Crunchy Kale and Nut Salad

If you live in New York, this past weekend you were most likely stuck indoors due to the snow. This past weekend during the blizzard, I was supposed to be teaching my first donation-based yoga class, but that just wasn’t going to happen due to the weather, so my yoga class has been rescheduled for next month. If you read my last post about yoga, you know how excited I am about teaching this class! Getting back to being stuck inside, one of my favorite ways to pass the time when stuck inside is to cook. Or in my case, un-cook. I love kale and I especially love kale salads. The following kale salad will satisfy a crunchy craving and supply a good dose of healthy fats and fiber. It’s vegan, and if you use gluten-free soy sauce (tamari or shoyu) it can also be gluten free.

Crunchy Kale and Nut Salad FullSizeRender-14

Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish, 2 if served as a main dish)

Salad

  • 4-5 cups kale, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 a cucumber, diced
  • 1 carrot, shaved into slices or diced
  • 1/2 cup slivered raw almonds

Dressing (makes several servings, refrigerate and save remaining dressing)

  • 1/4 cup tahini (hulled sesame paste, can be found at most health food stores)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp. water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

 

Directions

  • For the salad, cut veggies and set kale in a large bowl. Massage olive oil onto kale using your hands so that the kale becomes softened. Add veggies and slivered almonds.
  • For the dressing, measure and whisk together ingredients in a large bowl until uniform. Add 4 tablespoons of the dressing to the salad and mix with a large spoon. There will be a large amount of dressing leftover. Store the remaining dressing in a sealed cup or bowl and use within a few days.
  • Share with friends and enjoy!

 

-Jess

Updates & a Green Juice Recipe!

Hello Readers! I’ve been so busy with classes but I realized I haven’t posted in almost two weeks, so I’m making this post a combination of some personal updates and a green juice recipe. It’s the end of the semester for me, so these past few weeks have been all about school and trying to focus on that aspect of my life. Another exciting thing for me is that I got a juicer! I already have a blender and I make smoothies with it, but now that I have a juicer it opens up a whole new arena for creativity in the kitchen, plus an excellent way to add even more nutrition to my diet. Although many people swear by juice fasts and juice cleanses, I’m not taking that approach, and instead I’m adding juice to my diet as an additional source of fruits and veggies.

The recipe below is my first juice that I made using some fruits and veggies that were already in my fridge. What’s fun about making juice is that you can get creative and experiment and learn what fruits and veggies go together, and which definitely don’t. Luckily, my first attempt went well.

 

Jess’s First Juice

2 stalks of celery

2 kiwis

1/4 of a head of broccoli

1 cup kale

an orange

I used a wide-mouth juicer and got about 12 ounces from this recipe. It packs a huge amount of vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and phytonutrients, so drink up and enjoy!

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Keep checking back soon for more recipes, updates, and nutrition news!

 

-Jess

Eating For Two: What You Should Know

a photo from my nutrition textbook, "Wardlaw's Persepctives in Nutrition" by  Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, Gaile Moe, Donna Beshgetoor, and Jacqueline Berning.

a photo from my nutrition textbook, “Wardlaw’s Persepctives in Nutrition” by Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, Gaile Moe, Donna Beshgetoor, and Jacqueline Berning.

 

This week in one of my nutrition classes, we covered nutrition during pregnancy. Although I am in no way, shape, or form pregnant, nutrition during that particular life stage has always interested me. If you think about it, everything a mother eats is directly forming the future health of her child, so to say nutrition is important during this time would be an understatement. Although many expecting moms believe they can eat whatever they want during this time, only about 300-400 extra calories are needed, and where these calories are coming from is something to keep in mind. It’s better to eat an extra snack or two of yogurt and granola, or a larger portion of high-quality protein, like a lean cut of steak, than to gorge on cheesecake and chocolate just because you’re “eating for two”.

Another particularly interesting thing that we learned is how weight gain during pregnancy influences the developing baby. In the 50’s and 60’s, women were advised to not gain much weight, and it actually ended up being detrimental to their kids. Restricting calories during pregnancy can actually turn on a “thrifty” gene in the baby, which basically means that child is going to metabolize calories in such a way that makes it very difficult to lose weight. Because the baby’s body learns food is a limited resource, they will hold on to fat stores and are more likely to be obese as adults. Some doctors are now advising that pregnant moms who are already obese at the start of pregnancy to not gain any weight at all, and this is a very hot topic of debate. Weight loss during pregnancy is extremely dangerous for the child, because the body starts burning fat and ketones are released. When this happens, the baby is exposed to these ketones and it can be harmful to their developing brains. In fact, babies born to mothers who are in ketosis (the fat-burning process) have been shown to have lower IQs (see the article linked below for more info). In my opinion, women who are pregnant should not become obsessive about their weight, and instead focus on eating a really healthy diet based on fruits, veggies, lean protein, dairy or dairy-alternatives, essential fatty acids (omega 6’s and omega 3’s), and legumes/nuts. Exercise also has so many benefits, especially during pregnancy, but always check with your doctor on whether it’s appropriate.

Besides weight concerns, there are several vitamins and minerals that are essential during pregnancy. Iron, which is often low in women as it is, helps form the blood supply of the baby and you may want to have your levels checked if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Calcium is also taken from your body during pregnancy in order to supply the baby’s bones with this mineral, so supplementing with calcium, or upping your intake of calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, low-fat milk, and enriched dairy alternatives may be helpful. Folate, or folic acid, is another essential vitamin that forms the neural tube of the baby. Deficiencies in this vitamin result in neural tube defects, like spina bifida, so it’s imperative that you have good sources in your diet. Good sources of folate include leafy green veggies, black beans, and whole grains, or products made with whole grains.

There are so many nutritional concerns during pregnancy that are way beyond the scope of this blog, so if you’re pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or just want to have the best nutritional plan for your future, be sure to consult with a Registered Dietitian and your doctor about what you can do to ensure you’re being the healthiest you can.

For more info on the debate on obese mothers and weight gain, as mentioned above,  see this article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/health/15obese.html

As always, take care!

-Jess