A Series of Salad Recipes: Kale Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts

Kale Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts

Kale Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts

Earlier this month I decided to do a series of posts on salads, in hopes of finding some good new salad recipes.

Now that you can easily find washed and shredded kale, this recipe is a breeze.  As long as you remember to soak the currants over night, that is.  I’m not a huge fan of kale, but this recipe has made me like it more than ever before.  Maybe now I’ll branch out into other kale salads.

Unlike most other “green” salads, this one is even better the next day. It’s a good choice if you are having company or want to make a big batch ahead and have a little each day.  The original recipe includes parmesan shavings, but I prefer the recipe without.  I’d rather add in shredded carrot or red cabbage for a little color.


Kale Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts (adapted from Bon Appétit)


  • 2 tablespoons dried currants
  • 5 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar


  • 12-16 oz package of pre-washed and shredded kale
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted


  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar from currants
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Place currants and 5 tbs of white balsamic vinegar in a bowl to soak over night.  Drain before proceeding, reserving 2 tbs for the dressing.

Put kale, currants and pine nuts in a large bowl.

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small box and mix until the honey is well incorporated. Pour over salad and let marinate at least 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Slightly Better-for-you Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

I am famous for my attempts to “healthify” recipes. I’m always cutting the sugar and butter amounts in half, substituting whole grain flour for white, and tossing in handfuls of wheat germ or flax seeds. The end results are often dry, flavorless hockey-puck-type concoctions that no one wants to eat. I then have to force-feed them to myself so I don’t waste all that good wheat germ.

I don’t know when I’ll learn that sometimes treats should stay treats. No one wants a sugar-free, chocolate-free chocolate chip cookie. Okay. I get it.

Having said all that, I will cop to cutting the sugar in these no-bake cookies in half—and the results are still teeth-achingly sweet! They probably set up a little better with more sugar, but the taste is just fine.

Less successful was my decision to use regular rolled oats instead of quick oats in this recipe. They are still edible; they’re just a bit more . . . chewy. Next time I should try subbing wheat germ and flax seeds for the oats. Yeah!


Peanut Butter Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

I first found a recipe for these in a magazine I subscribed to as a kid. I made them myself all the time, often eating up half the batch in one sitting.


1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups quick oats, uncooked
Waxed paper


Bring the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk to boil in a saucepan. Let boil for one minute. Add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. Drop the mixture by the teaspoon on a sheet of waxed paper and let cool until hardened. Keep refrigerated.


Slightly Healthier Puppy Chow

I’ve had Chex Mix before, but I hadn’t heard of Chex Puppy Chow until a few weeks ago. I was searching for something I could snack on while breastfeeding that would be sweet and tide me over between meals, but that wasn’t terribly unhealthy (like a plate of cookies, which is what I had been eating). I adapted this recipe from Undercover Mother after her version didn’t turn out for me.  This recipe, by the way, is gluten-free (as long as you use rice or corn chex) and can be made 100% organic.

Slightly Healthier Puppy ChowSlightly Healthier Puppy Chow

  • 1/4 Cup butter
  • 1 Cup creamy peanut butter (not the sweetened kind)
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 Cups Chex cereal (one small box, about 13 oz)
  • 1 Cup of Powdered Sugar or less if you don’t mind it being gooey

In an extra large microwave safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate together slowly (30 seconds at a time, stirring frequently so the chocolate doesn’t seize) until fully melted and smooth.

Add peanut butter and vanilla and stir until combined.

Begin mixing in the cereal, a little at a time and stirring it until each piece is thoroughly coated.

Dump cereal out onto two parchment lined baking sheets.  Use a metal strainer to sift the powdered sugar even over the two sheets, stirring frequently to ensure even coverage.

Let it cool on the sheets until it no longer looks wet.  If you’re concerned about the gooey-ness, keep dusting it with powdered sugar.

I know you must be shaking your head since my last post was about losing the extra weight I’m carrying around but hey, you try not to make this every week!

The Latest and Greatest in BPA-free Popsicle Molds

Summer kicked in early this year over here in Portland, Oregon. Short sleeve weather, in May? In Portland? That’s something to celebrate. Audrey and I knew exactly what we needed to do: make popsicles. I didn’t have any fruit juice, tofu, or spinach around, so I had to get creative. (Check out our strawberry and spinach popsicles and tofu fudgcicles if you dare.)

I whipped up some lemonade out of sugar, lemon juice concentrate, and water. I know I’m not going to win any dentists over with that concoction, but kids love it. We then dropped in some various frozen berries I’ve probably had in the freezer since 2008. We used our only fancy popsicle mold, which is something like these Push Pop containers ($25).

These popsicle molds are BPA-free, unlike our other 1980s molds. Our previous BPA-free popsicle mold posts get a lot of hits, so I thought I’d see what’s new on the scene in 2013.

Silicone Ice Pop Maker molds ($14.99). Fill them with smoothies, ice cream, spinach, whatever! These seem like an ingenious addition to our collection.


Onyx Stainless Steel popsicle molds. Wow. The Rolls Royce of popsicle molds at $34.99. A good choice if you’re avoiding plastic as much as possible. (I see I mentioned this one in my 2011 post, so I guess these aren’t really the newest popsicle mold on the block.)

Push-up pop containers in a heart shape for $24.95. Very cute. I can see using these around Valentine’s Day, too.

Zoku slow pops ($17.50) win the award for the most innovative popsicle mold. (This is not a real award. I just made that up.) These are adorable! I like the idea of mini pops for light eaters like my daughter, who never seems to finish an entire popsicle.

Now does anyone have the Zoku quick pop maker? It’s almost fifty dollars, but it makes popsicles in just minutes! Our neighbor has one and treats the kids to popsicles all the time. For serious popsicle fans.

Are you into the latest innovations in popsicle technology, or do you go for the toothpicks-in-ice trays method? Let us know where you stand!


Creative Food Recycling: From the bottom of the salsa jar to the table

When I was little, my mom used to make some weird casseroles out of leftovers. (I know my mom is going to read this and say, “I did that one time!” or “I never did that!” But I stand by my statement. I will say that she also made perfectly normal meals.) As a result of this traumatic childhood memory, I cannot advise throwing any old thing into a baking dish, pouring cream of mushroom soup over it, and baking it in a 350 degree oven.

However, learning to use up refrigerator odds and ends is an art you need to master if you want to be a carefree bohemian like me. Don’t make weird casseroles! Okay, sometimes you’ll have to make weird casseroles. Other times you’ll have to make chili out of hummus and old salsa.

This picture is blurry but you get the idea.

Here are some real ideas for using up all the food you buy or scavenge:

Old Tea—Brew up some iced tea using all those strange tea bags that have been languishing in the cupboard since the early 2000s. If it tastes bad, add a bunch of lemon juice and sugar. If that tastes bad, sorry. You are stuck drinking this, or perhaps freezing it into popsicle molds and forgetting about it.

End of hummus & the last bit of salsa—These, as I already mentioned, go into a big pot of chili that also includes beans, tomatoes, spices, and anything else that could conceivably be disguised in dim lighting. But don’t add corn! It is disgusting when people add corn to things.

Sour milk—Bake with it. Add a ½ teaspoon of baking soda if you do this. Use it in place of buttermilk in recipes. Yes, I know this offends our twenty-first century sensibilities. You’re going to have to do it. If you really hate it that much, you shouldn’t have let your milk go sour. You can freeze extra milk, you know! You can also re-pasteurize milk before it goes bad.

Leftover cooked oatmeal—First of all, try not to make more oatmeal than you plan to eat. But if you do, you can throw it into a batch of pancakes or muffins. It will probably work out.

I cook like this all this time, and guess what? People actually think I’m a pretty decent cook! What on paper sounds like a disgusting potpourri of leftovers can actually end up being a tasty dinner. I should start documenting my creative leftover strategies. New column!

Do you have creative uses for pantry castoffs? What are they? Let’s all make hotdog soup out of an old jar of mustard and a frozen veggie dog! Yeah!

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie: It’s What’s for Breakfast

For four sad years, I lived without a blender. Mine sat sad and broken in the cupboard.  I won’t lie—it was pretty tough. Sure, I had my immersion blender, food processor, and food mill to fill the void, but it just wasn’t the same. Then Andy took stock of the situation. He sent away for a $6 part and a week or so later, I was blending up a storm again.

My blender. Or one that looks just like it.

The broken–now fixed–part!

Shortly after this, the peanut butter banana smoothie entered my life. It is now my preferred breakfast, keeping me full and satisfied until noon or even one o’clock. It’s full of calcium, potassium, and more than 20 grams of protein. You’d have to eat four eggs to get the same protein punch from an omelet.

Here’s the recipe. You don’t really have to measure it out:


Peanut Butter and Banana High-Protein Breakfast Smoothie


Fill your blender with the following ingredients:

½ cup milk (4 g protein)

½ cup Greek yogurt (12 g protein)

1 tablespoon peanut butter or any nut butter (3.5 g protein)

1 tablespoon ground flax meal (1.5 g protein)

1-2 bananas (1.5 g protein)

Blend it up really well and pour into a pint jar. For some reason these are easier to clean out than my regular drinking glasses.

There are endless ways to modify the recipe. You may have noticed that it is naturally gluten-free. If you want to make it dairy-free, you could substitute almond or coconut milk for the regular milk and yogurt, though you’ll lose a lot of the protein. (Am I sounding obsessed with protein? I have been on a vegetarian diet for over twenty years and normally don’t feel too protein-deprived. I have found that this high-protein smoothie keeps me fuller longer than my lower-protein breakfasts with similar calorie counts.)

I have done a thorough analysis of Greek yogurt and regular yogurts to find the best one at the best price, but I’ll save that for another post.

What are your favorite smoothie recipes? Let me know in the comments!

Valentine’s Day Heart-shaped Scones

I am too lazy to come up with my own Valentine’s Day recipes this year, so I have decided to outsource it. Check out Gluten-free Gourmand’s gluten-free heart shaped scones with raspberry jam:

Aren’t these adorable? If you aren’t on a gluten-free diet, you can just substitute regular flour for the gluten-free flour and leave out the xanthan gum.

Also, you can make these Valentine’s Day treats without a heart-shaped cookie cutter, which is convenient for some people. I happen to have at least four different heart-shaped cookie cutters in my collection. Would it really crowd the kitchen too much to splurge on a nesting cookie cutter set?

Or better yet, this 3 piece hearts cutter set:

I’m now convinced I need to round out my collection with that ruffled one.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Do you make your own baby food?

I had visions of whirling up organic autumn blends of apples and squash for my babes. And I did, but not for every meal. I made huge batches of sweet potatoes and mashed bananas in my blender, froze them in ice cube trays, and then stored them in zip lock bags in the freezer. It was long process, but I loved reflecting on the fact that making baby food means saving about 90% over the cost of pre-made organic baby food and avoiding the environmental costs of packaging and processing. Still, working nearly full time, not getting enough sleep and having a relatively picky baby motivated to buy jars of organic baby food to save my sanity now and then.

Later, when Rebecca and I wrote, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Time and Money, I discovered (and included in the book) recipes for homemade teething biscuits and pumpkin pancakes. With my second child I got to try them out and she loved them, but I didn’t always have time to bake everything from scratch. And as we say in the book, it’s all about “progress, not perfection” so any effort was better than none!

Have you made your own baby food? What are some of your baby’s favorites? What is your favorite store-bought baby food?

Family Cookbook Christmas Gift Ideas

Somewhere in the midst of laundry, errands, and picky eaters, I have lost my love for preparing the family dinner. And yet I yearn for mealtime perfection…the image of my children eagerly crowding around steaming dishes of nourishment. Are simple, healthy family dinners even a possibility?

The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time is on my Christmas list. It’s packed with tips, recipes, anecdotes and green tips for a better family dinner. Somehow the fact that Laurie David (producer of An Inconvenient Truth) manages to keep her teenage children at the dinner table is inspiration enough for me.

Dinner: A Love Story is a lovely combination of reality and ideology. Jenny Rosenstarch chronicles how her and her husband make dinner a priority, no matter how crazy their family life becomes. The recipes she shares are tried and true and her voice is like that of a good friend, full of encouragement and lacking in judgement.

My other favorite, simply because the humor and tone immediately seem to lessen my meal-making angst, is One Bite Won’t Kill You, By Ann Hodgman. The reviews are fantastic and seem to imply that both adults and children have enjoyed recipes in this book. It looks like it just might be a success with my picky crew!

I know Deceptively Delicious is quite popular, but I didn’t have tremendous success with the recipes. The garbanzo bean chocolate chip cookies were a whole lot of work, and were rejected by everyone, including me. If you have younger children and are pureeing foods anyway for the baby, it might be worth the effort. Otherwise the pre-blending of cooked veggies seems unrealistic.

What is your go-to family cookbook? Thanks for your ideas!

Black Friday Giveaway: Win Gluten-free Flours from Gluten-free Gourmand

When company founder Gina Kelley (my sister!) started eating a strict gluten-free diet six years ago, all she really wanted was a good scone.  After a year of trial and error – and baking scones once a week or more – her No. 1 All-purpose Flour was born. She added more flours and baking mixes to her collection, and earlier this year she opened her flour production company: www.glutenfreegourmand.com.

Here we are in 2005. Why 2005? Because for some reason I could not find a more recent photo of the two of us. Back then, Gina (left) was contemplating joining the Gluten-free Lifestyle.

If you or your child can no longer eat wheat due to a diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you need to try these flours out. Everything is blended by hand and produced in small batches. I made my first attempt at gluten-free baking with Gina’s pastry flour for Thanksgiving: I whipped up my old standby, the all-American apple pie. I was nervous to try a wheatless flour, but I followed my favorite crust recipe and simply substituted Gina’s flour for the wheat flour.

It was a success! I had to add a little  more water than usual to the recipe, but it rolled out just fine, browned up nicely in the oven, and–most importantly–tasted delicious.

New to gluten-free baking? Try the pancake mix.

Starting today on the Green Baby Guide, you can enter to win two flour mixes of your choice! You can enter up to three times. Here are the three ways to enter:


  1. Post a comment telling us which two flour mixes you want. Here are the options: Bread Flour; No. 1 All-Purpose Flour; No. 2 Deluxe Pastry Flour; No. 3 Scone Mix; Rustic Boule Bread Mix; No. 6 Pizza Dough; and the No. 8 Pancake Mix.

    Gluten-free pizza!
  2. Visit the Gluten-free Gourmand’s blog or store. Come back here and leave another comment, telling us what caught your eye.

    This just in: the No. 7 Artisan Bread Flour. Make your own gluten-free sandwich bread.
  3. Like us on Facebook—or like the Gluten Free Gourmand on Facebook. Come back here and tell us you did it, and you’ll be entered again.

We’ll choose three winners on Friday, November 30th. U.S. addresses only, please. Good luck!