Apr 012013

Kale 3 Ways – Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce, Kale Basil Pesto and Quinoa Power Bowl

Quinoa Power Bowl

There was a certain time during our camping trip last week that I took my life into my own hands. I was in a stare down with a tired and hungry 4 year old after a day of sun and fun with no nap. I needed to whip up something fast and healthy because I had already busted her hiding under a pillow with marshmallows stuffed in her cheeks like a chipmunk with a third waiting to follow.  Needless to say she was not thrilled when I grabbed the lone remaining marshmallow.

I quickly set some water on to boil and pulled some brown rice noodles, nutritional yeast (nooch) and a jar of quality pasta sauce in the cupboard of my little teardrop shaped trailer and some kale from the mini fridge.  (What, that’s not normal camping fare?) With those ingredients I made a semi-homemade cheesy kale tomato sauce with a vegan twist by stirring in some nutritional yeast as I heated the sauce and then simmering some finely chopped kale right in the sauce to wilt it down nicely. Voila – it looked like normal pasta sauce but had lots of protein, vitamins and minerals.  Once I got home I simply had to create it from scratch. It was super simple to do and would be great over salad, tofu and tempeh, poured over baked dishes or anywhere sauce is used.  It’s rich and hearty and has a great balance of acidity, sweet and savory flavors.  After trying the sauce, my daughter ate at least a full cup of the made- from-scratch version.  I’d much rather see her cheeks fully of healthy sauce than marshmallows!

Kale and Nutritional Yeast

What is nutritional yeast? Find out here. And why all the kale? Kale is that powerful and vibrantly green plant that packs a huge nutrient punch. It is one of the sources of plant based calcium that is super absorbable and alkalizing. It also helps to lower cholesterol, fights inflammation and oxidative stress and has tons of vitamin K, A and C.

Quinoa Bowl and Fresh Pesto

The idea for the quinoa power bowl came from a breakfast dish I had recently at a local restaurant.  Their quinoa and kale is typically served with tomatoes, a creamy pesto, chicken and feta so I had to do lots of “leave this off please“.  I loved the idea, but there were way too many animal based foods in it.  I decided to nix the chicken, feta and creamy pesto and create a virgin olive oil based pesto with fresh garlic, kale and some of the Cheesy Kale Tomato sauce.  Wowza!  The fresh pesto really makes this dish pop. There is nothing like aromatic basil and garlic with a touch of salt; what a versatile recipe.  Here are some ideas of how to use pesto; use it as a spread for sandwiches, stir into soups, use it on pasta, top any vegetable or salad, make hummus or potato salad!

Time Crunched?

If you don’t have time to make the sauce from scratch but want to try your hand at the quinoa power bowl, simply do what I did the first time – purchase your favorite store bought brand, heat and stir in 2 cups kale and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast.  No time even for that? Open a can of fire roasted tomatoes, drain and use in place of tomato sauce on the Quinoa Bowl.

Another time saving tip.

There are many delicious store bought versions of pesto.  Simply purchase one and add a tbsp to each plate.

Have some extra time to make all three?  Here is a handy grocery list.

Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce

Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce

Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce (Vegan)

Basic sauce recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
Makes about 5 cups
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 dried bay leave, crushed
4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
3 (14.5 oz) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
3/4 tsp sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp agave
2 cups finely chopped kale
1/4 cup nutritional yeast


1. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stock pot.  Add onion, saute until translucent, about two minutes; add garlic, saute n additional minute.  Add carrot and saute about 5 minutes. Add bay, basil, tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer covered on low heat for 30 minutes.

2. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until semi-smooth or to desired texture.  Alternatively; process the sauce in a food processor until smooth; stir in agave.

3. Add kale and simmer an additional 20 minutes.

4. Stir in nutritional yeast; and taste to check seasoning.

**If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

Kale Basil Pesto

Kale Basil Pesto

Kale Basil Pesto

Makes about 1/2 cup
Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe



1/2 cup chopped kale
Handful fresh basil
3 cloves fresh garlic
2 Tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup vegetable broth


1. Blend all ingredients in a magic bullet or blender.


Quinoa Power Bowl

Quinoa Power Bowl

Quinoa Power Bowl with Tomato Sauce, Kale and Basil Pesto

Inspired by First Watch
Serves 4 (plus extra quinoa for another use)
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 cup dry quinoa
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
4 cups chopped kale
2 cups Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce (or sub store bought tomato sauce of choice)
1/2 cup Kale Basil Pesto (or sub store bought pesto of choice)


1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer; heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium stock pan; add quinoa, onion and 2 cloves garlic to heated oil; toast by stirring about 3 minutes; add 1/4 tsp salt and vegetable broth; cover and simmer 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, covered and let sit 5 minutes. (Makes 4 cups. Reserve 2 cups for recipe and set aside 2 cups for another use.)

2. Heat second Tbsp olive oil in pot originally used for quinoa; add kale and 1/4 sea salt and second 2 cloves garlic.  Saute until wilted; about 5 minutes.

3. Place 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/4 kale mixture; 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1 Tbsp pesto on each of four plates. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

**I have been making quesadillas with my leftover quinoa – delicious!

Nutrition Information

Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce (Vegan)

Kale Basil Pesto

Quinoa Power Bowl with Tomato Sauce, Kale and Basil Pesto (For the quinoa and kale only.) 
Kale 3 Ways – Cheesy Kale Tomato Sauce, Kale Basil Pesto and Quinoa Power Bowl

Jun 062012
Florida Coastal Cooking
Welcome back to Wine Down Wednesday where I review a vegan dish paired with two different wines from Broadbent Selections.
 To pair wines with a meatless dish we must look at the spices and main flavors of the recipe.
In this case we look at the rich, ripe tomato and roasted garlic.

The rating info:

Category #1 – How well my dish turned out.
Category #2 – How well I like the wine.
Category #3 – Pairing notes – How well this wine pairs with the dish.

Rating Scale

Bleck -This wine is pretty bad.
Ho Hum- I could drink it if I was at a football game and there was nothing else in the cooler.
Nice -Good table wine. I would keep this in the wine cooler if it was a good value.
Yum – This is good, I would pay a fair bit more and have it for a special occasion.
Damn that’s Good – Self explanatory.
** We will use the same terminology for how the dish turned out and how well it paired.

Category #1 The Dish

Rating of Yum

I chose this Rustic Roasted Tomato Soup when my friend Melanie, a fellow KYV Farm member, posted photos of her version of tomato soup on facebook.  Thanks for the idea Melanie!

Fresh tomatoes are one of the best things about summer – they taste best warmed by the sun and straight from the vine.  The ones I used were no exception as they were directly from local farms, Wendy’s Organic Herbs and KYV Farm.
One thing I learned with this recipe is that it takes a lot of fresh tomatoes to make a tomato soup.
1 lb fresh = about 4.7 oz or 1 cup cooked so you’ll need two full pounds.  This versatile soup would also would be awesomeover pasta or in any instance you would use a tomato sauce.  I left out the oil because I felt it just didn’t need it.  Keeping it simple, only a little salt, let the tomatoes do the talking.

Category #2 The Wines
Casa Ferreirinha, Esteva Douro 2010, Portugal rating of YUM
Casa Ferreirinha, Esteva Douro 2010, Portugal
Ferreira is known as “the Portuguese Brand” due to the high quality and recognition.  After one taste I could see why; this wine was smooth and silky and had lots of fruit.  The deep, rich color was beautiful.  I drank the wine only a bit chilled, to about 60 degrees and it was the perfect red for drinking on the patio.

Musar Jeune Rose, 2010, Lebanon Rating of YUM
Musar Jeune Rose, 2010, Lebanon


Possibly because my new favorite wine is a dry rose, I found this one very appealing.  It was light and refreshing – I tasted raspberry and strawberry.  Perfectly drinkable for the heat of summer.

Category #3 The Pairing
Casa Ferreirinha, Esteva Douro 2010, Portugal rating of YUM
This wine goes well with richer meat based dishes, dinner salads and pasta so pairing it with this tomato based soup and roasted garlic was a perfect match.  In fact, the wine made this soup seem luxurious and filling, though in reality it is actually very light.

Musar Jeune Rose, 2010, Lebanon Rating of Damn That’s Good
As I said in the review above, this dish IS very light.  If you are having a tapas party and this is one of your choices, or you just want a light lunch, this rose is a perfect pairing.  It will highlight that sweet fresh taste of the ripe tomatoes and remind you of summer.  Mouthwatering!

 Where to buy
All the wines will be for sale locally at the Grotto in San Marco. You can contact Mitch Woodlief, grottomitch@aol.com with questions and pricing and anyone outside the Greater Jacksonville area can contact E-MAIL: info@broadbent.com PHONE: US +1 415-931-1725.
If you are a Mila lover, or want to try and aren’t sure how to eat it, this is the perfect solution.  I simply mixed my serving of 2 Tbsp into my dish, stirred and enjoyed.  It did change the texture a bit by making it thicker, but the taste of the Mila is so mild that the tomato still shone through.
Mila has tons of Omega 3’s, fiber, calcium, iron and all kinds of other goodies.  Try it for yourself by clicking here. 
Rustic Roasted Tomato Soup

Rustic Roasted Tomato Soup

Rustic Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup
Serves 4 1/2 cup servings
Vegan, Gluten Free


2 lbs of  fresh tomatoes, skin left on, quartered (I used KYV Farm and Wendy’s Organic Herbs) This will cook down to about 2 cups.
1 bulb garlic
2 onions, sliced (I used KYV Farm)
Salt, to taste
2 cups vegetable broth (salt free, such as Vivian’s)

Fresh basil for garnish (I used Wendy’s Organic Herbs)
Fresh toasted bread of choice (Gluten free, if gluten allergy)
8 Tbsp Mila


1. Preheat oven to 375.  Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray; add tomatoes, onions and sprinkle with salt.  Cut the top of the garlic off and wrap in foil; add to one of the baking sheets with tomatoes. Bake 1 hour.

2. Heat broth in medium pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer.  Add roasted tomatoes, onions and 3 cloves of the roasted garlic, reserving the rest for another use.  Cook 1 minute.  Using an immersion blender, pulse until just combined.  Stir in 2 Tbsp Mila per soup bowl if desired, and top with fresh basil.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 42.3
Total Fat 0.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 593.1 mg
Potassium 323.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 9.5 g
Dietary Fiber 2.0 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Protein 1.6 g

Vitamin A 14.1 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 8.2 %
Vitamin C 24.3 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.4 %
Calcium 1.8 %
Copper 5.7 %
Folate 6.2 %
Iron 3.6 %
Magnesium 4.3 %
Manganese 10.6 %
Niacin 3.9 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.4 %
Phosphorus 4.4 %
Riboflavin 3.8 %
Selenium 1.4 %
Thiamin 5.9 %
Zinc 1.4 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Jan 032012

Goodbye 2011, you were a good year. 
Let’s see…..I gave up meat and most dairy (that is a work in progress), hosted a farm to table dinner and held a Free Range Yoga workshop at the farm, went on LOTS of campouts, trips to St. Augustine, took an amazing trip to the Keys and finally, am at a point where I’m comfortable with myself.  For one, I don’t step on the scale every day any more, I don’t record every bite, and I’ve lost weight and feel better than ever.  After trying every diet in the book, I have finally settled into the aforementioned meat and dairy free diet.  I’ll admit I thought I was going to be tired, but I have more energy than ever.  In fact, on New Years I didn’t get to bed until 3AM!  I used to have to drink 5 Hour Energy and sugar Free Red Bull just to say awake until 11:00.
One of the biggest challenges was (is) not cutting meat from my diet, but how the people around me reacted and the availability of animal free foods at social events and during travel.  I can’t say how many times I’ve been told it is unhealthy to not eat meat and been asked how I get my protein and calcium. I have learned to still participate in social events but to bring along something delicious that everyone can eat and to not make a big deal about my abstention from meat.
For the New Years Eve party I attended, I decided to make a pesto with the fresh Meyer lemons that my friend Gregg brought me to yoga that morning and I paired it with herbs straight from my garden.  As “dippers” I skewered a small tomato, a bit of fresh beet green and broccoli-both fresh from the farm.  For the folks that weren’t into the “salad on a stick”, a loaf of sliced Cuban bread and a whole grain baguette were on the side as well.  It turned out so well I am going to make another batch for a dressing and sandwich spread.
As for my 2012 New Years Resolutions….. I finally settled on two.
  1. Meditate daily
  2. Stay in the present moment
A BIG, HUGE thanks to everyone that has visited my site, supported me, tried my recipes and even introduced themselves to me when I’m out and about.  It is so fun to meet some of the folks that actually read my posts!  I love, love, LOVE every comment, suggestion and insight.
So THANK YOU and I look forward to the new year!
Now tell me…..what are your resolutions this year?
Fresh Meyer Lemon Pesto with Tomato, Beet Green and Broccoli Skewers
Inspired by Epicurious
Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free
2 packed cups of fresh herbs, I used basil, oregano, chives and parsley.
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp coarse ground mustard
Zest and juice of one fresh Meyer lemon
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
For the skewers
1 pint grape tomatoes
4 fresh beet greens, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
1 large head broccoli
  1. Add herbs through lemon zest and juice to a food processor or blender and pulse to chop finely; slowly stream in the olive oil until blended. Season with salt and pepper, taste and re-season if necessary.
  2. For skewers, thread one tomato, a rolled bit of beet green and a broccoli floret onto a toothpick.
Dec 222011
I will admit there are days I look in my fridge and no inspiration comes.
Ha who are we kidding, that’s almost every day.
But yesterday, inspiration struck in the form of parchment paper packets.  I found the basic recipe in Clean Eating, but chose to use my dad’s fresh caught fish and the seasonal veggies I got from my CSA.  It was so easy that I’ll be doing a lot more packets going forward-even veggie only ones. 
Mind you, they weren’t pretty-between the over stuffing of fresh veggies, the light coconut oil separating/not coming out smooth and then leaking out the sides, and finally, the ends….at the last minute I asked myself what the heck I was going to secure the ends with. I could have used toothpicks possibly, and I couldn’t find paperclips, so I went with safety pins. Very resourceful, I felt.
Even with a few mishaps, the result was completely mouth watering.
The steam from the packets produced tender veggies and flavorful fish without lots of fat and calories.  So grab yourself some parchment paper and get cookin!
Florida Coconut Curry Thai Fish Packets
Inspired by Clean Eating, Jan/Feb issue, Amy’s Thai Style Coconut Curry Hailbut Packets
Serves 4


4 40z fillets of white fish of choice (I used fresh caught flounder my dad caught.)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 14oz can light coconut milk
½ red onion, thinly sliced
Handful yum yum peppers, sliced (or 1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and chopped)
1 large head broccoli, crown chopped and stem sliced
2 cups snow peas
1 bunch green onions, chopped (extra reserved for garnish)
½ cup basil, torn
½ cup chopped fresh culantro or cilantro
1 lime, sliced
1 tsp curry powder
red pepper flakes, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut four 15 inch squares of parchment paper.
  2. Lay each fillet on a piece of parchment paper and season with salt and pepper. Pour half the coconut milk over fillets, divided evenly.
  3. Layer red onion through red pepper flakes.  Pour remainder of coconut milk over top, dividing evenly over fillets.
  4. Fold top and secure ends. (All I had was a few safety pins.)
  5. Cook 15 to 17 minutes until the fish is opaque.
  6. Open packets and slide onto plate.
Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 242.1
Total Fat 5.1 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Cholesterol 46.5 mg
Sodium 160.8 mg
Potassium 1,346.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 14.9 g
Dietary Fiber 6.9 g
Sugars 3.0 g
Protein 36.5 g

Vitamin A 86.2 %
Vitamin B-12 25.9 %
Vitamin B-6 42.3 %
Vitamin C 332.9 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 22.2 %
Calcium 29.4 %
Copper 7.7 %
Folate 34.5 %
Iron 18.5 %
Magnesium 43.0 %
Manganese 27.2 %
Niacin 47.8 %
Pantothenic Acid 14.8 %
Phosphorus 44.8 %
Riboflavin 19.5 %
Selenium 82.6 %
Thiamin 14.0 %
Zinc 9.6 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

May 302011


There is still one more day to leave a comment to win a Table for Two!  Click here for details.
Hypothetically speaking you could be invited to a BBQ today and be asked to bring a salad or “whatever is easy”.
Brain wracking ensues to be sure that you, the food blogger that you are, brings something sufficiently impressive in order to fulfill the group expectations (or maybe it is simply your own expectations that you are placing on the group).
You decide on using some of the white and purple eggplant from your last farm share thinking about what a perfect conversation piece it would be. 
Typically you would just slice it, coat it with olive oil and seasoning and grill it. But nooooo this time you decide to slice it and coat it in salt because that is what you’re supposed to do with eggplant.  They all say so.  You aren’t actually sure who “they” is though.
Said eggplant drains of water and juices for several hours and then is laboriously rinsed of salt and dried with paper towels, then each piece is sprayed with oil and placed on a preheated grill and checked intermittently.  Each time the pieces looking drier and drier and when one piece is sampled it is very….salty.  So you decide that instead of making the eggplant the centerpiece of the entire salad, layered with fresh heirloom tomato and topped with aromatic organic basil from your garden and some fresh mozzarella, maybe you will continue to grill the eggplant slices on low heat until they become chips.  For several more hours.
Once the eggplant slices are done drying and turning into gray chip-like forms you taste them and they are then overly salty and horrible, you toss the entire thing and come up with plan B. 
You spend five minutes slicing some tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, throw it over some spinach with some pre-chopped sun dried tomatoes and make your go-to balsamic dressing that you make for everything.  Seven minutes later (in total) you’re done and everyone raves about the salad.
You think…why did I not just make the spinach salad in the first place instead of trying to get all fancy?
May you have a happy Memorial Day and I leave you with a piece of hypothetical advice, just skip plan A all together and go right to B.
Spinach Caprese Salad with Sun Dried Tomato and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 8


8 cups fresh organic baby spinach
4 small tomatoes, sliced
1 8oz pkg fresh, part skim mozzarella, sliced then torn into smaller bite size peices
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil and drained well
1 bunch fresh basil, chiffonade cut
Coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Dressing (not pictured)
3 Tbsp good quality balsamic
3 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp coarse ground mustard
Coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste


1. Layer in a large bowl spinach, half the tomatoes, half the basil and half the sun dried tomato; top with mozzarella, add the remaining tomatoes, basil and sun dried tomato. Season with fresh ground pepper and salt, to taste.

2. Whisk dressing ingredients.  Pour over salad when ready to serve.


Nutrition Facts
8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 84
Total Fat 4.7 g
Saturated Fat 2.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 16.4 mg
Sodium 210.8 mg
Potassium 259.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 3.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.9 g
Sugars 0.8 g
Protein 8.0 g
Vitamin A 61.5 %
Vitamin B-12 3.9 %
Vitamin B-6 4.4 %
Vitamin C 15.9 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 3.5 %
Calcium 21.7 %
Copper 3.8 %
Folate 15.8 %
Iron 6.0 %
Magnesium 8.7 %
Manganese 16.2 %
Niacin 2.1 %
Pantothenic Acid     0.9 %
Phosphorus     15.3 %
Riboflavin 9.0 %
Selenium 6.4 %
Thiamin 2.6 %
Zinc 6.6 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


Nutrition Facts
8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 58.4
Total Fat 5.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 66.4 mg
Potassium 1.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 2.9 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Sugars 2.9 g
Protein 0.0 g