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)

directions

  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!

an almost vegan cardamom coconut cream pie

A cardamom coconut cream pie made with cashews - a healthier version of your holiday favorite. | This Brown Kitchen

Happy Thanksgiving week, y’all! While Christmas is my favorite holiday when it comes to all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it, Thanksgiving reigns supreme in the food department. All the menu planning and table setting gets me so excited that the holidays have arrived and really just brings me so much joy. What are y’all eating this year? I’m keeping it simple this go around, sticking to the classics (i.e. mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce) while leaving room to experiment with some more fun recipes come Christmas dinner. Honestly I’m just here for the mashed potatoes. I could dive into a cloud of potatoes and be the happiest person around – I mean, what’s not to love about buttery and fluffy potatoes? Since I’m in charge of all the cooking, that also means I’m tasting and nibbling at things all day long. My brother has caught me multiple times over the years eating spoonfuls of the mash during the day before dinner. I just love them so much!!! 

A couple people have asked me how I handle the holidays and times of indulgence since I stick to a pretty healthy regimen the rest of the year. Honestly, I am such a huge #treatyoself proponent and that’s the mindset I use when it comes to holiday treats. I mean obviously don’t eat a thousand Christmas cookies and then wonder why you feel like garbage, but eat a cookie here and there, add those marshmallows to your holiday party cocoa, serve yourself a little bigger piece of pie if you want it. I really do think life is all about the balance, and one day of indulgent eating for the holiday isn’t going to ruin your life, especially if you don’t eat those things on a regular basis. Just get back on track after and understand what your body needs to feel its best. I hate feeling like I can’t have something, so when someone offers me a little holiday treat I take it, being mindful of when my body actually wants and needs something and when I need to cool it and serve up a kale salad. 

A healthier coconut cream pie made with cardamom, coconut, and cashews. | This Brown Kitchen

This lightened up cardamom and coconut cream pie is what holiday dreams are made of. | This Brown Kitchen

This lightened up cardamom and coconut cream pie is what holiday dreams are made of. | This Brown Kitchen

So speaking of balance, this is where this pie comes in. It’s a Coconut Cardamom Cream Pie with a Pecan and Coconut Crust. OMG. I’m not usually one for lightening up foods for the holidays, those recipes never turn out quite as good, but I figured I give it a shot when it comes to dessert. I feel like dessert is easier to lighten up and retain the taste and flavor than the main course. Agree or disagree???

Since I have the biggest sweet tooth in all the land, I wanted to see if it was possible to create a holiday pie that was slightly healthier so I could indulge more. LOL. And this guy was a winner on all fronts. There are a few places where you might notice the healthy swap outs, namely the crust, but it’s still a delicious and not too sweet dessert that satisfies that itch for sweetness. I love all things coconut, and there’s basically coconut in all layers going on here. The base is actually rendered with cashews, similar to a cashew cheesecake, but it’s creamier and lighter thanks to the coconunt milk that keeps it from getting too solid like some of those vegan cheesecake recipes I’ve tried. And that cardamom?? Don’t even get me started. It’s one of my favorite spices that has one of those subtle sweet and floral flavor to it and it’s just so perfect for this time of year. You could use cardamom powder here, but I think having the little broken pieces of fresh cardamom seeds make this pie so much more delicious. As for the crust, I kept it simple with shredded coconut and pecans pulsed in a food processor with a little coconut oil. You could try your hand at a graham cracker crust or a date-based crust if you are a fan of those little fruits (I am NOT – so I didn’t use dates here). This is also an ALMOST vegan pie if you left off the whipped cream, so at least your vegan friends could have a yummy pie at the holiday too. If you either left out the whipped cream (which would be sad) or subbed in coconut whipped cream – which I heard Trader Joe’s carries now?? – then you’ve got yourself a vegan coconut cream pie. You can tell it’s healthier than the original, but in a good way.

Now what are you doing? Go gather the ingredients and get to baking (I mean refrigerating? Because this is a no-bake pie!). Happy Thanksgiving!!

This lightened up cardamom and coconut cream pie is what holiday dreams are made of. | This Brown Kitchen

A cardamom coconut cream pie made with cashews - a healthier version of your holiday favorite. | This Brown Kitchen

A cardamom coconut cream pie made with cashews - a healthier version of your holiday favorite. | This Brown KitchenA cardamom coconut cream pie made with cashews - a healthier version of your holiday favorite. | This Brown Kitchen

A healthier version of your favorite coconut cream pie - made with cashews, coconut, and cardamom. | This Brown Kitchen  A healthier coconut cream pie made with cardamom, coconut, and cashews. | This Brown Kitchen


coconut cardamom cream pie

time – overnight + 30 minutes prep       yield – 1 pie

ingredients ::

for the crust –
2 cups of pecan halves
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons of coconut oil

for the filling –
2 cups of cashews, soaked overnight/at least 8 hours
1 18oz can of coconut water (I used this brand)
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
separated cream from two cans of coconut milk**
seeds from about 4 – 5 cardamom pods (about a teaspoon or so)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

directions ::

  1. measure 2 cups of cashews into a large bowl and cover with water. set aside and let sit overnight, at least 8 hours.
  2. add the coconut water and sugar into a stovetop pot and bring up to a simmer over medium-high heat. reduce the coconut water to about half the amount until it’s slightly syrupy, about 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (it won’t be as syrupy as a simple syrup)
  3. while the syrup is cooking, prep the crust. In a food processor, add the pecans and coconut flakes. Pulse until they start to come together. Add the coconut oil and continue to pulse until the mix is crumble-y in texture. The mix should come together and hold slightly when pressed in your hands. Add additional coconut oil if necessary. 
  4. in a 10″ pie dish, press the crust mix into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides. Place in the fridge to set for about 15 minutes while preparing the filling.
  5. rinse the cashews and add to a high power blender with the coconut water syrup, coconut milk cream**, cardamom seeds, vanilla, and salt. blend on high until smooth, tasting and adjusting cardamom and vanilla flavor as desired.
  6. grab the pie crust from the fridge and pour the filling in. Spread the top out evenly and place in the fridge to set overnight until it holds its shape.
  7. to serve, top with whipped cream (homemade or store bought) and toasted coconut flakes. Enjoy!

**Ashlae from Oh Lady Cakes has a whole post on how to get this coconut cream from a can. Check out the post on how to get that perfect separation so you can use delicious coconut cream in your recipes.