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Healthy Reviews

Fulton Market Farmer’s Market + Kale Blueberry Salad

August 25, 2015


My good friend Marta recently got back from visiting her family in Poland – where she was born and raised. She came back in a bit of a daze. I would too. The pace of life doesn’t just move slower. It comes to a screeching halt. Especially where she grew up. A town called Jedwabne.

The first day there she texts me a picture of homemade pierogi stuffed with blueberries. The blueberries, she says, are from large forests nearby. But Marta didn't pick them. She bought them from people who were selling them at the side of the road who had picked them. Apparently, fruit picking is all the rage in Poland. 

Later, it’s a homemade potato bake (kartoflanka). A super hearty and delicious dish made with bacon from the local butcher, eggs from the neighbor, and potatoes and onions grown in her aunt's backyard. 

Then later, homemade plum jam. Jam picked from an ENTIRE WALL of jams in her grandma's basement – along with pickled veggies and homemade meats. 

Everything she ate was not only homemade, but also grown in her grandmother’s garden. Or her aunt’s garden next door. There are only two restaurants in town because nobody ever eats out. There’s no such thing as “stocking up” at the grocery store for the week. Whatever they need for dinner that night, or breakfast that morning, they pick it up that day.

Of course, I’m living in a fantasy world if I think that I could have any of those luxuries living in downtown Chicago. Life just moves too fast here. But listening to her stories got me thinking…

 About the way I eat (incredibly fast, usually in front of a screen).

The way I cook (rushed, as if it was a chore).

The way I shop (stressed, at the packed parking-garaged city grocery stores).

Which is why this past weekend, I made it a priority to make my first trip to…DaDaDaDAAAAA:

The Farmer's Market!

Specifically, the Green City Farmer's Market in Fulton Market (West Loop whoop whoop).

Smart move on my part (insert back pat here). Because it was exactly what I was looking for. A slow-moving, real-people-engaging, mouth-watering, what-the-heck-is-that? experience. You want to see? Okay! If you insist.




All weekend I've been adding my finds to different dishes – from scrambled eggs made with free range eggs, farmer's onions and lobster mushrooms, to really vibrant and unbelievably fresh salads. And that's exactly where I'll leave you. With this Farmers-Markets-Make-Everything-Taste-Better salad.

Oh! But before I do, I'd like to challenge you – no DARE YOU – to go find a farmer's market in your area before summer is over. PLEASE! Just once. For me? It'll slow you down and make you appreciate your food more than you ever have. You'll get to experience produce that you didn't even know existed. And EVERYTHING tastes better and fresher and juicier, and did I say BETTER?? We can't all experience a little town in Poland like my friend, or have the time for homecooked meals from scratch. But we can get a little closer to our food, slow down and appreciate it all just a little more.

Kale Blueberry Salad Recipe


Salad Ingredients:

  • Kale
  • Sauteed Cabbage (in coconut oil)
  • Blueberries
  • Cremini Mushrooms
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of Bee Pollen – I get mine from here (Want a reminder about how awesome Bee Pollen is for your health? Read this post)

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Herbs De Provence – I get mine from the Spice House
  • Olive Oil


  1. To saute the cabbage, chop it up into tiny pieces, and saute it in coconut oil for about 10 minutes).
  2. Chop up all your ingredients. 
  3. Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients.
  4. Toss together.
  5. Smile cause you're so happy something that tastes so good is SO good for you.


Much Love,


Like what you read today? Think somebody else would like to learn about the Green City Farmer's Market or how to make an awesome salad? See those cute little social shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

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Kale, But Better: Discovering Nutritional Yeast and Stalk Smoothies

January 14, 2014

A co-worker recently asked me what she should do with a huge bag of kale she had in her refrigerator before it went bad. As you know from a previous post, I am a big fan of the dark, leafy stuff. And just happened to have two new uses that I recently discovered myself.

USE #1: CRUNCHY, CREAMY KALE SALAD (inspired by this recipe from Oh She Glows)

One way involves a key ingredient that just entered my life. It’s called Nutritional Yeast. I know, it kind of sounds like a venereal disease. But I promise, it is quite the opposite; It's really good for you. It’s a source of vitamins, and is naturally low in fat and sodium. It’s sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Best part is, it makes vegetables (notably, kale) taste even better. I know, mind: BLOWN. How did I now know about this before?

Here’s how I did it.

  • Chopped up the Kale into bite-sized pieces. There’s something really good about getting a variety of ingredients that fit in one forkful.
  • Toasted walnuts and pecans (but please use your favorite nut) and then chopped them up by hand, because even though I own a food processor, it is always my goal to wash as few dishes as possible.
  • Mixed extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice (from a real live lemon), chopped garlic (from a real jar of chopped garlic), shallots, pepper and a teeny tiny bit of salt (I try to avoid using salt as much as possible, but a tiny bit can enhance the flavor a lot) in a bowl with a fork.
  • Mixed the nut pieces with the nutritional yeast – this is where the crunchy, creamy texture comes in.
  • Then I mixed it all together and poured it over my bite-sized kale.
  • I highly recommend trying it with chicken, chickpeas, or bacon, all alongside dried cranberries if you’d like to add a sweet yet tart bite.
  • I beg you to try this recipe if you like kale or are still trying to like kale. It breaks its tough flavor down and adds this creamy, almost cheesy flavor, without the cream and cheese. Ahhhh.


I promise you, I have never been a smoothie-er or a juicer. Making them seemed way too time consuming, too messy and, honestly – why would I want to put all of my food in one glass when I could eat it? HOWEVER, I do not like to waste food and I had leftover kale stalks from making the above salad. Making a fiber-full smoothie seemed like a smart thing to do (the stalks actually contain the most fiber and the most nutrients). And I hate to say it, but I liked it. A lot. And it might have motivated me to start making smoothies on a regular basis (shout out to my smoothie-loving friend Sally).

Here’s how I did it.

  • I put all of my leftover stalks in a sealed plastic bag after using them to make a salad.
  • Busted out four stalks (you don’t want to over-do it because, like I said, they are full of fiber and that could prove disastrous on your digestive system) and roughly chopped them.
  • Chopped up a lemon into quarters and put one quarter next to my stalks. I did not remove the lemon peel because you would not believe the nutritional power that comes just from the peel. Keep it on – the blender will tear it to a pulp and it’s worth it. (Warning: I don't mind pulp, but if you do, you may want to just stick to the lemon juice).
  • Looked in my fridge to see what else I could find and found a honey crisp apple and a couple of full-sized carrots.
  • Before I tossed any of my veggies and fruits in, I added a cup or so of almond milk and a handful of ice cubes to my blender. I then followed with the rest of the ingredients, and topped it off with a teaspoon of chia seeds.
  • As you can see, there was no real rhyme or reason to how I did this. I just had an idea/hope that it would taste good. And it did! But best of all, it made me feel awesome. Because I’m going to Cancun in a couple days, I plan to be wearing a bathing suit, which means I am a little paranoid about how flat my stomach is. I swear, this smoothie made it flatter. Fiberfull, detoxifying, awesomeness. 

Kale Is The New Black

November 17, 2013

Kale is like Sandy Frink. You know – the nerdy guy in Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion who was ignored as a kid, but came back to the reunion as this successful, mysterious superstar?

This dark leafy green used to be known as the buttery side dish to fried chicken in soul food meals. Now it’s the mega superfood – everybody wants a piece of it. It’s in soups, salads, chips, even music videos (twerking + kale = hilarious). When I asked my friends and readers which health food they would like to know more about, three people said kale.   

I am not afraid to admit that I was one of the first ones to hop right on that bandwagon so I’ve gotten to know Kale pretty well throughout the last few years.

So let’s talk KALE. What it is, what it does, and how you use it…

Kale Nutrition Label (serving size 1 cup)

  • 33 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 5 grams of fiber
  • 5% of iron (more than beef per calorie!)
  • 9% of daily value of calcium (more than milk per calorie)
  • 206% of vitamin A
  • 134% vitamin C
  • 684% vitamin K
  • Rich in lutein and zeaxanthin compounds

Kale Benefits (i.e. what does the above actually do for me?)

  • It’s high fiber helps your digestion
  • It’s high iron assists in the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more
  • It’s high vitamin K can a) reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer and b) helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease (especially when it is cooked)
  • High vitamin C means great for your immune system, metabolism and hydration (awesome!)
  • Vitamin A means take down that prescription; it’s good for your vision!
  • High in calcium aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
  • Overall, it assists with a wide variety of bodily functions – normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity and bone health
  • Small Warning: Kale can interfere with the absorption of calcium so avoid eating dairy at the same time as kale
  • It tastes Oh So Good in a million different forms. Which leads me to…

10 Kale Uses

  1. Kale in your omelets: Props to Katie for this suggestion – I suggest sauteing it first, then adding it to the omelet when you’re adding all your other veggies.
  2. Kale as a chip: there are a ton of packaged options for this right now, but the least expensive (and most sodium-controlled) option, is making it yourself. Try this recipe.
  3. Kale as a side: Bobby Flay never lets me down with his solid, tried-and-true recipes.
  4. Kale in your juice: My best friend loves to make the most amazing, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink juice smoothies, so it’s no surprise that she threw kale into the mix. I loved that she lives by the philosophy of just throw in what tastes good, but if you must follow a recipe, this Blended Recipes site is all about juicing and its health benefits.
  5. Kale in your pasta: A great way to add a lot more veggies to your pasta dishes Try this Pasta with Corn and Kale Recipe.
  6. Kale in your salad – The more you can eat your vegetables raw, the better. But I understand that kale is a little bit chewy and hard to swallow completely dry. Which is why, when I put it in my salad that I let it marinate for a few hours (or overnight) in a mixture of lemon, garlic and a touch of olive oil.
  7. Kale as a spread (this one will make you say “Genius!”): I wish I thought of this one on my own, because I am always looking for healthier spreads to put on veggies or sandwiches besides the usual hummus. Introducing kale-onaise!
  8. Use Kale as your tortilla: This is a superfood, low carb, gluten-free way to eat a wrap or a taco. It’s so hearty that two big bibs of Lacinato Kale (bigger and flatter) will be stable enough to hold the rice/quinoa/bulgar/meaty/saucy insides.
  9. Kale burgers: I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I am DYING to. It looks so ridiculously good and so ridiculously healthy.
  10. Kale with hummus: When I’m starving and I walk in the door, I try my hardest not to get into any kind of chip (even if it is a quinoa chip). Instead, I always start with a raw veggie and dip it in hummus. And yes, that includes taking strips of kale, spreading on a chunk of hummus, wrapping it up, and eating it. Delicous!

So my healthy, kale-loving friends, now that I’ve share my ways with my nutrient packed cool kid on the block, I must ask, how do you do kale??