Summer Kale Salad + How To Massage Kale

If, ten years ago, you asked me whether I saw myself falling in love with or even visiting St. Louis, chances are I would have shook my head and said no. This is only my second visit, and although I can’t say I’ve been here long enough to accurately describe the place, there is a sense of familiarity and comfort that I associate with this sleepy city. It almost feels as if it could be my second home- the people I have met so far have been nothing short of lovely. I’ve been gifted with beautiful, homegrown, peak-of-the-season tomatoes and peppers (including a ghost pepper, which is the spiciest and hottest pepper on planet earth…), and I came home with a bag full of apples after a visit to a local garden yesterday. I firmly believe that great ingredients are key and make a world of difference when you are cooking, and I am super excited to work with the produce I have been so generously provided with! You’ll probably see the results in the upcoming weeks in my blog posts and Instagram photos.

I haven’t been able to cook as much as I’d like to, as my hosts are currently re-constructing their kitchen. There are nights when we’ve been able to squeeze in simple meals involving the stove and the oven, but it’s difficult to make more complex dishes when construction tools are still lying around and half the kitchen is covered in dust. A lot of planning has gone into making this kitchen, and I know it’ll be perfect when it is done. Even though it isn’t my own kitchen, I love walking in at the end of each day to see the progress that’s been made.  There are only two more weeks until I have access to a fully equipped kitchen again! In the meantime, a close family friend of my boyfriend’s family, KeeKee, has generously allowed us to use her kitchen. KeeKee is someone who is super fun to be with, and you can tell that she’s just naturally good at conversing with people and being social. She also has impeccable taste when it comes to interior design and decoration. It feels like her entire house should be on Pinterest, and I’m surprised it isn’t already!



That night I made a massaged kale salad with pea shoots, summer squash (yellow zucchini), oven-roasted tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, and cannellini beans. It’s very similar to the recipe I posted earlier this summer for a dish with kale, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, and wild rice, but this dish feels much more vibrant and fresh than the other one. Many people have confessed to me that they dislike kale because of its slightly bitter flavour and chewy, rubbery texture. To those afraid of the great, leafy kale, have no fear! All you need to do is massage it. It sounds exhausting, but the process only takes five minutes.


Why massage kale? Massaging kale helps to break down the hard fibers of the vegetable, making it easier to digest. Although massaged kale is still relatively chewy, it is much softer and the vegetable will begin to wilt within a minute or two of massaging. Massaging kale will also make it less bitter.

How do you massage kale? Just grab bunches of it and squeeze. The Los Angeles Times likens the process to kneading bread dough, which is exactly what your hands should be doing with the kale. I like to massage with extra virgin olive oil, but feel free to use whatever oil you prefer. It’s not as messy as it sounds, and it does leave your hands feeling silky soft afterwards. If you don’t like to get your hands dirty, steaming also works, and takes only a few minutes.

Why eat kale? Kale is full of cancer-fighting antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and vitamin K. In addition, kale’s high fibre content makes it a heart healthy food that helps to lower cholesterol. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef and more calcium than milk, making it an ideal vegetable for individuals who suffer from anemia or osteoporosis. One cup of kale alone has 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and 684% of vitamin K. If kale doesn’t sound like a true superfood to you, I don’t know what will! (Side note: my birthday is coming up, if anyone wants to send me this kale sweatshirt or tank top… I will love you forever.)

IMG_9711Summer Kale Salad
*yields 8 servings
6-7 cups curly kale, chopped
2 cups cannellini beans, cooked
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 cup pea shoots
3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
2 large yellow summer squash, sliced
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
juice of 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
coconut oil
sea salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
2. Grease a baking tray with coconut oil, and place the sliced squash on the tray.
3. Drizzle coconut oil over the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes, until the slices turn golden brown.
4. Grease another baking tray with coconut oil, and place the chopped tomatoes on the tray. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Roast for 40-45 minutes, until the skins of the tomatoes begin to blister.
6. While the squash and tomatoes are roasting, heat up two tablespoons of coconut oil in a large pan on medium heat.
7. Add the garlic to the pan. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the mushrooms, cooking until they are soft. Add the beans, and cook for another five minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
8. In a large mixing bowl, drizzle three to four tablespoons of olive oil over the kale. Begin massaging the kale. Use more oil if necessary, and massage until the kale has wilted.
9. Toss the pea sprouts into the bowl of kale and mix.
10 Mix in the tomatoes, squash, mushrooms, and beans with the kale. Drizzle the lemon juice into the salad, season to taste, and toss to mix.

Enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4]

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Happy Friday! It’s been quiet on the blog front, but a recipe is in the works and I’m hoping to have it up by Sunday. This week has gone by surprisingly quick, even though I didn’t do much besides eating, sleeping, reading, and watching Orange Is The New Black. Here are some links that stuck with me this week…

Firstly, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

I know it’s Friday, but Monday is happening in a few days and we all know how difficult it can be to get through a Monday. Here are eleven little ways to get through this Monday.

If you need a little more motivation: ten ways to rock your morning.

Life happens.

Zosia Mamet from the HBO show Girls opened up about her personal eating disorder struggles + more on ED recovery and tuning out food noise by Gena from Choosing Raw.

Beyoncé’s VMA performance cemented feminism as her brand. Taylor Swift has also revealed that she’s been a feminist all along.

A good reminder that there is no such thing as the ‘perfect time’.

Have something to say? Find the time to say it.

No one else can love you before you love yourself. Real love is everywhere, look inwards for love.

Try not to become bitter: there is more good than bad.

People often ask me what ‘plant-based’ means. Here is a perfect summary of what it means to maintain a plant-based lifestyle. 

Have extra peaches? Why not make jam?

A happy friday to all,

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Lemon Coconut Blueberry Swirl Bars

August Recipe Redux: Bars & Bites for Brown Bags
Whether you pack your lunch in a bento box, a brown bag or a retro cartoon character lunch box, don’t forget the bars and bites. Small squares or round bites can pack nutrition into a sweet or savoury taste. Show us your favourite way to jazz up any type of lunch box.

Hello world! Sorry for the brief pause in blogging. The past week has been crazy busy for me: I was denied entry to the U.S. when I tried to fly earlier this week, and have spent the last few days gathering my courage and documents to try again yesterday. Luckily for me, everything went smoothly yesterday! I am now in the U.S. for a few weeks before I return to Toronto at the end of September. The first time I tried, I was pulled aside for secondary screening. I won’t go into very much detail here, but I was subjected to very rude, disrespectful treatment and questioning by a U.S. Customs officer. I understand the need to question visitors to the U.S., however, this officer had no interest in listening to what I had to say. There wasn’t much point in answering his questions as he was formulating his own answers and opinions as to why I was traveling to America. I’m so very grateful for all the love and support I got from my family and friends this past week- they kept me sane! I am especially thankful for my Aunt Agnes, a very dear family friend who I’ve known since I was a child. She housed me for two weeks, brought me to the airport, came back to pick me up from the airport when I was turned around, and has just been so kind to me. Given that my aunt loves lemon bars and has a habit of taking little snack boxes to work, I decided to make her lemon coconut blueberry swirl bars to thank her. These lemon bars are gluten-free, and I added some coconut and blueberries. I need to work on my swirling technique, but I think you get the idea!

I’ve unfortunately misplaced my memory card, so today’s photos are coming from my iPhone. I promise I’ll have better written and photographed blog posts once I’ve caught up on some much needed sleep!

Lemon Coconut Blueberry Swirl Bars
*yields twelve servings
For the crust:
2 cups oats/gluten-free oats
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
pinch of sea salt

For the filling:
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey
1 egg
1 banana
juice of 3 lemons
zest of 4 lemons

For the swirl:
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
maple syrup or raw honey, to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
2. Pour the oats in a food processor and pulse until the oats become ground oat flour.
3. Place the oats in a small mixing bowl, and mix together with the water, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and sea salt. This should be slightly but not overly sticky.
4. Grease a baking pan with coconut oil and press the crust into the bottom of the pan.
5. Place the crust into the oven to bake while you prepare the filling and swirl. Once the crust begins to brown, remove it from the oven.
6. In a food processor, purée the coconut, egg, banana, lemon juice, zest, and your sweetener of choice.
7. Pour the lemon filling into the baking pan and set aside.
8. On low heat, simmer the blueberries with the water, vanilla extract, and your sweetener of choice. Once the blueberry mixture begins to thicken, pour into your food processor to blend.
9. Spoon the blueberry sauce onto the lemon bars and swirl using a knife.
10. Place the lemon bars back in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes.
11. Remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool before eating.


The above recipe is inspired by Oatmeal With A Fork and The Sweet Tooth Life.

Enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,

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