Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the category “Kale”

Watermelon and Kale Salad Topped with Oil-free Cilantro and Lime Dressing

Watermelon salad 2

It seems I have lost the ability to bake. In the past five hours I’ve attempted to make vegan cornbread and blueberry scones, as well as chocolate chip scones. Yet, all I’m left with is a terrible mess (three times over) and a trash can full of baked goods that didn’t actually end up tasting good.

I made this watermelon kale salad for dinner tonight. I thought that cornbread would be a great starch to pair it with (little did I know how it would turn out). I subbed white unbleached flour for white spelt flour and while the corn muffins rose, they did not taste delicious (or even edible really). I’m blaming that cooking catastrophe on the spelt flour, which I’d used once before for baking biscuits and I was left with that same horrible flavor (maybe it had spoiled?).

The second and third baking mishaps were a mystery to me. I made the same scone recipe I’d made a thousand times before (or maybe at least a handful of times), but the “scones” (if you’re nice enough to call them that) came out perfectly flat. They looked like puffed up cookies. They’d spread so far the edges started to cook together to form one massive mama scone that looked reminiscent of Swiss cheese. As there were lots of holes in areas that didn’t manage to touch. I thought maybe the first batch was ruined by the frozen blueberries, but the second batch came out the same way. They were practically brown on the outside and yet they were flat and overly soft on the inside. The taste was not overly appealing either.

I even told myself to stop after that first batch of scones. I knew they’d turned out terrible and that wasting double the ingredients was bad enough, but I guess the third time is a charm (really it was for me and my garbage baked goods).

At this point, I’ve officially given up trying to bake dessert tonight. I’ve surrendered to my possessed oven. I’m assuming it’s the only reason for all of the unsightly baked goods that have come out of it tonight. It’s also hot, 10 pm, and I’m beginning to get tired eyes. For tonight, the oven wins, but I will surely make another batch of my favorite scones at some point.

I do apologize that none of this post actually had to do with the watermelon and kale salad recipe which you will find below. It was delicious and did not end up in the garbage, as everything else has tonight.

Watermelon & Kale Salad:

*Serves 2


7-8 leaves of kale, rinsed, dried, and roughly chopped

1/2 cup of sungold tomatoes, quartered

1 cup of watermelon, diced (and seeds removed)

1/2 cup of cucumber, diced

1/2 a jalapeno, diced finely

1/2 of an avocado, diced (or the remainder not used in the dressing recipe)

cilantro lime dressing (recipe below)


After washing the kale, dry it and then give it a rough chop. Add it to the serving bowl. Sprinkle the quartered sungold tomatoes on top of the kale. Then mix the cucumber and watermelon together and add that to the salad as well. To finish the salad, sprinkle the jalapeno pieces on top, drizzle on the cilantro lime dressing, and finally top with diced avocado pieces.

Oil-free Cilantro Lime Dressing:

*Makes enough dressing for two salads


1 lime, juiced

1/3 of an avocado, diced

1 tsp of dried cilantro or 1 tbsp of fresh diced cilantro (fresh would be best)

1/2 a jalapeno, diced

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2-3 tbsp of cold water


Add all of the ingredients (starting with 2 tbsp of water) to a small food processor and blend on high until the dressing is smooth and creamy. If the dressing is still too thick, add another tablespoon of water to the food processor and blend again. Add it to the top of the kale salad and enjoy immediately.


Kale & Avocado Hummus Served with Paprika-Spiced Pita Chips and a Social Eating Weakness

Kale, & Avocado Hummus

When I think about going to college, I think about how much fun I had with my roommates. One of my roommates, Tanya, and I always had tons of laughs when we were together. At one point we also made Spongebob and Patrick shaped pancakes for breakfast.

One of the things Tanya used to make fun of me for was my social eating habit or at least that’s what we called it. I was never one to enjoy the cafeteria food and I always had a decent-sized stash of food in the apartment (though at that time I was famous for making English muffin pizzas and breakfast for dinner more than I was for making healthy meals).

A social eating weakness, for those of you who are wondering, is when you drop what you’re doing (at all costs – you could be writing an important paper or talking on the phone) to eat and chat with people. For me, this problem really made itself known while I was at college during my sophomore year living while with three roommates in a tiny apartment with white-painted cinder block walls (if you’re visualizing it now and thinking it looked like a prison, you would be half right – the other half was filled with mismatch college decor). While discovered this urge to eat with others while in college, I think it stemmed from my Italian roots (those people are always forcing food on you, whilst yelling usually).

I didn’t start college as a social eater. No, this problem developed when I moved into the apartment with a small kitchen-living area. As we were in college, we all had different class, work, and eating schedules, but if anyone went into the kitchen and was making a meal I was there too. I just couldn’t resist eating and socializing with others. I did this even if I wasn’t hungry. The act of eating and talking just came so naturally to me (the two seem to go hand in hand).

My social eating habits brought me to share this recipe because it is perfect to eat with others. The dip’s creamy texture and mild flavor balance out the spicy, crisp pita chips. I brought this kale and avocado hummus to a July 4th party and it was devoured by the many guests at the party, as well as by me. Appetizers are my weakness, as are desserts (as is social eating). Does anyone else have this problem or am I alone in this?

Kale & Avocado Hummus 2

Kale & Avocado Hummus:


1 can of cannellini beans or garbanzo beans (I used cannellini)

1 avocado, halved and diced

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced

salt and pepper to taste (roughly 1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, or more to taste)

3-4 leaves of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped (you could try another green like spinach or arugula)


Add all of the ingredients except for the kale into a food processor. Blend on high until the mixture is well combined and fairly smooth. Then add in the kale. Blend again on high until the kale becomes chopped into tiny pieces or is not visible at all. Serve alongside the spiced pita chips or for a gluten-free option serve with corn chips.

Paprika-Spiced Pita Chips:


1 package of pita bread, about 4-5 thick pitas

2(+) tbsp of olive oil (or more depending)

1 tsp of smoked paprika

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/8 of a tsp of cayenne pepper


1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then slice your pita bread into triangles by cutting each pita in half and than slicing triangular shapes by cutting from the middle out to the edge of the pita with a knife.

2- Once the pitas are cut, add them to a mixing bowl. Then drizzle the olive oil over the pitas (making sure not to only pour it in one spot). Sprinkle the spices over the pita. Then mix the pita with the olive oil and spices, making sure each pita piece is evenly coated.

3- Bake for about 15 minutes and then flip each pita piece. Bake for another 15-20 minutes (or until both sides are golden brown). Taste a pita chip and add a little extra salt and pepper if necessary. Serve alongside the avocado hummus. Enjoy!

Lentil, Kale, & Carrot Dal

Lentil, Kale, & Carrot Dal

I’ve come to love making and eating dal. It is such a simple dish with so many delicious variations. This recipe was no different. The carrots gave the dal a crunchy texture, while the baked potato and roasted tomatoes gave a much softer feel. The slightly spicy flavor of the curry was balanced out by the sweet flavor of the carrots and tomatoes. This dish was simple to make, healthy, and provided a good amount of leftovers, which I always look forward to having at lunch. If you have any favorite dal recipes, please post them below! What is your favorite ingredient combination when making dal?

Lentil, Kale, & Carrot Dal: 

Serves 2-4 (depending on the amount of potatoes you bake)


2 – 4 potatoes (depending on the number of people you intend to serve), washed

1/2 cup of red lentils, rinsed

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil (plus a tad bit more for drizzling over each potato)

1 large garlic clove, diced

1-2 large handfuls of kale, washed and diced into about 1 inch pieces

1-2 carrots, diced

1 can of roasted & diced tomatoes

1 tsp of curry powder

1/2 tsp of turmeric

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder


1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then wash and dry the potatoes. Poke a slit into each potato and bake them for about forty five minutes to an hour (poke a fork or knife in them to see if they are tender).

2- Meanwhile, slice and dice all of the vegetables and put a medium sized pot filled 3/4 of the way with water on the stove over medium high heat. When the water begins to boil, add the lentils. Let them cook for about 7-10 minutes or until they are tender (you don’t want to overcook red lentils, as they tend to break apart easily if overcooked).

3- When the potatoes have been in the oven for about 40 minutes, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the garlic. When the garlic begins to brown on the edges, add the kale and carrot pieces. Stir every few minutes.

4- After about 8 minutes (when the kale is tender – the carrots will still be crunchy), add the roasted tomatoes, lentils, and all of the spices. Stir well. Heat for about another five minutes or until all of the flavors are combined.

5- Hollow out a hole (with a diameter of about 2 inches) in each baked potato. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over each, as well as a dash of salt and pepper. Serve the dal inside each potato. Enjoy!

Cool as a Cucumber “Green” Smoothie

cucumber smoothie

It’s the simple pleasures that matter most in life. The things that bring you joy each day. What are some of the simple pleasures you enjoy most? For me, some of those things include walking my dogs on a beautiful morning, enjoying the fresh spring air, chatting with friends, gardening, and smoothies.

I’ve been on a smoothie-kick for a couple of months and now I’m hooked. I feel so good after drinking them that I just can’t stop, not to mention that making smoothies gives me another opportunity to sneak more leafy greens into my diet.

The sun beamed down on the exposed skin on my arms, as I walked the dogs on this bright spring morning. I created a cooling “green” smoothie with a purple hue to combat the warm air outside. The cucumber flavor was very subtle. Stronger flavors of blueberry and banana masked any flavor of kale (which isn’t something I’d like to taste first thing in the morning). This felt like a definite pick-me-up on a morning where I felt more tired than usual. Read on for a refreshing drink recipe.

Cool as a cucumber “green” smoothie recipe:

*Inspired by Kris Carr’s favorite green smoothie recipe, which she discussed during The Food Revolution Summit  – many of the ingredients in this smoothie are ones she listed as some of her favorite smoothie ingredients

*Serves 1


1 1/4 cup of nondairy milk for a thinner smoothie or 1 cup for a thicker drink (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1 tbsp of ground flax seed

1 tsp of chia seeds, ground

1/2 cup of diced cucumber

1 handful of leafy greens (I used kale)

1/2 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries

1 banana, peeled and broken into quarters (for a colder smoothie freeze banana pieces first)


1- Add the ingredients to the blender in the order they appear and blend until smooth. Drink immediately.

Do you have any go to or favorite smoothie recipes? If so, feel free to post them in the comments section!


Cilantro-lime Chickpea Wraps

cilantro lime salad 2

The cilantro-lime flavored chickpea filling.

You may not believe your eyes when you read the end of this sentence, but all week I have been daydreaming about eating kale. Yes, it’s true. I admit it. I’ve thought about putting it in soups, making salads with it, and adding it to wraps. I craved kale’s distinct flavor. It is slightly bitter, yet it also reminds me of the familiar taste of raw broccoli. I’ve had a bunch of curly green kale in my fridge since Sunday and I have practically been counting down the seconds until I could use it.

For some of you, this may be a feeling you can’t relate to. I don’t think many people dream about eating kale, but if you’ve become a kale-addict as I have, then this feeling wouldn’t seem too far fetched.

This crisp leafy greens were nestled in between layers of the cilantro-lime chickpea wrap I made for dinner. While kale didn’t play a starring role, its crisp texture paired well with the creamy feel of the chickpea salad. At first bite, the flavors of lime, garlic, and cilantro mingled on my tongue. In two words, for me, this salad was simply perfection. It was just what I wanted at the time, a healthy meal that didn’t sacrifice any flavor. On top of all that, it was also pretty inexpensive to make, which my wallet is still thanking me for.

cilantro lime salad 3

The final product.

Cilantro-lime Wraps:

*Serves 2 if eaten just by itself / 4 if used as a part of wraps


1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and then rinsed well

1 tomato, diced

1 avocado, halved, peeled, and diced

1 large clove of garlic, diced

1 tbsp of fresh cilantro, diced (or 1 tsp of dried)

the juice of one lime

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp of each)

2 leaves of kale, washed and then sliced into about 1 inch strips

1/2 cup of hummus for spreading on the wraps (I used jalapeno hummus, which was delicious with the cilantro lime dressing)

4 wraps

cilantro lime salad


1- Drain and rinse the can of garbanzo beans. Add them to a bowl with the diced tomato, avocado, cilantro, and garlic. Then add the juice of one lime, the olive oil, and seasonings. Stir well. Add more salt or pepper depending. You could just eat this salad like this or add it to a wrap. It was very tasty on its own, but as I mentioned before, I had my sights set on eating kale.

For my expert wrap-wrapping technique read on.

2- I am no expert, but this method works. Lay your wrap flat and spread it with a layer of hummus (spread it all over the wrap as it acts like a glue keeping the wrap together). Then place the kale and chickpea salad on the right half of the wrap (leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space above and below where the kale and salad is). Then fold the top and bottom edges of the wrap in towards the center and begin to roll the filled side of the wrap towards the empty side, rolling it tightly as you go. Slice and serve!

Have you been daydreaming about eating any specific foods lately?

Quinoa with Kale and a Balsamic Dressing

kale quinoa
To feed my growing quinoa addiction, I made quinoa with kale and baby bella mushrooms. At first bite, I felt the texture of the slightly still crisp curly kale, the softness of the mushrooms, and the roundness of the cooked quinoa seeds. The flavors of garlic and the hearty baby bella mushrooms mingled on my tongue, but I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing flavor-wise. Don’t get me wrong, this vegan dish was good, but it just didn’t have that quality that makes a recipe great. I had a little bit of leftover balsamic vinegar dressing I’d made for that night’s salad, just sitting on the table. On a whim, I drizzled a little bit of dressing over the steaming quinoa and took a bite. There it was, that flavor combination I hungered for. And so, this kale and quinoa salad topped with balsamic vinaigrette was born. Read on for the recipe.
Ingredients for quinoa with kale and baby bella mushrooms: 
1 cup of quinoa
1/2 tbsp of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, diced
2 handfuls of kale, sliced into about 1-2 inch pieces
1 cup of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1/4 tsp of garlic powder, pepper, and red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the balsamic dressing: 
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp of sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1/2 tsp of oregano flakes
1/4 cup of olive oil
Add the quinoa to a sauce pan with two cups of water. Heat over medium-high heat. When it begins to boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer over medium-low until all of the water is absorbed. While the quinoa is cooking, chop all of the vegetables.
 Heat olive oil in a frying pan. When the pan is hot, add the onion. Let the onion cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the diced garlic. When the garlic begins to brown around the edges, add the portobello mushroom slices and the kale. Stir in the spices at this time also.
As the veggies are cooking, make the dressing. Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing except for the olive oil. Whisk the ingredients together, then very SLOWLY add the olive oil as you continue to whisk.
When the quinoa is done, add the other half tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the vegetables. Mix well. Finish by drizzling the balsamic vinaigrette over the quinoa.
What do you like to pair with quinoa? Feel free to post any of your favorite quinoa recipes below!

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