Monday, 28 July 2014

Kale convert

There are very few foods that I do not like.  But when I don't like a food, I really, properly do not like it. At all.

I can count on one hand the foods that fall into this category (that I know of so far):

- Parsley
- Anchovies
- Kale
- Crab
- Whitebait
- Sardines
(there's a small evil fishy theme here)
- and weirdly, cream cakes (not strictly 'food' as such in the cleanest terms but can be eaten nonethless!) or anything involving starchy white things alongside sweet red things, ergo jam sandwiches.  I know, I did say it was weird but I can handle not liking this manky stuff. It just gives me an instant headache and makes me go all woozy and whatnot.

I've also just noticed that either I can't count or I have a deformed hand with rather more fingers than it should have.

The point is, I like most things apart from the above.

Or so I thought.

Turns out my taste buds, my attitude, my sense of adventure or my willingness to challenge convention and the stories I've made about myself based on previous experience, has changed.

I now regularly use parsley in dishes, in fact it's now my herb of choice for freshening things up.  I've eaten crab twice in the last week...I just fancied it, and it didn't kill me (although the smell nearly knocked Alex out, he's not budging on his absolute distaste for any form of seafood).

And I now absolutely love, adore and worship the ground kale, um, grows in.  For something that looks just so green and vegetabley, it's so so tasty. It has its own natural saltiness somehow. And it is unbelievably and ridiculously good for you in so many reasons it's almost impossible to list them. It's basically a very super, superfood.

I think the thing with kale, and parsley actually, and broccoli before them, is that my opinion of them had been formed by 1970s and 1980s style cooking of them - ie boil them to within an inch of their life (and beyond).

I remember a particularly harrowing kale experience where a giant, curly, spiky lump of the stuff got stuck in my throat and threatened to kill me. Ish.  It wasn't nice anyway and I've never forgiven it. Until now, armed with the proper knowledge and skills as to how to actually cook and use it properly.

Tonight's dinner was a case in point.

I'd saved a recipe for warm quinoa and kale salad to my pinterest board a while ago from MindBodyGreen that I wanted to try and having been out all day and eaten a fairly large lunch quite late on, I realised I had all the ingredients so decided to give it a go.

The full recipe is here and to avoid any kind of copyright I won't re-post.

I fully intended to stick to the recipe religiously for once but alas, my tahini had seen better days (mostly prehistoric days judging by the use by date and the state of it) so I adapted a little and used some houmous I had in the fridge in the dressing instead.  Not ideal as it was shop bought rather than home made but life is too short sometimes...anyway I couldn't make my own due to aforementioned tahini sitch.

Another thing that appealed about this salad was the quinoa, of which I am a huge fan.  For any quinoa virgins, it's keen-wa, not kwinowa, and is a sort of peruvian protein packed grain thing that is super easy to cook, yummy to eat and general all round fab and versatile meal base.  It's also gluten free and doesn't seem to bloat me out like couscous etc.

If you're interested, check out my Quinoa Queen post for some tips on cooking the perfect quinoa.

So, the verdict.  It was delicious.  It really packed a punch on the flavour side of things. The houmous and tamari (a kind of wheat free soy sauce) dressing was really rich, musky and tangy, it reminded me a little of miso. The kale had a lovely nutty flavour from the coconut oil and the avocado on top added a light freshness to it all.  I was careful to only cook the kale until it was wilted to retain the crispness and bright green-ness of it which also helped.  The recipe said to season with salt and pepper but I didn't bother as I didn't think it needed it at all.

So, we've decided to add this to our staples and might experiment with a few different varieties or toppings.

Quinoa Queen

I love quinoa. It's true.

If you ask my friends to name a dish I cook, they will all tell you (whilst laughing), couscous.  I rather over did the whole couscous thing in my twenties. It was just so easy and versatile.

For me, quinoa is the new couscous with the added benefit of being gluten free, more tasty, lighter and appears not to bloat me out like couscous did.

My mum and brother often refer to the 'gravel' I like to eat. They are referring, in the most part, to quinoa.  Although I may write a gravel themed post another day about all my other gravelly bits and bobs.  Anyway, I managed to get some quinoa into mum's trolley the other day, even if it was the pre-cooked variety.  Really since quinoa is SO easy to cook there's no need to buy it pre-packed, just added chemicals and whatnot, but needs must sometimes.

Anyway, it's essentially a protein packed peruvian super grain and is super easy to cook, very tasty and very versatile.

For any quinoa virgins, the first thing to know is that it's keenwa, rather than kwinoa.

If you fancy giving it a go, some handy cooking tips to make you into a quinoa queen (or king!):

1. Defo rinse it first.  I hate steps like that, adds boringness into the whole thing but it does make a difference to the taste

2 .Use 1 part quinoa to 1.75 parts water

3. Slow boil with lid on until all the water is soaked up - look out for when the little grains have sort of popped out into spirally twirly this picture.

4. You can add olive oil, salt, lemon juice, stock etc to the cooking bit if you want some added flavour

5. When the water's all soaked up, stick a bit of kitchen roll over the pan and put the lid back on and then be patient for another 5-10 minutes...this last bit of steaming makes it really nice and fluffy

6. You can use it in salads, soups, instead of rice and all sorts.

6. Make too much, then use the rest cold in salads OR as an alternative to porridge with almond or coconut milk, nuts, banana and maple syrup the next morning. DELICIOUS.


Rise and shine

Over the years I've got myself into a little morning ritual. I don't really know how long I've been doing it or why I started but everything I read tells me it's a super good thing that I'm doing.

And here it is. Every morning, before I eat or drink anything else, I first of all down about half a pint of water that's sitting on my bed stand from the night before (I canNOT go to bed without a drink and think anybody who does is just weird - maybe that's just me. Mmm). In fact, side note, I also can't understand people who don't drink water and then claim not to like water!?!?  Actually, that's pretty much half my family. I'm always ranting at my mum and brother to drink more water. I just don't get it. What's not to like? It's just, well, water and probably the single most important thing to put in our bodies in order to not actually shrivel up and die. I feel yuk if I don't drink water and even yukker if I drink fizzy sugary things instead. Anyway, that was my water rant - drink it!

Back to the main point, the other thing I do every morning is have a cup of hot water (there it is again) with fresh lemon squeezed into it. 

It sort if just wakes me up. Because lemons are so fab it also wakes up my digestive system, (especially before anything else gets dumped in there), it flushes out toxins, looks after my liver, blood, eyes and skin and gets some vit c in early doors. It's also antibacterial, antiseptic and anti inflammatory. A.MAZE.ING. 

I met this lovely lady in Maidenhead recently who is a big lemon fan and has written a gorgeous looking book The Lemon Compendium if you fancy more lemony tips!