I always used to think that January was such a dreary month, but I am discovering that I actually quite like it: things slow down a bit and there is suddenly time to curl up on the couch and read a book or even just do some day dreaming.
The one thing I really do not like about January is that no one seems to be having any fun eating. It is all clear broths and leafy salads. Where does this idea come from that healthy food has to be boring, bordering on punishment?
I was shocked when I was watching this program on healthy eating a while back. This doctor actually declared that one of the main problems is, that food plays too big a role in our lives. He made an argument that food should not be at the center of parties and our time with friends and family. I think I actually gasped out loud!
My belief is that appreciating the simple, daily things in life is what brings happiness and joy. And we have to eat, which makes every meal an amazing opportunity to embrace and enjoy life. I say, spend more time cooking together and eating together. The real question is what you eat; if you use every single special occasion as an excuse to stuff yourself with food your body does not need, of course you will not live healthily. But if you look at every meal as a chance to enjoy beautiful food that nourishes, you will eat healthily AND have a smile on your face.
And just in case I have not made my point, here is a recipe to prove it – quinoa salad with kale, avocado and dried cranberries. This dish is a party of super foods on a plate with every single ingredient containing loads of nutrients that are essential for the body.
The first time I had this dish was when my friend LS invited me over for dinner as a sort of house warming (about a year after she moved into a place – but that just goes to show there is always a good excuse for a dinner party). But then she would have never knowing this dish if her sister had not prepared it for her a few months before.
Not convinced yet? Make this salad for someone you care for and you will be. Actually: even if you are convinced you should still make this salad😉
A big thank you to LS and RS for passing this recipe on!
Finally a small note on the preparation:
As I am not a regular eater of kale I loved the fat that LS lightly stir-fried the kale to soften it a little. But if you prefer raw kale than you can “massage” it as RS does: tear the kale into small pieces and place in a bowl with some olive oil, lemon juice, a dash of salt and pepper. Then “massage” the kale with your fingers.
(this recipe was discovered by RS who then passed it on to her sister and my friend LS who then cooked it for me. I had a guess at what the dressing might have been.)
4 servings as a side dish or lunch
400g (2 cups) of left-over cooked quinoa or about 150g (2/3 cup) uncooked quinoa
3 tbsp lemon juice (or 2 tbsp apple vinegar)
2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1-2 bunches of kale, about 12 leaves (NL: boerenkool, DE: Gruenkohl)
15g almond slivers (or blanched almonds walnut halves or pumpkin seeds)
50g dried cranberries
- If using uncooked quinoa: rinse the quinoa (this is important to remove the bitter taste). Cover with twice the amount of water. Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat low (I move my pot to the smallest flame and turn it as low as possible.) Cook for about 15 minutes or until just soft, allow to sit covered for another 5 min. Then spread on a large plate, drizzle with a little olive oil and allow to cool a little (in the fridge).
- Make a dressing from 2 tbsp olive oil, the lemon juice, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
- Toss the dressing with the quinoa. Taste; depending on the amount of quinoa you are using you might need more dressing.
- If the kale has thick stems you should tear the leaves off the stems. Cut the kale into thin short ribbons.
- Heat a large frying pan or wok and briefly stir-fry the kale until just wilted. (Alternatively “massage “the kale – see “Tips & Variations”).
- Spoon the kale on top of the quinoa and allow to cool a little. (The dish can be prepared ahead until here.)
- Briefly fry the almond slivers in a dry pan until golden. Allow to cool slightly.
- Cut the avocado into cubes.
- Toss the quinoa with half the avocado and the half cranberries.
- Place on your serving plate(s) and top with remaining avocado, the rest of the cranberries and the almonds.
Tips & Variations
- Instead of stir-frying the kale you can massage it by placing it in a bowl with some olive oil, lemon juice, a dash of salt and pepper. Then “massage” the kale with your fingers.
- Add a little feta or soft goats cheese
Some of the health benefits
Kale is being called “the new beef”, “the queen of greens” and “a nutritional powerhouse.” Here are ten great benefits of adding more kale to your diet:
- Low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its great fiber content. It’s also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium as well as those listed below.
- High in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.
- High in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers.
- Great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
- Great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels.
- High in Vitamin A.Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
- High in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.
- High in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility
- Great detox food. Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.