Over the past few months, I have had a small group of women over to my house every Wednesday night to eat dinner, to discuss life and to discuss the book we are reading together. Really, we talk about life, current "hot topics", and nutrition. I think it makes us feel smarter that it is formally called a "book club". We DO discuss the book we are reading... and have learned a lot from it... but so much more happens on these evenings that is needed and healthy as well.
The nutrition topic undoubtedly comes up, because it's my passion, but also because in some shape or form we all have questions about it and it's role in our lives. Some are trying to lose weight or eat more veggies or stop snacking at night... you know? The normal stuff we all struggle with.
On these evenings, I try to cook a special meal... One that will make us feel good about how we are treating our bodies and one that will nourish us. I won't fool you to believe that I'm always perfect. Sometimes dinner is a take and bake pizza... but when it is, you can put money on the fact that it will include a salad.Our most recent get together was accompanied by a plethora of foods that are the color green: Asparagus, brussel sprouts, snap peas, green beans, spinach, kale, lettuce!
On this particular night, our salad included mixed spring greens, spinach, kale, red and yellow peppers, a sprinkle of cheese, and Trader Joe's sweet & spicy pecans. The salad was tossed with a light coating of red wine vinaigrette. One of the aspects of the salad that made it different and gave it a step up nutritionally was the kale. Kale is especially high in vitamins A, C, and K. It is also high in dietary fiber, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, folate, magnesium, copper, and manganese. It also contains antioxidants that are associated with cancer-fighting properties. In other words, kale is a powerhouse food. Often kale is served cooked, either sauteed in something like a stir-fry or added into a soup. I decided to add it to the salad uncooked because I thought it would add an interesting texture and because I needed to use it up. I chopped it into small pieces so that it wasn't overwhelmingly chewy. I did read from a dietician's blog, however, that kale's nutritional benefits may be increased by steaming it. Check out her interesting supporting articles and recipes for more information.
Our entree that evening was made up of whole wheat spaghetti noodles with a little Alfredo sauce, topped with steamed butternut squash, asparagus, snap peas and brussel sprouts. This is the type of dinner that I consider my favorite, because it feels gourmet (especially when accompanied by a glass of red wine) but in actuality it is easy and fairly quick!
I feel so happy and blessed to be able to spend a night with these ladies each week... and that I am able exercise my creativity and passion for food, all the while, fill ourselves up with rich nutrients and healing conversation.