Monday, January 21, 2013

Tender Lovin' Kale

Thanks to Living Social, I'm back to doing copious amounts of yoga.  I've been doing yoga off and on for six years now, but I am guilty of snobbery when it comes to the practice.  Very un-yogic, huh?  I've done hatha/vinyasa. but the most transformative of practices I've done is Sivananda, a tradition hailing from India that takes a holistic approach to yoga - meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), asanas (physical exercises, or in the west, "poses"), vegetarian diet (yes indeed!  I was vegetarian for at least a year), and yogic philosophy.  During this period, I always scoffed at Bikram.  Bikram wasn't yoga, I would say.

Well, fast forward three years later, and the sobering truth comes out.  I'm doing Bikram and like anything in life, you can apply meditative aspects to, well, anything in life - working on spreadsheets, cooking, knitting, dancing, yadda yadda yadda.  In fact, that's the purpose of meditation is for it to permeate all aspects of your being.  

Anyway, enough of that overdrawn prologue.  

This post is about sharing recipes for favorite post-yoga dinners I've concocted.  Never has it been more apparent than in 90 minutes of dripping sweat in 105 degrees while doing physical contortions how a healthy diet and proper hydration are paramount.  If I were to run an =correl(array1,array2) in Excel (sorry for the geekery), that correlation between proper healthy food and physical activity would be very, very, very close to 1, if not 1.  I noticed it - painfully - a week ago when I gave in to a Costco hotdog for lunch (disgusting) and today when I had three chocolate cookies two hours before Bikram class.  The result was staggering. My body could barely finish the class and the only thing that kept me going without puking is what's left of my mental stamina.  So, therefore: =if(lunch=junk,'low energy/self deprecation','Bikram Energizer bunny')

So the obvious solution is to eat healthier.  No more hotdog lunches nor chocolate binges.  For the most part, I eat healthy and in the right portions, but sometimes.....  

So here's a recipe I made up that is healthy and quick enough to fix for dinner or lunch.  Especially in winter weather, I don't find salads appetizing, but I found making this makes it easier (and enticing!) to get my dose of greens.  

Kale is a cold weather plant so even right now, you can still get them good and fresh at the market (granted, they traveled from California).  I prefer kale over other greens like spinach because I find that spinach leaves a hard-to-explain texture on my teeth after I eat it.  Weird, I know.  Also, kale is a lot more tenacious than spinach, that you can add it to hot food like soup or pasta.  Spinach, on the other hand, disintegrates to pulp.   Also, kale does not have a distinct flavor making it easy to pair it with other ingredients, hot or cold.

Behold my experimentations in the kitchen with kale:

[Numero Uno: Wrap]  

Kale, chopped and blanched in boiling water- less than a minute should do it
Pan cooked or baked chicken breast, ground beef, fish, shrimp tofurkey - anything you desire!  For a little bit of Latin flair, I just saute the meat in chili powder.  But actually, chicken breast is wonderful when just coated with freshly cracked black pepper.  
Fresh salsa - chopped tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, a squeeze of lime (I used lemon because my Mom's tree had an abundance of it and I came home with a big bag of them), cracked pepper.  That's it.  No salt.
Shredded pepper jack cheese

[Numero Dos: Crunch]
Same as above except that instead of a tortilla, crunch a handful of tortilla chips and form a bed at the bottom of your plate.  Pile on your kale and other veggies.  You can also dress it with a cilantro dressing by mixing extra virgin olive oil, fresh pepper, and cilantro in the food processor.

[Numero Tres: Soup] 
As I had mentioned, I love that kale does not disintegrate when cooked with food.  I made chicken noodle soup one evening and I added the kale a minute before the pasta was done cooking.  It really tasted amazing!  I even ate my carrots!  (I have an aversion to orange vegetables.  Long story).

TIP:  When sauteeing, don't scrimp on onions.  Use as much as a whole white onions if you want, just make sure to cook them through.  They add so much taste to food!  Pearl onions, when caramelized, also taste beautiful.

Kale is also beautiful with caramalized onions, pasta, asiago cheese served on a hot plate.  

Bon appetit and Namaste!

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