Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Whole Food Meals for Empty Pockets- Wilted Kale Nicoise Salad

Found myself in a time of little money, and a lot of transition.  But skimping on eating healthy food isn't my idea of a good time- broke or not.   So, to the co-op I went, and spent 70$ on food.  To last me until the end of the month.  Thats roughly 23 bucks a week for three weeks. 
So, what can you make that's healthy on a budget like that? 

My biggest concern was how to get adequate healthy protein for my high protein, high fat diet.  I try to stay away from too many grains, but have made an exception during this period to include well soaked and well cooked beans.

I stocked up on organic dry beans (pinto, chickpea and lentils), 4 dozen eggs, cans of wild salmon and tuna, a family pack organic meats on sale when I shopped (that was a family pack of some steaks, chicken thighs, bacon ends, and several soup bones.) 
I also invested in some butter, some kale (2 bunches, and high hopes of including wild foraged greens in my daily fare- including nettles, grape, dandelion, violet.)

I also gratefully accepted some donations from a friend, including some olive oil, vinegar, a chicken, onions, garlic and some other basics. 

So- here's some of the on the cheap meals I'm creating!
Wilted Kale Nicoise Salad
Serves 2

2 c chopped kale leaves
2 boiled eggs
1/2 - 1 can tuna
1-2  c slow cooked chickpeas
1 slice red onion, diced
1/2 c tomato slices (I admit, I splurged at the farm stand- but got a giant bunch of small org farm tomatoes for 2 bucks.)
pepper to taste
1 -2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic or herbal infused vinegar (ACV works too)
(capers, olives, or lactofermented pickles if you have them in the pantry already)

You'll want to start by soaking your chickpeas the night before.  I start cooking them in the morning in plenty of water, on the stove top for 4-6 hrs on low.  A crock pot works just as well.  Add some herbs and spices if you like (thyme, oregano, parsley,garlic etc).  If you're really prepared, you can cook your beans in bone broth!

20 min before your meal, boil two eggs and cool, peel and slice.
Chop your kale and place in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and olive oil, and massage with your hands until well wilted and tender for 5 min. Let rest 10 min.

Dress the salad with the remaining ingredients, and toss well.
Eat immediately.  This will save in the fridge for a day, but I like it best fresh, and a bit warm rather than cold.

If you feel extra splurgy, or aren't eating on a budget, a little feta and walnuts would be a nice touch too- but I don't have either right now.  You can use more or less tuna and beans depending on your appetite and how many you are feeding.

This meal is complete with healthy protein from both organic animal and vegetable sources, good quality fats (olive, omega fatty acids from tuna and eggs), and minerals from nutrient dense kale.  A little nettle vinegar will add to the mineral benefits of the salad.  Its filling, not too high in carbohydrates, and a sustaining meal for lunch or dinner.

If you do not like to eat kale raw, even wilted (and this is very common) just steam your kale and dress it with the salad ingredients after cooking.  No problem, it will taste just as delicious.  You could also try this with other seasonal greens available- arugula, dandelion, steamed chard, mustard, steamed nettles.  Hearty greens will respond well to wilting.  And by all means, add some lettuce if you have that around, just don't skimp on the mineral rich deep leafy greens like kale.

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