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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

C is for Coconut, K is for Kale

 I have never been into fads. Fashion-wise, I have always been a jeans-t-shirt-classic-pieces kind of girl, rather than the latest So Hot Right Now!!! (but not in 5 minutes) disposable fashion: I have not, nor will I ever own a pair of harem pants.
 So it follows that it takes me a while to jump onto the latest foodie gimmick - whether its a cooking style (hello sous vide), an ingredient (well, chipotle and I are friends now) or superfood. I need to read about it in several different places, maybe see it used in a few recipes and perhaps have a friend chat about their experiences before I'll feel brave enough to buy some and give it a trial. Quinoa and I started this way: I had heard rumblings about this gluten-free-grain-that-wasn't-a-grain that everyone had difficulty pronouncing. I started very slowly by using it in a salad, before graduating to fritters and porridge (which I now LOVE). So it makes sense that it has taken me this long to get around to using kale.

Yes, I know, its the latest superfood!!! Its high in anti-oxidants and has heaps of vitamins and minerals and stuff!!! It's SO versatile!!! (maybe its the enthusiasm that actually put me off, I mean it looks like curly parsley on steroids, how can it be THAT amazing?) But finally, there were a flurry of recipes in a couple of Delicious magazines that were cook worthy, so I grabbed a bunch of kale and got into it.

"It doesn't LOOK that super..."

 The first recipe was a "Ribollita with Italian Meatballs", which is a Tuscan "stoup" - lots of veges in stock with some meatballs to give it some oomph. The original recipe used cavolo nero, but I thought one green was as good as another and so used kale. This is a good way to use kale (or other winter leafy green) as when you cook it in the stock, all the nutrients stay in the dish (said the intro to the recipe). And it certainly did taste like a big bowl of goodness - nice and thick and hearty for the middle of Melbourne winter.

 (no picture I'm sorry - we ate it too quickly)

 Continuing with the soup theme was a "Chicken and Kale soup", which apart from having shredded kale through the dish, also had the chicken cooked in coconut oil (more on that later) as well as almond meal stirred through. Which did make for an interesting consistency, but again tasted quite nice.

"Cloudy with a chance of Kale"
 Probably not as hearty as the ribollita, but then it had about half of the ingredients. But a nice way to use up the kale. We were now down to two thirds of a bunch. Have I mentioned yet that a little goes a long way??

 While the soup was simmering, I gave Kale Chips a try. This was something that I knew had given kale its popularity - a healthy substitute for potato chips!! And so quick and easy - just rub in a bit of olive oil and pop them in an oven, These were "Spicy Kale Chips" and so had garlic, cumin and chilli mixed in with the oil. Quite yummy, but I did have my oven a bit hot (or got distracted and left them in too long) so half of them were a super crisp dark purple color and not very appetizing looking (so again, no picture, though the chickens loved them).  I will try them again with more attention to the details.

 The weekend rolled around and I came down to Hubby making brekkie of scrambled eggs, which reminded me that there were lots of uses for kale in breakfast dishes (which is good as I still had just under half a bunch in my fridge). I was planning on doing kale in scrambled eggs, but realised that didn't have quite enough eggs to make it for everyone. So I switched to what I am christening "Green, Eggs and Ham" (well, bacon). Fry up a few rashers of bacon, then saute your shredded kale in the bacon fat (soooo healthy) and fry an egg.

"Healthy" fry up
 Pop it all on a piece of toast (with avocado or aioli or whatever) and voila!
I DO like these Green. Eggs and (Bacon)Ham

 So that has been my Kale adventures so far, and I still have about a quarter of a bunch left to use. Hmm - might have to google some more receipes.

 The next Superfood to enter my pantry is coconut oil. Again, I had been hearing about it here and there (It's great to cook with as it has a high smoke point!!! Its full of healthy fats!!!... and you can look up the rest, there are lots of very long lists), but it wasn't until I has some falafel that my no-dairy-gluten-soy-and-generally-super-healthy friend had cooked in coconut oil was I convinced to try it (it gave them a delicious slightly nutty taste). AND after another friend gave me a jar of oil to try (before I buy!... bought), I had to give it a go.
 First up was cooking our Sunday morning pancakes, which was a perfect use as it didn't get burnt (like butter) when I left in in the pan too long (to get juice, cut up a pancake for Son 2, more syrup for Son 1...), and the subtle coconut flavour went really well with the maple syrup. I then used it as the "vegetable oil" in my standard muffin recipe (instead of the sunflower oil I usually use), and threw in a handful of shredded coconut and before I knew it I had banana coconut muffins! Quite yum. and very moist too.

 And amidst all the reading about how awesome coconut oil is, I read that coconut milk also shares a lot of similar health benefits. Which is great as I love using it in thai food; it always makes curries and laksas taste so decadent. But they suggested using it to cook quinoa porridge (instead of the soy milk I had been using. I'm not lactose intolerant, I just don't like the taste of milk) - which I did. And it was Ah-mazing!! So yummy and nutty and creamy - it didn't taste like it should be that good for you but it was! I know some people will say "Fat is fat and you should watch your intake" but I am a fan of the Good Fat, which is why I always found it hard to stick to low-fat diets in my younger days. Now I try to limit refined sugar but happily munch on nuts and avocado and cheese and I can seem to stay on track diet-wise.

 So I am happy to add these new foods to my pantry and fridge and will keep an eye out for the next foodie fad to come sweeping our way. But I think I will be sidestepping the edible insects craze, no matter how much I hear about it!


  1. I love Kale, I feel so smug when I eat it. But I don't want to eat it every night for a week, which is what happens when I buy a bunch... it never ends! So this week I bought a bag (I know, shame) of baby Kale. Winning!

    1. A Bag of Kale?!?!? I must source this!! Who knew something so good would go so (annoyingly) far