Artichoke Attraction

Artichokes were not introduced into my life until I was well into adulthood.  When my friend found out that I had not eaten it before, she immediately invited me over to her place and prepared an artichoke for me.  She basically boiled it and served it alongside mayonnaise.  She claimed that “Eating artichoke was an excuse to eat mayonnaise!” “Mmmm”, I replied, happily dipping another leaf into the creamy emulsion.  The taste was unusual but it grew on me as I continued to dip and scrape the flesh off the leaf with my teeth.  What I really loved about the whole experience was eating it with my hands and licking my fingers.  It is the equivalent of eating a whole crab, but for vegetarians.

So on this note, my one piece of advice for what not to eat on a first date is a whole crab, as the business of breaking the legs and digging into the shell for every last bit of flesh is very primal.  And really, when you use the word primal to describe anything, it’s just another way to say “unattractive”.  I get into a zone where nothing else exists but me and the crab and to hell with black bean sauce dribbling down my chin.

Stuffed Artichoke Kake2Kale.com

But back to what is attractive, it’s the artichoke.  Not only is it a beautiful vegetable, it definitely qualifies as a superfood as it is loaded with antioxidants such as quercetin (a natural anti-histamine), as well as the antioxidants cynarin and silymarin, these may be helpful in regenerating liver cells.  Cynarin also stimulates the production of bile, which aids in the digestion of fats.

I came across a stuffed artichoke recipe many years ago, which I made with great success; it is slightly more elegant than just serving it alongside a sauce. The recipe below is a version of what I made. Please refer to the photos of the cross section of artichoke before and after I scooped out the inner pointy leaves and the fuzzy choke.

I’d like to point out that the serving “dishes” that we used are actually trivets that Kale made from wine corks collected on her travels – ingenious!

Stuffed Artichoke Kake2Kale.com

Other superfoods in this recipe:

Garlic – The major player in the allium family ( includes: leeks, onions, shallots, chives, green onion) contains sulphuric compounds that may help with lowering blood pressure and destroying cancer cells.  Allicin, one of these compounds in garlic is not only anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, but research has shown that allicin can help your body to neutralize dangerous free radicals.

Tomato – Technically a fruit. High in vitamin C and potassium as well as lycopene, fights free-radicals, supports prostate health, and protects skin from sun damage.   It also contains zea-xanthin, which is good for eye health.

Stuffed Artichoke Kake2Kale.com

Stuffed Artichokes makes 4 appetizer servings or 2 main course servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large artichokes
  • 4 slices sundried sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
  • ½ c. grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ breadcrumbs or panko crumbs (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • ¼ c. olive oil (or more as needed)
  • ¼ c. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. salt

Stuffed Artichoke Kake2Kale 5

Directions:

  • Cut the tops off the artichokes, about an inch from the top.
  • Then trim the sharp tip of each leaf.
  • Fill a pot big enough to fit the two artichokes, with water.
  • Bring water to a boil and then put the artichokes in right side up.  Add ¼ c. of lemon juice and 2 tsp. of salt.   Bring water back to a boil for about 20-25 minutes or until a skewer pokes easily through the stem.
  • While artichokes are cooking, put sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil and ¼ c. parmesan cheese into a blender and puree.  If the mixture is too dry add more olive oil.
  • Mix the rest of the parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs.
  • Preheat oven to 375˚F
  • Once the artichokes are cooked, cut them in half lengthwise, then scrape out the fuzzy choke out of the core.  Cut the stem off, peel the outer layer, finely chop the inner flesh and add to the pureed sun-dried tomato mixture.
  • Fill the center with the sundried tomato mixture and then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the whole surface of the artichoke.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes  and then turn to broil and broil for 2-3 minutes or until crumbs turn golden brown.  Keep an eye on it, it turns colour quite quickly.
  • Now devour!

Eat superfoods, live a super life! {Kake}

Stuffed Artichoke Kake2Kale.com

Gung Hei Fat Prawns

Gung Hei Fat Choy! I love Chinese New Year!  Lots of eating with family, friends, lucky money, special treats, and new clothes (on the first day of the New Year you should wear new clothes to give yourself a fresh start).   But I also love that Chinese New Year for me is where I get to have a “do over”.  If there were any resolutions made on Jan 1 that haven’t started, then I can try again.  And, to all of you who also had good intentions to ie.  give up sugar, start a new workout, read more, floss every day, and/or eat more superfoods, well, don’t be discouraged as you can try again in the Lunar New Year….even if you aren’t Chinese!

My  Chinese New Year recipe is quite unconventional, in that the ingredients aren’t your standard New Year’s fare.  Because, frankly, most of the “special” dishes eaten at this time are not delicious to my North American palate, such as dried oysters, black moss (looks like a clump of black hair), jai (vegetarian gluten dish).  Doesn’t sound too appetizing, does it?  But I hope this Gung Hei Fat Prawns does! And, it’s loaded with superfoods.

Chinese New Year 2 Kake2Kale

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Good Things Come in Small Packages

People love eating me all around the world.  I am like a warm, cozy blanket for your taste buds and tummy.  You can fill me with all sorts of goodies, meat, and veggies.  What am I?  No, I am not a calzone.  Go smaller and Asian….you got it – Dumplings!  Kale and I can eat them every day if we could.  We aren’t sure if it’s in our blood, but there is just something in those small puffy pillows of savoury meat and veggies that calls to us.  A few years ago, Kale and I took a dumpling making class and loved it.  Ironically, it was taught by a very knowledgeable non-Asian guy.  Making dumplings at home is ideally a social activity; therefore, Kale and I took off to the Granville Island Public Market to shop for the ingredients, then headed back to her place to make them.

But before we dove into making the dumplings, we fortified ourselves with a late breakfast of tea and scones.   It felt like we had stepped back in time to when we were kids playing with our tea sets.  Although now, we drank fragrant lavender rooibos tea and nibbled on blueberry-lemon-oat scones using Kale’s sophisticated fine china.

Superfoods in our dumplings:
Turkey – This meat is lean, high in protein and has a good amount of iron, phosphorous, zinc , potassium and vitamin B’s. We selected the free-run and non-medicated turkey.
Prawns – Good protein with Omega-3’s, B vitamins, and is also high in iron, as well as zinc, selenium, copper, magnesium and phosphorous.
Shitake mushrooms – Has a particularly high amount of copper, which may be beneficial to heart health.  These mushrooms are also high in B vitamins and selenium.  It contains lentinan which has anti-fungal properties and can also protect against cancer.
Chives – A good source of vitamin K which is important for the production of osteocalcin, a bone protein.
Ginger – An anti-inflammatory and is full of antioxidants to support its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-parasitic properties.

Granville Island Kake2Kale

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Gastown Grazing

One of Kale’s favourite foodie activities in Vancouver is hanging out in Gastown for a progressive dinner with friends.  They hop from restaurant to restaurant for different courses throughout the evening.  It can be called a dine-around or dinner crawl, depending on their mood; but the places are spontaneously selected and no two evenings are the same.  That’s the fun part!   For those of you less familiar with Vancouver, Gastown is a stylish, historic neighbourhood in the city centre and considered a hub for unique dining.  Since most of Kale’s gastronomic experience of Gastown is nocturnally-driven, she thought a progressive lunch would be a good Kake2Kale challenge.  And, to up the ante,  Kale wanted to find comfort dishes, with superfoods, that can be eaten in a bowl. At first, I was skeptical and thought we could only eat pasta and soup. But Kale convinced me to be open and surprised by what we might find. I’m glad she did, and without any plans, here is how we grazed our way through Gastown on a rainy January afternoon!

Flying Pig
The Truffled Cauliflower Gratin with 4 cheeses on the menu of the Flying Pig restaurant peeked our interest. Kale and I knew we HAD to have it.  As we were giving our order, the server suggested we order the brussel sprouts as well.  They were served in boats, which was bowl-like enough for us.  Wow, the brussel sprouts were outstanding. They were roasted with capers, which brought a brightness to the earthy flavor of the sprouts.  The cauliflower, however, was a little underwhelming as they were under cooked.  Please bear in mind I am not a restaurant reviewer, but I do know what I like.  The cheeses were yummy though – white cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan.  Cauliflower and brussel sprouts are both cruciferous vegetables which have indole-3-carbinol and promotes a healthy balance of good estrogen.  They also have anti-tumour properties and are high in fibre.  So we were off to a good start!

Gastown 1 Kake2Kale

Jules Bistro
For a romantic meal where you feel like you’ve been whisked away to an intimate, pretty, little jewel (pun intended) of a restaurant in France, Jules Bistro is the place for you.  More importantly, the food is delicious as well!  We ordered a bowl of mussels with a leek cream sauce, which turned out to be light and flavourful.  The sauce was sooo delicious, and I couldn’t stop dipping chunks of baguette into it.  We went in search of our next course after being fortified with protein, Omega 3’s as well as minerals – like calcium, zinc and iron – from the mussels. Continue reading