be3f1eee_b

    IMG_4208.CR2
    Inspired by the latest issues of Women’s Health and Bon Appetit, the peach is having a serious mini moment. This luscious fruit can be poached, baked, grilled, sauteed and flambéed — all methods yield rich, juicy sweet flavor. Over the past few days I’ve made endless permutations of the peach salad. In this version, I skinned and sectioned one ripe peach, and tossed it with arugula, raspberries and blueberries. The dressing was 1/2 tbsp of simple pistachio oil, married with sea salt and a smattering of pepper.

    Clearly you could grill the peaches, toss in some flaked salmon, tuna or chicken, and you’ve up the protein ante, transforming a side dish into a wholesome, flavorful main course.

    Over the next few weeks you’ll see me playing around with the peach, especially with GRILLED KALE!

    journey to buff salad recipes

    a month without white: basil unleashed!

    7502743984_160db02dd1_h

    IMG_4240.CR2
    Truth be told, the notion of dieting gives me a rage blackout. For years I raged a war with my body, denying myself strawberry syrups and tarts with whipped creme, calculating calories much like how one would balance a checkbook, and punishing myself for indulging in an occasional cookie. I remember being that obnoxious girl in the dressing room bemoaning the fact that a negative integer wasn’t a size. I remember feeling lean and nervous in my leanness, because if I wasn’t careful, if I wasn’t mindful, I would burst at the seams.

    Last year I brokered a peace treaty, and I shifted my attention from the concept of skinny to the practice of being healthy, to the art of being mindful. This is my one body, and I’m going to spend the rest of this life in love with it. Instead of padlocking the kitchen, I turned my attention toward celebrating the foods I adore, and I challenged my body with bootcamp, cycling and grueling cardio classes. After a three-year break, I returned to the mat and resumed a deeper, more satisfying yoga practice.

    And I didn’t punch myself in the face for eating a damn cookie.

    So when a few of my friends asked about “my new diet,” I visibly cringed. Calmly I explained that this month free of white flour, sugar and dairy isn’t about a number on a scale (I haven’t weighed myself in a decade), isn’t about a “cleanse” or some such nonsense, but rather it’s about me being a barnacle to a tired diet and the need to break free. This month is about resetting the clock, discovering new foods and new ways of preparing them, and so far I’m having a blast.

    Imagine my joy that I have the gift of time! A day off to prepare a sweet, flavorful lunch filled with basil. You will love this simple dish because of its flavors, its colors and the fact that you’re absolutely full when you’re done. Who knew!?

    SIMPLE BASIL PESTO
    1 cup of basil leaves, packed
    1/4 cup garlic-infused olive oil
    1/4 cup walnuts
    Salt/pepper to taste

    DIRECTIONS: Blitz until you get a luscious pesto paste.

    FRUIT + ARUGULA SALAD
    2 cups of arugula, packed
    1 ripe peach, skinned and sectioned
    1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
    1/4 cup edamame
    1/4 cup diced cherries
    2 tbsp basil pesto

    DIRECTIONS: Toss the salad with the pesto + serve!

    SIMPLE PESTO PASTA
    1/2-1 cup of dried whole wheat rigatoni
    Homemade pesto

    DIRECTIONS: Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, and toss with pesto. Add salt/pepper to taste.

    Serve + fall in love with food all over again!

    IMG_4231.CR2
    IMG_4224.CR2
    IMG_4222.CR2

    journey to buff

    a month without white: peanut butter banana smoothies + pesto whole wheat pasta!

    7493784588_c6729eb67b_b

    IMG_4175.CR2
    When learning of my thirty-day challenge (an abstention from white flour, sugar and dairy), a co-worker of mine asked, So if you’re not baking, what will you write about on your blog??!! Several expletives were exchanged (in a jocular manner, of course!), and I finally responded that I’d write about all of the food I was too lazy or too frightened to cook. And who’s to say that I won’t bake and share the fruits of my labor with my colleagues?

    Although I’m only two days into my challenge, I’ve already noticed a marked difference. Come the dreaded 4pm hour, I’m less sluggish and I don’t create the necessary cookie to push me to the end of the day. Because I consumed a larger portion of protein during the day, I had a lot more stamina and energy during my spin class last night, and I had a very rested sleep. Granted, this could all be as a result of a leisurely weekend in Connecticut, but I feel GOOD. Yesterday, I spent the day snacking on carrots, blueberries, grapes and almond kind bars, and when I came home I couldn’t WAIT to make this arugula + sundried tomato pesto I spotted on The Healthy Foodie’s blog.

    But can we first discuss breakfast? Admittedly, breakfast had devolved into a multigrain bagel with butter. Now I’m obsessed with this delicious peanut butter and banana smoothie that actually keeps me full for four hours. It’s super simple:

    INGREDIENTS
    1 banana
    1 oversized tbsp of peanut butter (creamy, organic)
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/4 cup almond milk
    4 ice cubes

    DIRECTIONS: Blitz until all ingredients are incorporated and smooth and serve!

    It’s hard to believe that this is not only chockfull of protein but supremely filling. Quite honestly, I felt like I was eating dessert and I LOVED IT.

    For dinner, I came home and boiled up some whole wheat pasta and served it with the sundried tomato and arugula pesto. Easy as pie:

    INGREDIENTS
    2 cups arugula, packed
    3/4 cup sundried tomatoes (I used the ones packed in olive oil)
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup walnuts
    Salt/Pepper to taste

    DIRECTIONS: Blitz until all ingredients are incorporated and smooth and serve!

    One thing I noticed as I was eating my pasta sans grated cheese: it was DELICIOUS. I had become so accustomed to dumping cheese on everything that I was doing the thing I was always set against — masking flavor. With fresh, simple ingredients you don’t need to go heavy on the accoutrements.

    So here’s to Day 2 of my adventure. So far, so yum!

    IMG_4187.CR2
    IMG_4190.CR2
    IMG_4191.CR2
    IMG_4198.CR2

    journey to buff pasta recipes smoothie recipes

    a month without white: blueberry breakfast quinoa

    7482450266_70571cfc42_b

    IMG_4160.CR2
    Something wonderful happened this weekend — I had an awakening of sorts. An avid clean eater, I’ve been spending the past few months in a food slump, chowing on the same ten foods I always eat, patroning the same three lunch spots I always visit. And after spending the weekend in Connecticut and being exposed to a variety of foods, my palette had an awakening. How is it possible that I’m engaged in a life-long love affair with food and I’m running from diversity in my diet.

    Complacency is death of the progress, and thus I’ve committed to switching up my diet this month and trying some new foods (translation: break my co-dependent tendencies). So for the month of July, I’m off sugar, white flour and dairy.

    ACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW WILL A WOMAN LIVE?

    Well, she’ll think out of the white box, first of all, and try some new foods and flavors. Normally my breakfast repertoire consists of a buttered multi-grain bagel, and after picking FIVE POUNDS of blueberries I decided to get inventive and try this recipe, and OMG is it delicious. Packed with protein and flavor, you won’t miss your daily bagel.

    INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Pastry Affair
    Yields 1 serving
    1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
    1/2 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk (regular milk will also work)
    1/2 cup water
    2 tsp Stevia
    Handful chopped or sliced almonds
    Handful of fresh blueberries

    DIRECTIONS
    In a large saucepan, stir together the quinoa, milk, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until quinoa softens and absorbs all of the water. Mix in the Stevia.

    Transfer to a bowl, splash with milk, and sprinkle on a handful of almonds and blueberries. Serve hot.

    journey to buff pancake + breakfast recipes

    the shockingly easy blueberry peach tart!

    7474212802_53d45bc315_b

    IMG_4150.CR2

    Would you believe me if I told you that this blueberry peach tart is probably the finest you’ll ever bake? That assembling the freshest, simplest ingredients will yield the most flavorful results? I’m writing this from my dearest friend’s home in Connecticut, where we spent the day berry picking, baking and lounging. After picking a bushel of blueberries in Glastonbury, we came home and searched the web for the perfect recipe.

    What makes this tart perfection is the mix of the ripe peaches juxtaposed with the newly-picked tart blueberries. On a bed of French pastry crust, which was at turns crumbly and crisp, the result was a brown-butter situation that was out of bounds! Paired with a creamy chocolate chunk vanilla ice-cream, the dessert SUNG. The glory that was dinner had been permanently erased from our minds, because as Sinead O’Connor so sagely sang, NOTHING COMPARES TO YOU.

    INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Food52
    For the Crust:
    1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 cup flour
    1 tablespoon sugar

    For the Filling:
    2 cups blueberries, picked over and washed
    2 peaches, skinned and diced
    1/4 cup raspberries
    1/4 cup sugar
    juice from 1 lemon

    For the Crisp Topping:
    1/4 cup flour
    1/4 cup rolled oats
    1/4 cup sugar
    pinch of cinnamon
    pinch of salt
    2 tablespoons softened butter

    DIRECTIONS
    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Truth be told, the original layout of this recipe was incredibly confusing, however, I’ll hopefully lay it out so that it’s idiot-proof. With a whisk, gently mix together all the ingredients for the crust and press the dough into a fluted pie pan with a removable bottom. Be careful not to overmix, simply, bring all of the ingredients together until they bind or cohere. Use your fingers to spread the dough evenly, and be sure to press it up the sides. At first you will enter the paranoia stage, much like I did, when I thought I couldn’t possibly smooth out that small amount of dough onto a large pie pan. Trust me, it can be done. Work from the center out and be patient. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes, until it is just beginning to firm up.

    Toss the fruit with the lemon and sugar and set aside.

    To make the crisp topping, combine the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Work in the butter, using your fingers, until you have a very dry dough that clumps together when you press it.

    When the crust is done baking, spread the fruit evenly in it. It’s important that you spread the fruit with your fingers (as opposed to dumping all of the fruit from the bowl), as the residual juices will make the dough soggy. Sprinkle the crisp topping over everything, then return to the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes more, just until the crust is brown, the blueberries are slightly melted, and the topping is crisp.

    Cool slightly before serving with vanilla ice cream.

    IMG_4063.CR2
    IMG_4066.CR2
    IMG_4093.CR2
    IMG_4082.CR2
    IMG_4102.CR2
    IMG_4089.CR2
    IMG_4113.CR2
    IMG_4105.CR2
    IMG_4107.CR2
    IMG_4139.CR2
    IMG_4158.CR2
    IMG_4157.CR2

    pie + tart recipes sweet recipes

    how much do I adore kale? let me count the ways

    6778025985_acc430fc51_b

    _X5A0886.tif
    As I write this, I’m stuck on an Amtrak train that’s suffering from mechanical failure. While I truly believe I’ve entered the seventh rung of hell, I’m trying to be optimistic about the situation. Originally I had planned to write a long, leisurely post as I made my way to New Haven, but I’ll give it to you straight.

    I LOVE KALE.

    Let me back track for a moment. Growing up in Brooklyn, the closest I’d ever come to consuming a vegetable was iceberg lettuce smothered in ranch dressing. Green beans lived in some murky abyss that was a can, and the very sight of broccoli sent me screaming. It wasn’t until I went to college that I had my first real salad, and it took nearly a decade to fall in love with the BELOVED CARROT. So you can imagine one could hardly have predicted my love affair with kale. And trust me, kids, this river runs deep.

    Although I loathe juice cleanses more than the WRETCHED MUSHROOM, I have to thank the folks at BluePrint Cleanse for introducing me to kale while on a 2009 retreat. Dressed in tahini sauce and tossed with sundried tomatoes and other delicious vegetables, I feverishly shoveled my salad and proceeded to go home and stock up on the cruciferous green as if I were hoarding for a bomb shelter. Since then, I’ve made kale every which way one could possibly make kale. I blitzed it with roasted garlic and pistachios to make a pesto, I tossed it with strawberries, blueberries and a honey vinaigrette, diced grilled peaches and toasted slivered almonds, and, most famously, made it the star of my tofu stirfry and drunken noodles. It’s made its way into smoothies, shakes and as a perfect accoutrement to fish.

    But perhaps the most daunting aspect of kale is the fact that it’s fibrous. This is why you’re not eating it, right? TELL ME EVERYTHING. As my friend @glambr would say, START AT THE BEGINNING AND END AT THE END.

    This problem, like most, can be resolved, with some massaging. Before I make kale I massage sea salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil in my hands and rub the kale leaves between my two palms. The salt will force the kale to sweat a little (wonder why onions don’t burn when you add salt? It’s because salt renders juice out of the veggie/fruit, etc, it touches), and it will become slightly tender. I did this for the first few months of eating kale before I dressed and served it, but now I actually love the fact that it’s a veggie that can stand up to almost any ingredient. It’s no wilting flower.

    Do you have any amazing recipes you want to share? Let me know!

    Check out some of my favorite kale recipes:

  • Stovetop Truffle Kale Macaroni and Cheese
  • Drunken Noodles + Kale
  • Pistachio Panko Encrusted Tofu with Sauteed Kale
  • Spicy Kale Tofu Stirfry
  • Kale + Ruby Grapefruit Salad
  • cooking with kale vegetable recipes