The Many Magical Wonders of Kale

Resolution: to be more self-disciplined.

photo-43

I know I haven’t posted in a while, and, well, I don’t really have any good excuses. I could say something super compelling, like that I’ve been backpacking through Europe for a month with nothing but a knapsack, a cat, and a notebook and post poorly Photoshopped pictures of myself rifling through brass beetles and sea glass at the Ecseri flea market in Budapest, or that I got hired at VICE magazine in New York and had to move immediately and am currently blogging from some tiny NYC apartment where the walls are yellow with old nicotine, or that I met an ethereal French woman who convinced me to elope with her before the new year.

But really, I’m just kind of lazy.

Resolution 2: to eat healthier. At this, I’m doing an okay job. One of the things I eat about twice a week is kale. I know, I know—it’s totally en vogue and trending with foodies everywhere. But it really is A) good for you, loaded with vitamins C, A, K and a bunch of minerals, and B) pretty darn tasty. I have a low tolerance for gross-tasting health foods. I enjoy food. And I enjoy kale. There, I said it! I’m drinking the Koolaid! (I’ve never really understood what that meant…)

Before I get into food business, here’s a video I made that’s somewhat relevant to the topic at hand:

Curiosities for Sale from Sarah Brooks on Vimeo.

Kale is like a cheap and desperate whore—you can pretty much do whatever you want to her, and she’ll still put out. So far I have:

• Used pre-washed, pre-chopped, frozen kale in smoothies (Oh, she sounds like a real douche now) (I know that’s what you’re thinking) (Or maybe I’m just insecure)
• Sauteed kale
• Made kale chips
• Ate it raw but was unenthused

photo-42

photo-45

My favorite thing to do with kale is to saute it. Takes about -30 seconds and is so easy that your great aunt who lives alone and is blind in one eye could do it.
First, heat up some olive oil and sliced garlic in a big ol’ pot over medium heat. Before the garlic gets too hot, add in as much chopped, washed kale as possible, and then just kind of add in however much vegetable broth feels right. (OK, maybe like, half a cup? For one bunch of kale.) Cover it for about seven minutes. Once it gets wilty, stir it up and add many enthusiastic splashes of red wine vinegar. Boom, done.

How about chips made of kale? Don’t make the same mistake I did and assume that they’re going to taste like ass. This led me to salt them liberally so that they just tasted like I was licking one of those Himalayan salt rocks. Salt them a little bit, then taste them and feel free to add more. You can flavor these however you like, but I tend to stick with sea salt.

photo-44

With the sauteed kale, you can use the whole thing, stem and all. With kale chips, just pull off the leaves. Wash, pat dry, and lay out on a sheet of parchment paper or foil that’s layered over a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (is there such a thing as using too much olive oil? I literally use it multiple times a day) and salt and bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes. Keep an eye on ’em as they’ll burn quickly.

See? Easy as pie, and almost as tasty. Well, not really. But way better for you.

photo-46

Next time: I will prepare an overview of all the items I’ve pulverized in my new NutriBullet. I feel myself becoming obsessed, and I’m OK with that.

pretend-healthy comfort food

photo(52)
I haven’t been as diligent about updating this as I’d hoped, but I’m feeling more motivated than I was. So, let’s get to it!

I made this recipe a while ago, and I’ve made it before. I originally got it from an old roommate and college friend of mine, Becca, who really should have her own cooking blog because she can actually cook. The food prep is quick, cook time is less than an hour, and the results are really a crowd-pleaser (I think I’m still in magazine-writing mode from this morning’s internship…I need a beer or something).

I had my friend Stephanie take some lovely photos of this meal, which I cooked for a couple of friends. I also just realized that WordPress provides suggestions of photos from the web to include with each post. Here’s one they suggested for today:

Some chicken, pork and corn in the barbeque

Some chicken, pork and corn in the barbeque (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can find a version of the recipe here, which I used as a guideline. I serve this dish—garlic roasted chickpeas and swiss chard—over cheese grits, because they are probably the most unhealthy thing you can make or eat, aside from chocolate cake with icing made of french fries.

photo(49)
Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 10 garlic cloves, whole and peeled (I cook with garlic so often, I don’t think I’ll ever get the smell off of my hands. Tip: supposedly rubbing your fingers on stainless steel removes the scent.)
  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 4 sliced shallots
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard (never heard of the stuff? Don’t fret. I hadn’t, either, until a few years ago. I also pronounced quinoa “Kwin-oh-ah” until a few years ago, when someone overheard me and kindly asked if I had been locked in a basement for the duration of my life. Chard is just a leafy green plant that’s used a lot in Mediterranean cooking. It’s a good source of vitamins A, K, and C, as well as fiber and protein. With this recipe, it helps fool you into thinking you’re being healthy.)
  • 1 1/2c vegetable broth

photo(51)
In a baking dish (mine literally won’t fit into my EZ-bake because it’s too big, so I used a small, disposable casserole dish), combine the chickpeas, whole cloves of garlic (peeled—of course), and two of the sliced shallots. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper, and then drizzle your olive oil over the concoction. I used my hands to incorporate everything before wrapping it in foil and sticking it in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees. Bake this for about 45-55 minutes, or until the garlic and shallots are nice and soft, like an oven-baked baby’s bottom.

photo(50)
Heat some olive oil in a pot on the stove, over medium heat. I say “some” because only an OCD person would measure for this kind of thing. Add the remainder of your shallots and cook them for about 10 minutes. Add in the Swiss chard, which, I forgot to mention, you need to tear into strips, and let it cook down. Pour the broth over the chard. Since I did not have vegetable broth, I dissolved a veggie bouillon in hot water.

Cook the chard until it looks done. If you have eyes that function, you should be able to tell. Once the chickpeas are finished roasting, add them into the chard and blend. I cooked some grits on the side with sharp cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese and plated the food in bowls—first the grits, then a healthy heap of chard and chick peas.

photo(53)
Next on the cooking to-do list: coffee cake cookies. (So much for cutting out sweets…)