(Fore)play with your food

For years, I thought people were full of shit when they proclaimed their love of kale. I ate it because it’s supposedly good for me, but the gastronomic experience was always bearable, at best. Kale is tough and bitter, how could anyone possibly enjoy eating it?

My opinion changed for the better after trying the “All Hail Kale” salad at Veggie Grill. They somehow managed to make the taste and texture of kale pleasurable. However, my excitement turned to frustration after several failed attempts to recreate the salad at home.

While browsing some seedy websites, I learned that kale requires a bit of foreplay. You need to oil her up and rub her down before she can pleasure your palate (it also to remove a few of her ribs). You see, it turns out that key to good kale is a deep massage that softens its texture and tempers its bitterness.


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Massaged Kale Salad

1 bunch kale (any variety), ribs removed and cut into thin ribbons
juice of 2 lemons (or 1 orange), divided
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional, if you like it hot)
1/2 small onion, minced
1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa

In a large bowl, combine kale, juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Massage kale until wilted, about 3 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients. Toss and serve.

Meals on Wheels: Kona Kakes

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Some of you may remember my failed attempt to make rice cakes that resulted in pudding. After a bit of research, I learned that sticky rice requires less water than the 1:2 ratio used for regular rice and I have now mastered the art of making rice cakes!

In honor of the IRONMAN World Championships in Hawaii this weekend, I made some Kona-inspired rice cakes to fuel my ride (and any other time I feel like a yummy snack). These guys are loaded with coconut and will instantly transport you to the warm sunny beaches of the Big Island.

Kona Kakes

2 cups sticky rice (I recommend sushi or calrose rice)
3 cups water
2 tbsp sea salt
1 cup coconut flakes
2 tbsp chia seeds
4 dates, pitted and chopped (you can replace these with dried pineapples and/or mangos if you have them)

Rinse rice in running water until water runs clear then soak in water for at least 30 minutes.

Combine rice, water, and salt in a medium sauce on high heat.  Once water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover pot with lid.  The rice should take about 20 minutes to cook.

Transfer rice to a large bowl, fluff with fork, and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Fold in remaining ingredients.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper (I use 2 bread loaf pans) use a rubber spatula to spread rice mixture evenly.

Refrigerate rice cakes until chilled, cut into squares, and wrap cakes for easy transport.

Mint Ice Cream Double-Take

Mint is an herb that wears many hats.  I love it in sweets like candies and ice cream, but it also adds great flavor to savory soups and sauces.  Last night, I made a couple batches of coconut milk-based ice cream to show off the versatility of mint.  One is a classic mint chocolate chunk that delivers a strong blast of peppermint flavor.  The other is a virgin mojito flavor that marries the tartness of lime zest and subtleness of muddled fresh mint leaves.

Mint Chocolate Chunk and Mojito Ice Cream
Adapted from Chef Chloe’s Red Velvet Ice Cream Base
Yields 1 pint of each flavor

1 14-oz can coconut milk (full-fat)
1 1/2 c So Delicious Coconut Unsweetened Beverage
3/4 c agave nectar (or you can make simple syrup for a cheaper alternative)
1/4 c raw coconut oil, melted if necessary
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch salt
3/4 tsp guar gum
3 tbsp peppermint flavor
1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks
Zest of 3 limes
Handful of fresh mint leaves (I used both peppermint and spearmint)

Blend first 7 ingredients until smooth, pour half of mixture into separate container.

For the mint chocolate chip ice cream:

Add peppermint flavor the second container and stir.  Chill in refrigerator for a couple hours.
Freeze ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer to a freezer-safe container and stir in chocolate chunks. Place in freezer to set for at least 2 hours before serving.

For the mojito ice cream:

Rub mint leaves in your hands for a few seconds to release oils and add to blender mixture with lime zest.  Blend until mint leaves are finely chopped.  Chill in refrigerator for a couple hours.
Freeze ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer to a freezer-safe container and place in freezer to set for at least 2 hours before serving.