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the best kale salad ever

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No offense to collard greens, black eyed peas and cornbread, but after this recipe I’m starting my own New Year’s meal tradition. I may have even just found my favorite recipe for 2015. Seems a little early to be making that call… but I really don’t care. This is SO. GOOD.

If nothing else, this is definitely my new favorite way to eat kale. Ever had a tired jaw from chewing… and chewing… and chewing raw kale? I have. Well fear not. This dressing tenderizes the leaves giving them the perfect texture (slightly crisp but not soggy), and an amazing tangy-sweet-garlicky flavor. Yum. Combine that with savory roasted sweet potatoes, toasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds, spicy garlic roasted chick peas, and the subtle sweetness of pears, and you’ll be trading in the collard greens too.

I’m sure there’s another reason this recipe tastes so good; my body has been craving this food. After weeks of being out of my normal routine… traveling to see family for Christmas, flying to see friends for New Year’s, sleeping in different places, eating foods I don’t normally eat (and more than I normally eat), getting less exercise than usual… oh yes, this meal was right on time. Yesterday was the first day I’ve spent at home in a couple weeks. I slept in, then immediately went to the grocery store and bought every vegetable I could fit in my cart. After getting home (and sleeping some more), I chopped and roasted and toasted until I felt right again.

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I added roasted mushrooms, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts… just for good measure.

 

Although I’m starting the new year feeling totally spent (with jeans that are a tad snug), I wouldn’t trade the past few weeks for anything. It’s the best time I’ve ever had during the holidays. For one thing, I got to see my little sister and brother-in-law who live in Germany, and it’s been over two years since we were all together. I’ll keep this brief so I don’t cry (well too late), but being so far away from them for so long is tough. They are so much fun to be around, and my sis is my best friend. We get each other in that way sisters do, and it meant so much to me to feel that instant bond with her as soon as we laid eyes on each other. I really needed that, and I’m so grateful for the time we had. Especially for the night my brother, sister and I all cooked dinner together, just us three. It was pretty dang special.

Another highlight was staying up late watching House of Cards on Netflix with my mom and brother, all curled up in her king size bed in our PJs, eating my brother’s homemade cheesecake with cool whip and spoons. Yeah, that happened. A couple days later my dad and I went for a long run on the Riverwalk. I felt like that kind of made up for the cheesecake incident, but more importantly it was good “dad time,” and I always love that. The week was topped off with an annual brunch with my oldest and best friends from back home. This year we had a couple of cute little additions, which made it feel different, but even better.

For New Year’s I flew to Austin to visit my old stomping grounds and see some of my favorite people. On New Year’s Eve, a friend suggested that we each recognize something that had meant a lot to us that year. When it was my turn, I said that I’ve grown in appreciation. I feel a much deeper gratitude for people and experiences in my life. I know this because there was a time I didn’t feel it much, when I didn’t feel much of anything. Now when I’m with the people who mean the most to me, I feel our connection in my heart, and I’m so thankful to have it. It reminds me that my heart is open now, and it motivates me to keep it that way.

I hope each of you had a wonderful New Year. If anything meaningful from last year jumps out in your mind please share with us. I usually try not to make resolutions… but I think I’m gonna make one (oh geez), and that is to post more often. It makes my heart happy to share.

On to the “best kale salad ever”…

Ingredients:

1. 1 bunch of organic kale, washed, leaves removed from stems.

2. 1 medium sweet potato, sliced into wedges

3. 1 pear, sliced

4. 1/2 cup raw walnuts

5. 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

6. 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and patted dry

7. Sriracha hot sauce (optional)

8. olive oil

For the dressing:

2 Tb olive oil

1 Tb apple cider vinegar

1 Tb balsamic vinegar

1 tsp agave syrup

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp lemon juice

Steps:

  • preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper
  • whisk together dressing ingredients in a bowl
  • chop kale leaves until finely shredded in very small pieces
  • pour dressing over kale in large bowl, use hands to coat well and massage into leaves
  • coat sweet potato wedges lightly in olive oil, spread evenly on baking sheet
  • coat chick peas lightly in olive oil and Sriracha hot sauce, add to pan with sweet potatoes, roast for about 20 minutes, until potatoes slightly browned
  • in medium sauce pan, toast walnuts and pumpkin seeds in 1 Tb olive oil for 5-10 minutes, careful not to burn
  • Toss roasted sweet potato, chick peas, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and pear with kale and serve

Makes enough for 4-6 people

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