Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kale: Not Just a Decoration in the Produce Section

If you were tuned in to the Cake for Breakfast experiment, you might have been worried (as I was) that if one is allowed to eat cake for breakfast, they might end up actually eating cake at every meal.  Makes sense, doesn't it?  That's sortof the general line we are sold, right?  We can't be trusted with cake!  We must restrict, punish, shame, and otherwise manage our terrible appetites by any means necessary!  I don't know about you, but when I believed this, and tried to follow the restriction "rules," I wound up eating entire boxes of pre-packaged, heavily processed, cake-like diet bars, trying desperately not to eat the cake,  before finally eating the stupid piece of cake already, plus the rest of the cake for good measure.  Can you believe my helpful diet mentality backfired?  Well, I can.  Because it's crap.

The truth is that the more I allow myself permission to eat cake, or whatever previously restricted or forbidden foods, the less I want these things.  I mean, really, once cake loses its bad-boy image, it just isn't that sexy anymore.  It is, after all, just cake.

So, now that I have made friends with cake, my taste for vegetables has finally resurfaced.  Go figure.  I was worried this might never happen, because after living on vegetables and spouted grain bread for such a long time, I was, honestly, kindof veg-d out.  Don't get me wrong, I've still been eating them, but mostly out of duty to myself (I feel like crap if I don't eat them), and because I don't want scurvy.

It is somewhat shocking how much pleasure I am finding in simple vegetables again.  They are delicious!  Way better than cake ... unless it's chocolate, of course.  Really, though, the point I am trying to make is that, whether it's peach cobbler or a kale salad,  I want to eat foods that taste good, and make my body feel good.  I am listening to my body for guidance, and, amazingly, it is providing. Yay! I am eating what my body is truly hungry for, and taking pleasure in it.  There is evidence that when we enjoy our food, we actually absorb more nutrients, and process it more efficiently.  We are happy, and our bodies are happy.  We are designed to take pleasure in eating, and when we do, we really do end up healthier.

When I first learned about this, I believed it... for other people.  Of course, my body couldn't be that smart!  I have been fighting with it for so long! My body was the enemy, always waiting to betray me with extra pounds, an insatiable appetite for cake, and shame around every corner.  So, when I say I am surprised to be making friends with cake and my body and vegetables, I mean it! 

So, in honor of health, wellness, and truly caring for one's body, I would like to share this delicious Kale recipe given to me by my awesome friend and nutritionist, Debbie Steinbock.

Steamed Kale "Salad" With Balsamic Chicken

1 bunch kale (stems removed, and torn into big pieces)
2 Handfuls of Walnuts
Several of your favorite salad veggies, chopped (ie, carrots, celery, cucumber, avocados, cherry tomatoes, etc.
1 1/2 lbs organic chicken

Balsamic Dressing/Marinade
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (white wine vinegar works well, too!)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil

1. Combine all ingredients for marinade and whisk well
2. Cut and clean chicken, and place in glass baking dish.  Drizzle with a few Tbsp of marinade, cover with foil, and place in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
4. Cook the chicken, covered, for 20 minutes, and then uncovered for 5-10 depending on thickness.  Move the chicken to higher shelf and broil for 3-5 minutes until slightly browned
5. While the chicken is cooking, cut and clean the kale by removing the thick middle stem, and tearing into small pieces.
6. Place the kale in a large pot with a small amount of water.  Steam until soft.  (A trick here is to wait until steam is coming out from under the lid of the pot - kale should be perfect!)
7.  Create a kale "salad" with the cooked kale leaves, topped with chopped veggies, walnuts, and chicken.  Drizzle with balsamic dressing to taste, and serve.

Here's to delicious, and nutritious, to enjoying your food and loving your body!

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