How Did Kale Become Their Favorite?

06/28
2012

Last week, one of my friends asked my kids what their favorite meal was and all three of the boys, without missing a beat, said in unison, kale and spaghetti.  Not only did I swell with pride, I mostly swelled with laughter.  How could I have raised children whose favorite meal has kale as the main ingredient?  I didn’t even know what kale was a year ago and certainly couldn’t have anticipated it would hold such an esteemed position in our household.  Healthier eating (I first wrote “healthy” but I didn’t want you to get the false impression that we never scarf down a bag kettle chips) is definitely one of the blessings that food allergy has brought into our lives.

Kale is a form of cabbage from the family Brassica oleracea.  This family has in it many sibling vegetables including brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower - all unexpected crowd-pleasers (more recipes to follow). When I ran across a recipe a couple of months ago with kale, I thought maybe I should try this kale stuff everyone was raving about.  I would try to transform it into a top 8 allergen-free recipe.  Sometimes this works and other times, it is an epic fail.  By the time I switched the wheat noodles to gluten-free noodles, took out the parmesan and the pine nuts, I realized that I had to basically start completely over.  It was in the starting over that I created this recipe that is now a quick, tasty, healthy family favorite.  I hope that you will see why!

Kale Spaghetti

3 TBSP olive oil

Salt

Pepper

1 bunch of organic kale

1 pint of cherry tomatoes

4 garlic cloves

12-ounce bag of gluten-free spaghetti (or any gluten-free pasta)

In a large pan, heat up 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  When the oil is warm, add in 4 – 6 cloves of crushed garlic.  Let the crushed garlic warm but not brown.

Take 1 small container of cherry tomatoes and cut each tomato into 2 or 4 pieces.  Add the tomatoes to the oil and garlic.  Let the mixture heat up and as it does, smash the tomatoes down with a masher or a fork to get some of the juices out.

This makes a tomato/garlic/oil puree.  Season this puree with salt and black pepper to taste.

After cleaning one bunch of kale, tear the kale into small pieces.  Do not use the middle vein, just the leafy part.  Put one handful of kale into the pan at a time.  As the leaves wilt, you will have more space to add the remainder of the kale.  When all of the kale has been added, place a lid over the pan for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  This will flavor the kale well and also make the kale and the tomatoes less tough to eat.

In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and prepare your favorite gluten-free spaghetti (we are using Tinkyada organic brown rice spaghetti).  Feel free to substitute with whatever brand or shape of pasta that you so desire.  Once the spaghetti is ready, you can either serve the pasta with a spoonful of the kale/tomato mixture on top or you can put the spaghetti in the pan with the kale, toss and serve.

I made this twice last week, upon request, which was awesome because it is very quick and easy to make.  I had some left over kale so two nights after this photo was taken, I asked them if I could make it again.  Yeah, I was pushing my luck… Enjoy!

 

SAFETY NOTE:  Although this recipe is meant to be top eight (cow’s milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish) allergen-free, I cannot guarantee that all of the products that I have used will remain top eight allergen-free.  I encourage you to always read food labels thoroughly each and every time you use a product as ingredients and manufacturing practices may change without warning. Please omit and/or substitute any ingredients that are unsafe for you or your family members for ingredients that are safe.  If you need help finding substitutions, please let me know and I will do my best to help.  If you have questions about whether a particular food is safe for you or your family members, please contact your physician.

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37 Responses to How Did Kale Become Their Favorite?

  1. Jennifer says:

    I love this post. I just had the conversation with my sisters and mom about how allergies have forced us into healthy eating. We eat fresh, from scratch foods…to the point where if we eat something processed, my husband and I suffer for the rest of the day. While my friends complain about the lunches at school, it’s kind of nice to be in control of my daughter’s lunches. Granted, I wish they didn’t suffer from food allergies, but if you have to look on the bright side, healthy eating at home is a great thing. We love kale too!

    • Sarah says:

      Jennifer,
      That is exactly how we feel! As long as we have to deal with food allergies, we might as well find the bright spots about it and eating healthier is a huge one! Thank you for reading and for your comment and I hope you like the recipe!
      Sarah

      • rebecca says:

        That is exactly how we feel too. People are always asking me what I feed my kids since we have so many allergies and my reply is that we eat lots of home cooked, fresh, and healthy foods. The ones that we should all eat instead of the processed junk on store shelves.

        • Sarah says:

          Rebecca,
          That drives me crazy when people say, “What can he eat?” in front of him! We are happy to list all of the healthy, whole food we eat though! I just don’t like when it sounds as if we have lost so much. We like to see it as a gain… of nutritious foods that we may never have otherwise tried. Thank you for reading and your comment!
          Sarah

  2. Tori says:

    Wow! That looks delicious. I’m definitely going to try this recipe! I’m growing this beautiful kale in my garden & have no idea what to do with it! I thought I would add it to smoothies because I knew it had great health benefits but I always say, “Next time, I’ll add kale.” I just bought cherry tomatoes at the farmer’s market today, so this sounds perfect for tomorrow’s dinner!
    Thanks Sarah!

    • Sarah says:

      Tori,
      What good timing! I really hope that you like it! And kale from your back yard garden will be delicious! We are growing tomatoes, basil, cilantro, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries. We already have eaten 3 tomatoes and there is something special about the flavor of a home grown vegetable. Let me know how it goes and if the kids like it! Would love to get together soon.
      Sarah

      • Sarah says:

        One more idea for kale! We also tried tearing kale up into small pieces, tossing in olive oil and seasoning it with kosher salt and a little pepper. Throw it in the oven until crisp and you have yourself some chips! Mmmm….

        • Tori says:

          We had the kale/tomato spaghetti for dinner tonight. It was delicious and the kids loved it! I shared the recipe with my neighbors too.
          I will have to try to the kale chips! We have plenty of kale in the garden.

          • Sarah says:

            Oh, I am so happy that you tried it and more importantly, liked it! Thank you for sharing it too!
            Have a wonderful day!

  3. Michelle says:

    I want to try this real soon! Thanks for posting :)

  4. Charl Rae Cobb says:

    Oooooooooh ! can’t wait to try this with buckwheat pasta. Thanks for the step-by-step recipe with photos. Looks yummy !

    • Sarah says:

      Charl,
      You are welcome! What type of buckwheat pasta do you use? Other friends may want to know! Thank you!
      Sarah

  5. anne says:

    Yes! My whole family eats healthier as a result of our daughter’s food allergies. Last year I decided instead of focusing on all the foods she CAN’T eat, let’s put our energies on all the amazing whole foods she can. Kale has become one of our favorites too. Can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks!

    • Sarah says:

      Anne,
      Exactly. What you CAN have needs to overshadow what you can’t. Bravo to you! I hope that you like the recipe!
      Have a great weekend!
      Sarah

  6. Deb says:

    Dear Sara:
    Thank you for the Kale recipe, what a nice combination!! I have two teenagers that were diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies as newborn babies!! Now 15 years into the process we find that indeed life does go on. With that said….

    Do you have any special Fourth of July recipes??? With the upcoming holiday fast approaching, a time when everyone is EATING!!! I love to have something delicious special treats to share with them… Cheers1!

    ps. We have just returned from a successful trip to Quebec City where the restaurant “1640″ served wonderful allergy-free meals to our children!! What a delight. In case anyone is heading to Quebec City!!

    • Sarah says:

      Deb,
      You are welcome! You are right, life does go on and you’ve got to make that life as spectacular as possible! For 4th of July (and honestly for every holiday or birthday), I make Cherrybrook Kitchen GF chocolate cake mix. If you can find star shaped muffin pans, put the mix in that. Then make homemade vanilla frosting (I use Cybele Pascal’s vanilla frosting) and separate it into a few dishes. Color one red, the other blue and the other white. Looks festive and tastes delicious!!
      I’ll keep thinking too!
      Thank you also for the travel tip! I know other friends will appreciate it too!
      Sarah

  7. Sarah says:

    Ha, you’ve listed one of my all-time favourite dishes, prepared almost exactly the same way I make it as well! If your sons like kale, they’ll probably love raab (broccoli raab), collards, and/or swiss chard. The bonus is, if you can grow it yourself, raab will grow pretty much like a weed, and quickly too. Another great way to prepare the tomatoes in this (especially cherry tomatoes, which are so wonderfully flavourful) is to roast them, although this does take more time. Also, if you chop the stems as finely as you would the onion and fry them up at the same time, they become quite nice and soft.

    If your kids can handle vinegar (obviously not malt vinegars), another of my favourite ways to eat kale is steamed and drizzled with a little good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You don’t even miss butter when dishes actually taste better with oil and vinegar instead. :)

    • Sarah says:

      Sarah,
      The fact that we are talking about foods like kale, raab, and swiss chard in reference to what we are feeding our young children is amazing! I love it! Will try the swiss chard for sure. Thank you for sharing your ideas!
      Have a great weekend!
      Sarah

  8. I can’t wait to try this recipe…looks simple and tasty – my kind of recipe. I may even try adding beans or chicken to it for extra protein for my toddler. Thanks!

    • Sarah says:

      Kathryn,
      Definitely try adding other ingredients! I think chicken would be a real nice flavor with it! If we could eat beans, I seriously would put beans on everything… breakfast, lunch and dinner!
      Have a great weekend!
      Sarah

  9. Tracy says:

    Sarah, this recipe looks delicious and your kids look adorable eating it! You are such a great Mom to make healthy meals like this for your kids. I agree that food allergies have ensured that we eat health(ier) than we may have otherwise. I consider it a blessing in disguise. It’s nice to see that safe/healthy eating can also be quick and convenient. Thanks for the great example! Tracy

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you, Tracy. If it weren’t easy, I wouldn’t be making it that often! I promise it is that easy! It is a blessing that I sort of think we deserve :)
      Have a great weekend!
      Sarah

  10. Aunt Barb says:

    Congrats Aunt Sarah!!
    Wish I could read the article! I am going to try the spaghetti and kale recipe. Looks yummy and healthy! Beautiful babies pretty Sarah!
    Much love, Aunt Barb

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you, Aunt Barb. The baby is SO cute! Hopefully you will like this recipe! Thank you for commenting!
      Love,
      Sarah

  11. kim says:

    What a beautiful sight seeing children enjoying healthy food. The sun gold mini tomatoes are delicious at the farmers market. Every saturday my children enjoy bruschetta for breakfast after an early trip to farmers market. who says tomatoes are only for dinner!

    • Sarah says:

      Kim,
      Thank you for helping me to break the unwritten breakfast rules! I made a sliced tomato for breakfast after you inspired me!
      Sarah

  12. Noho Mom says:

    This looks great and I will literally try this tonight. Another great way to eat Kale: baked. I make Kale chips like this:

    Take a cookie sheet, put tinfoil on it, spray with Pam or lightly coat with oil
    Spread a bag of washed Kale leaves evenly (Trader Joe’s has great bags of Kale)
    Drizzle Olive Oil over leaves and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste
    Bake in oven at @350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes

    The leaves come out crispy and salty, and slightly charred, and my son LOVES them. My husband called it ‘burned lettuce’ and it is in a way, but the bitter/salty/charred taste is a winner for me and my son.

    • Sarah says:

      Noho Mom,
      We love the kale chips too! Thank you for sharing the kale chip recipe with everyone. I hope you ended up liking the kale spaghetti.
      Take care,
      Sarah

  13. Diana says:

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Brenda says:

    I love kale and look forward to making it for my two food allergic children and non food allergic singleton and hubby. On another note, I thought your article in Allergic Living magazine was spot on. I hope you find a way to help families following a food allergy diagnosis in an allergist office. Post diagnosis help is a frequent topic among all parents with food allergic children that I know.
    Thank you!

    • Sarah says:

      Brenda,
      I hope that your family likes the recipe! I also am so thankful for your kind comment about my article. Post diagnosis is when all the questions really start to come up… as we both know very well!
      Have a great week!
      Sarah

  15. I tried this recipe the other night and my toddler and I loved it! My son especially loved the sprinkle of Daiya cheese on top…he cleaned his plate. I just posted it (with a link to your recipe) on my blog. Thanks!

  16. Natalie says:

    I can’t wait to make this recipe, I looks so simple, easy and so healthy. Thank you!

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