my favorite kale salad + whole30

The best kale salad I've ever made and some thoughts on whole30. | This Brown Kitchen

The best kale salad I've ever made and some thoughts on whole30. | This Brown Kitchen

So if you’ve been following me on Instagram you know that I’m partaking in (modified) whole30 again this January. I adjust the rules for my little vegetarian self and let myself eat lentils and beans throughout the week as a way to make sure I’m getting enough calories and eating hearty meals through the day. I did whole30 last January as well with a couple good friends, and I have to say, this go-around has been so much easier. Here’s why :: while I saw great results from my reset last year, I went into the 30 days with the wrong goals and mindset. Clearly I wanted to see huge results from whole30 my first go-around and went into it with the goal of losing a few of those holiday pounds we all put on because hello cookies!! I also spent the entire month thinking of all the foods I was missing out on and counting down the days until I could eat pizza and ice cream again, checking off each salad and smoothie I ate as something I was just ticking the box on until I got back to my favorite sugar-filled treats. It was miserable.

This go-around has been much different because my mindset is different. I’ve been really thoughtful about the foods I’m eating, listening to when my body is telling me it’s hungry and nourishing it with real foods. I’m not thinking about all the things I’m missing and instead refocusing on how great I feel through the process. I’m not being too hard on myself with all the little details (like I don’t care about the vanilla rule, or the snacking rule, and I accidentally got a chai from the coffee shop the other day only to realize there was honey in it). The one rule that got me from last year was the one that mentions, if you mess up and eat something you shouldn’t, you have to start your 30 days over again. So, if I mess up in life, do I start my whole life over again? No. My mindset this go-around has been all about using these 30 days as a reset but also as a way to find sustainable ways to incorporate small and health-focused  changes into my everyday life even after these 30 days are over. I don’t want it to be – oh I finished whole30 and now I can eat pizza and bagels and ice cream all day errydayyyyy – no. While I love that I can eat those foods every once in a while as a treat, I want to create a sustainable meal process for myself in 2018 that will let me see the effects after 365 days, not just 30. Are you doing whole30 or some other reset this month? What are your thoughts? How do you feel? What are you wanting to accomplish from it?

The best kale salad I've ever made and some thoughts on whole30. | This Brown Kitchen

The best kale salad I've ever made and some thoughts on whole30. | This Brown Kitchen

Aside from whole30 things, I’m finally back in Sacramento after a whopping 50 days back in Texas and it feels really great. I feel like I have a routine and a space that is my very own, and it feels like my little home. I’m even finally getting around to putting up a gallery wall in my living room and adding those few finishing touches that really complete the space. It only took me 6 months lol. This last week I got together with a few of the wonderful people who have welcomed me with open arms into their little community here in town, spent some time over coffee with Shannon who is literally creates the dreamiest floral designs ever, read this book and had a bookclub about this book, and even started clearing out my closet to get ahead of spring cleaning. Also, I’ve been eating A LOT of this salad.

While I’m sure you’ve had a lot of kale salads, you have to try this combo. ALSO. This tip I have is v important. So kale has this kind of bitter taste to it even after you wash and massage it right? Here’s what you do. 

  1. Wash the kale.
  2. Massage the kale.
  3. Chop the kale.
  4. Wash the kale. AGAIN.

That’s right, you wash it twice! First wash it to get rid of any dirt, and then work out all the bitterness with the massage and chopping, and wash it the second time to wash away those bitter juices you just worked out of it. It’s kinda genius and if you already knew about it you should’ve told me sooner! I literally have been keeping a huge bowl of this salad in the fridge all week and then serving up as needed – it lasts about 3 days fully dressed in the fridge because kale is so hearty which is amazing. So here ya go, my first recipe of 2018 :: a salad. Because of course. (:

The best kale salad I've ever made and some thoughts on whole30. | This Brown Kitchen

The best kale salad I've ever made and some thoughts on whole30. | This Brown Kitchen

kale salad and orange lemon dressing

4 servings      time – 10 minutes prep

ingredients ::

for the dressing

juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
1 tsp honey
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
pinch of red pepper flakes

for the salad

1 bunch of lacinto kale, prepped and chopped
1 gala apple, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
3 – 4 scoops of cranberries
sliced radishes (optional)


  1. prep the dressing and pour into a resealable container. store for up to 1 week in the fridge.
  2. add all of the salad ingredients into a large salad bowl. toss with desired amount of dressing.
  3. serve. enjoy!

here’s to 2018

I’m writing this from my bed on New Year’s Eve while watching New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. I have a pile of clothes sitting in the corner, a bunch of items I need to pack before heading back to California on Tuesday, and I just wrapped up my meal plan layout for Whole30 in my #bujo. It’s a far cry from last year’s New Year’s Eve celebration and not what I had initially planned to do tonight, but this is exactly what I needed. I was supposed to go to Austin to celebrate with the same group I had celebrated with last year – but instead chose to spend one of my last nights in Texas here at home. 

As I reflect over this last year, there are many things that I realize I have learned – most important of which, is learning to prioritize my feelings and taking the action I need to ensure I’m feeling my best. I had a brief conversation about this with my bestie and she put it best when she mentioned how important it is to evaluate and make decisions for yourself and to realize that it’s not a selfish thing to do because in all reality, you’re the only one who can and will do that for yourself. Learning to make decisions in my best interest when it comes to my wellness and how I’m feeling was the greatest takeaway I have from 2017. Through all the ups and downs of the year, I’m almost proud of myself (if that’s the right term?) for learning to understand what I need from myself.

So let’s look back at what my “intentions” were for 2017 ::

learn how to watercolor (and do it well.) — travel more, lots more — become a morning person. — be more mindful of what I eat, talk about cliché. — devote more time to this space – create better content and share more good food with y’all. — spend more time volunteering. any ideas you’ve liked?

Did I meet my intentions? Well, I did watercolor. Not as much as I said I would but I did! I did travel!! A whole lot actually. I failed at becoming a morning person. I did begin to be more mindful of the things I ate. I ended up devoting a lot more time to this space and saw my brand start to grow which was exciting. I didn’t really spend more time volunteering. I should be better about that. 

So aside from my intentions, 2017 was a year of change. Like, a lot of it. I got a new job, moved from Minneapolis, the city I came to know as a second home, to Sacramento, CA. I don’t think I ever thought I would end up in California, let alone Sacramento, and yet in July I moved yet again across the country to a city where I knew no one – yet ended up meeting some of the most amazing people who welcomed me into their city with open arms.

I traveled a lot this year – visited Chicago, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Sonoma, Napa Valley, Reno, Los Angeles, South Bend, Austin, Malibu, and lots of teeny tiny cities in between. I plan to add to this list tenfold in 2018.

My Minneapolis roommate got married, and my best friend got engaged!! Her wedding will surely be a highlight of the new year.

I worked with a lot of really cool brands in 2017 and learned so much about food photography and styling. I got my own column on Camille Styles! I’ve gotten to work with Alicia on Cheetah is the New Black!! I’ve met so many Instagram friends IRL!!!

Suruchi Avasthi | This Brown Kitchen

Suruchi Avasthi | Cheetah is the New Black

After looking back and taking account, it’s time to look forward, so here are my intentions for 2018 ::

  1. Continue to prioritize my wellness – taking time for myself when needed, being mindful of the food I eat, and caring of myself, inside and out.
  2. Focus on my yoga practice – this is something that was super easy to do when I was living in Minneapolis where I had a yoga studio. I haven’t found one in Sacramento yet so I’m practicing at home which has been harder than I thought.
  3. Dream big, but take action – there are a lot of things I have on my list of things to do – things I want to create, people I’d love to work with, places to visit and things to try. Keep adding to that list, but start taking tangible actions to actually accomplish those things.
  4. Read more, watch less –  There are so many books on my reading list, newspaper and magazines piling up on my table, and most nights I just default to watching re-runs of shows I’ve already seen. I want to consume more media – but more intelligent and thoughtful media.
  5. Strengthen your relationships, but grow new ones too – I’m one of those people who has a very small group of people (I love that saying that goes something like, be able to count the people you can count on, on one hand), and I want to invest in those relationships, but also make time to invest in new relationships too.

I feel like this list will take me into 2018 with some great ideas and things to keep top of mind. I’ll be printing these out and sticking them above my desk so I see them everyday and am reminded of the things I want to improve on so I actually do them.

What are y’alls intentions this year? 

I want to also take this chance to say thank you for following along with my adventures in food and wellness. I’ve been lucky enough to see my brand grow over the course of 2017 and I’ve learned a lot from this last year. You’ve all taught me a lot and have helped guide me along the way, and for that I could never thank you enough. I ended up taking a little poll over on Instagram this weekend with questions about what y’all want to see more of, so I’ve got some great stuff planned for 2018 and I’m so excited about it!

Thanks for everything you beautiful humans, and here’s to a wonderful 2018.

xx S

this list

a beautiful tablescape with cheetah is the new black

Hello from Minneapolis! I know, I was just here less than two weeks ago – but I’m back again for work and boy has the weather has gotten even colder in that short amount of time. (I even packed my heavier winter coats just so I would have an excuse to wear them this year!)

While in town, I’m also getting to catch up with some of my favorite people that I didn’t catch on my last trip and I am so excited! I know it’s only been 4 months since I left, but when you leave a city that has come to feel like home, leaving the people that made it feel that way is even harder. Speaking of home, in just another week and a half I’ll be back in the best state ever – TEXAS. I’m going to be spending 48 whole days in the Lone Star State over the holidays. The last time I spent that much time at home was three years ago for summer vacay – isn’t that so crazy?? I’m hoping that I can really deck out my parents house with all the holiday trimmings and be my most festive self. YAY for the holiday season! (:

Hope y’all have a wonderful week, and here are some of my favorite links from this past month from around the web ::

I did a juice cleanse! Can’t wait to share my hilarious recount of all the thoughts I had during those 3 days.

How 5 successful women start their workdays. My kinda morning inspo.

I shared a recipe for Pumpkin Chickpea Curry on Camille Styles and it’s now a new fave in my dinner rotation.

Loved getting to put together this amazing cheeseboard for a chic and spooky dinner party set-up (pictured above – get more deets!)

This illustration is the sweetest.

I need a slice (or two!) of this chocolate coconut pumpkin bread ASAP.

31 ideas to feel better for when you’re having a bad day – my go-to idea is to organize everything!

This might just be the cutest way to cook pumpkins this season.

Already planning for Thanksgiving dinner – this recipe might make an appearance as a side dish.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I’m still searching for the perfect pie recipe to try, what’s your favorite?