Swiss chard, Kale and Apple Saute aka “Yes, you can eat Kale and like it too”

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Stick with me, it really is good!

Spring and summer here in Michigan means leafy greens as far as the eye can see.  Greens are amazing for you.  They are nutritional workhorses that are low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  But am I the only one that thinks they taste kind of like grass?  I know that I need to eat these amazing things, so I need to make it tasty.

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We have been getting lots of kale and Swiss chard lately so I have been mixing them together.  In my opinion, chard is pretty “tame” and a much more delicate flavor.  Kale is the much “grassier” of the two.  I started throwing them together in this quick 10 minute side dish.

Ingredients:

  • Kale and chard – washed and torn into pieces
  • onion – about half a medium fresh onion or some sprinkles of dried
  • garlic – fresh, minced, dried (dealers choice)  I use about 3-4 cloves fresh
  • one medium apple, diced.  (I always leave peel on, fiber is our friend!)
  • oil of choice – I use coconut oil, just enough so things don’t stick, maybe a teaspoon or so

Directions:

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil.  When onions become translucent add the kale.  Saute until the kale begins to wilt.  Add the apple and the chard.  Saute until the apples are tender and the greens have wilted completely.  Sometimes if the greens are really stubborn I add a few teaspoons of water and cover the pan for a few minutes.  The steam will help break down the greens.

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Enjoy and pat yourself on the back for eating your greens!  The apple really helps break through the bitter taste that greens have, so it is a great way to introduce things like kale to your palate.

My recipe tasters give the following reviews:

Local Toddler – some days he eats it, some days he picks out and eats only the apples

Local Hubby – enjoys it (man of few words)

Local Dad – asks for more, encourages me to come over and make it more often

Local Mom – eats it, declares it tastes healthy

Real Food Kelly – besides kale chips, the only way I will eat kale!

Crisis Cooking: Veggie Lo mein

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Happy Meatless Monday real foodies!

Today I’m sharing a “recipe” that I use quite often on my crazy days.  I affectionately refer to those crazy days meals as “crisis cooking.”  Crisis cooking is when I realize we need to eat dinner in half an hour and I haven’t even thought about dinner yet.  I don’t know that I would call this a recipe per se; perhaps better terminology would be a guideline.

Veggie Lo-mein

pasta of choice, angel hair or other thin pasta works well but I used linguine noodles and my boys loved it.

contents of your vegetable drawer.  Really, you can add anything!  Dice/slice your veggies to be relatively the same size.  For the example pictured I used carrots, zucchini, green bell pepper and green beans

teriyaki sauce (or preferred sauce)  You can make your own teriyaki sauce by beefing up your soy sauce with some sugar, garlic and ginger but honestly I usually buy mine.  We really enjoy the Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce.

Directions:

Cook your pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is boiling, slice and dice your veggies.

Drain pasta in colander

Using the pot that cooked the pasta (I hate dishes), add a small amount of oil (enough to keep the veggies from sticking) and begin to saute the veggies at a medium-high heat.  Add teriyaki sauce to taste.  When veggies are tender, toss in pasta and serve.

Told you it wasn’t a recipe!  This is a great way to use up random veggies you have sitting around.  Even cabbage is great, just dice into small pieces!

I know this wasn’t a detailed “recipe” but as part of Real Food in a Real World my aim is to show how an average family eats.  This is a very typical Meatless Monday dinner around our house right now!

All About Asparagus

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I do love asparagus.  Here in Michigan, it is the first vegetable that hits the Farmers Market.  It’s usually the only vegetable being sold when the Farmers markets open for the season.

Storage

I’ve heard previously that one should store asparagus as you would flowers, as they are actually a derivative of the Lily family.  I have the best luck with my asparagus stored in a mug or jar with about in inch of water in the bottom.  Place the asparagus in the jar and cover with a plastic bag and your asparagus should stay nice and fresh.

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Selecting Asparagus

Asparagus is expensive.  It’s somewhat difficult to grow and has a very short season.  You will probably only see it at the farmers market for one or two weeks.  Look for nice firm green stalks.  The size actually has no bearing on taste, fat and thin stalks are equally tasty.  There are purple and white varieties as well, but they aren’t seen very often.

Preparation

I know spring has officially began when I make that first batch of fresh local asparagus.  My absolute favorite way to eat asparagus is roasted.  Either on the grill or in a hot oven (400-450 degrees)  Snap your ends off (the flat end, opposite the nice “flowered” end), wash carefully and dry.  Pour some sesame oil and sea salt over the spears and roast for 10 minutes or so, until your desired tenderness is achieved.  Any oil will get the job done, but toasted sesame oil is absolutely amazing for it.

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I would be remiss to talk about asparagus without discussing the smell. You know what smell I’m talking about, the infamous “asparagus pee” smell.

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I’m sure most of us know what I am talking about.  In short time after ingesting asparagus, many people will begin to excrete a very distinct aroma in their urine.  Here is where scientists aren’t exactly sure what happens next.  There seems to be two schools of thought.  The first is that everybody excretes the scent, but not everybody has the ability to smell it.  The second camp believes that some people are not able to smell, and some do not excrete.  The general consensus is that there is a genetic mutation that causes this difference.  I don’t see a lot of research into this, presumably because there are bigger scientific issues to research.

Asparagus is nutritious and delicious!  Go cook some up today, even if it makes your pee stinky!

Small Space Gardening, for Non-Gardeners

Small Space Gardening, for Non-Gardeners realfoodinarealworld.com

I am not a gardener!  I hope to eventually be one, but we can all safely assume that I am not one right now.  So, take all advice I am about to give you with a grain of salt.  The only real complaints about local and organic food are access and expense.  So, let’s try our hands at growing our own food!  At this very moment, I don’t have much space to grow food.  Fingers crossed, next year I will be a proud owner of a raised bed in this area:

Small Space Gardening, for Non-Gardeners realfoodinarealworld.com

We had a big old dying tree cut down, so we now have some sun in our yard!  We are starting with one raised bed, and will probably add one a year until we run out of sunny areas.

For right now, my only growing space is on the side of my house.  Here is a pic of my fancy garden:

Small Space Gardening, for Non-Gardeners realfoodinarealworld.com

In the pink container (dollar store) is some celery I’m regrowing from the base of an organic celery bunch.  Just cut the bottom off, place in water in a window and watch it grow!  I let it sit in the window (just add water every other day) for 2 or 3 weeks before planting into the container.

Small Space Gardening, for Non-Gardeners realfoodinarealworld.com

In the ground is two strawberry plants surrounded by marigolds.  I think this will eventually need some protection from the critters, so I need to think up something.

Small Space Gardening, for Non-Gardeners realfoodinarealworld.com

The two blue buckets are just five gallon buckets from Lowes.  Local hubby drilled a zillion holes in the bottom, filled them with pea gravel we stole from local toddlers gravel pit, and then planted a tomato and a bell pepper.

Small Space Gardening, for Non-Gardeners realfoodinarealworld.com

Local toddler was a big help this year, he did most of the dirt filling and planting.  He’s also a fantastic waterer.

Things I wanted to plant this year but didn’t get around to it: carrots, potatoes (I heard you can do them in a laundry basket, but you need straw) lettuce and some sort of leafy green (kale, chard, etc).  I ran out of pots and sunny patches.

My hope with this post is to show you that anybody can grow their own food.  You don’t need a lot of space, time or money.  Even if you live in an apartment with no outdoor area, you can at least grow some herbs on your windowsill.  Local toddler is having a blast tending to his plants, and he tells me the names of what he is watering.  I picked up organic garden soil and organic fertilizer at Lowes, and my local hardware store.

Go get your hands dirty!  I can’t wait to pick my first produce and serve it to my family!

Green Juice

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Today I’m bringing you a simple green juice recipe.  Except it really isn’t green, this one is purpleish.  In my world, I can call it a green juice if I put greens in it.  Juicing is one of the ways I use up odds and ends of veggies and fruit in the house.  Whatever I have too much of, goes into the juicer.  Great way to sneak in some things that I might not eat otherwise (I’m looking at you, beets).

So here is my “recipe” (Really just use whatever I have handy, but this is a guide)

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  • 3 leaves kale
  • one small beet with greens
  • half of a red bell pepper
  • one orange
  • one lemon
  • three pears (pears make it kind of thick, I usually use one or two apples but I needed to use these pears)
  • two stalks celery
  • 1/2 lb carrots (I had rainbow carrots, hence the purple juice)

Juice them up and you get this delightful looking mixture

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But it mixes up nicely and then your local toddler will beg for some

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And he won’t even make eye contact while he slurps it down.

Enjoy!

I’m currently using a cheap juicer I purchased from Aldi and re-running the pulp.  It’s fine for occasional juicing but I plan on upgrading when I have the money.  Some great options are this Breville juicer or this Omega one.  

Any Amazon links I post are probably Affiliate links, which means if you purchase that item via that link, Amazon will give me a few cents.  All product choices are made by me.)

Click here to learn more about juicing

Quick Tip: Freezing Celery

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Let’s talk celery.  You buy a big bunch with great intentions.  After a while, the celery starts to look a little sad.  You can wrap your celery in foil to make it last longer, but eventually, we have to give up the fight.

Or do we?

Save your celery my friends!

Now, according to every resource out there, celery needs to be blanched before freezing.  I’m sure if you feel like going down that path, it will work delightfully.  For me, freezing without blanching works just fine.  The only applications I use my frozen celery for are things like soups and stews.  If you were to need your frozen celery for any other purpose, you might find it to be too soft.

Wash and dry your celery.  Dice into slightly larger sections than you will need for the final destination.  Freeze on a baking sheet and then place into a zip top bag.

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Look at you, combating food waste and saving your celery!  You are a Real Food superhero!

Roasted Broccoli

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I like my veggies, but sometimes the same old thing can get mundane. I’m not a major foodie, I don’t put zest on things or have a very refined palate. However, I can still appreciate the differences that cooking methods make. Steamed broccoli is good, but roasted broccoli is a whole new level. It’s crazy easy, and oh so delicious.

Let’s Get Cooking!

Preheat your oven to 425

Wash the broccoli and cut into florets. Then dry until you can’t dry anymore. This will make all the difference between roasting and steaming. Roasting involves caramelization, and water will interfere with the process.

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Toss broccoli with your oil of choice (mmm, toasted sesame oil) and some garlic and onion

Lay florets on a cookie sheet covered in foil

Bake 10 minutes, stir/flip, and bake 10-15 more minutes

Keep an eye on them, you want nicely browned not charred.

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Consume. Probably all of it. It’s really good.