I’m horrible with diets. Tell me I can’t eat something and I’ll crave it ferociously. Earlier this year my husband and I decided we would give up meat for Lent. I lasted five days.
I dieted seriously only once before. It was after a six-month stint in Mexico, where I ate tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner and made monthly pilgrimages to Texas to devour the delights of Whataburger. So upon returning home to Taiwan I ate only fruit for breakfast, half a whole-wheat tuna sandwich and raw vegetables for lunch—followed by the exact same thing for dinner. It took a month of that diet combined with daily weighted runs up the eleven flights of stairs to our apartment to erase the damage. But that was when I was 18, intensely motivated by my severe lack of self-confidence and the desire to quiet the snarky comments about my ass.
Now that I’m just a smidge older (ahem) my priorities have changed. I don’t care what bitchy women think of my size, or whether or not a guy finds me attractive (my hubby is locked into thinking it… or at least lying about it FOREVER) but now I’ve got new issues to deal with, namely my health.
Sadly, what our parents threatened is in fact true: as you get older you can’t eat like you did as a teenager without negative consequences. But the other side of the spectrum—only eating turkey breast, brown rice & steamed vegetables is no way to live either. So I’m attempting to mitigate the damage my favorite foods might be doing by throwing them together with “super foods”.
This autumn I’ve been particularly enamored with kale. Raw, sautéed, or added to soup—I love it all. On a recent Sunday after yet another afternoon spent at FedEx field watching disappointing Redskins football we returned home heads hung low & arms cradling a bucket of leftover Popeyes fried chicken. Ten years ago I would’ve devoured the leftover chicken while watching the late night game (who am I kidding, two years ago I would’ve done that) but my newly accepted reality inspired me to throw together this healthy salad which turned out to be a surprisingly delicious compromise.
I am hopeful that the combined vitamin power from a kale, almonds, flax and chia seeds turn this dinner into a super meal capable of undoing (almost) any damage from the fried chicken.
5 kale leaves (any variety)
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 Tbs. champagne vinegar
1 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. honey
4 Tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 pieces leftover fried chicken
1 Tbs. almond slivers
2 tsp. flax seeds*
2 tsp. chia seeds*
½ Fuji apple (a handful of dried cranberries would also work beautifully)
- Remove the thick stem from the kale leaves. You can cut it out or simply tear it out. Stack the stem-free leaves and cut into thin strips.
- Mix the garlic, vinegar, mustard and honey in a bowl. Add the oil and mix to incorporate. Taste and adjust the vinaigrette to your liking. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Dress the kale, mixing the salad with your hands so that it is evenly dressed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- If you are using cold leftover chicken reheat it in an oven set to 350° until warmed through. Remove and tear the meat and skin up into bite size chunks.
- Put the almonds, chia and flax seeds in a skillet over medium heat. Toast gently, tossing frequently until the almonds are fragrant and golden. Set aside
- Cut the apple half into 4 pieces. Remove the core and peel (if desired). Slice thinly.
- Assemble the salad by tossing all the ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
*Flax and chia seeds can be found in the bulk section of Whole Foods grocery stores.
I love it–the good and the bad all in one dish. I think this is an excellent way to eat well but still feel like you’re indulging a little bit. Kale is wonderful, isn’t it. The other night I sauteed dinosaur kale together with savoy cabbage (and lots of garlic). Delicious!
It took me a long to come around to trying kale (I think because it wasn’t available in East Asia & thus I wasn’t familiar with it) but now it’s a real favorite. I add it to vegetable stocks as well, superb! I have yet to try it with savoy cabbage and garlic but I can already tell that I’ll love it.