Archive for November, 2011

November 30, 2011

Why Kale is Such a Super Food

by Jen Wanous

If you’ve been to my house for dinner, chances are that you have had my kale chips. They are like caramelized brussels sprouts–you feel like it’s too good to be good for you. For my final cooking demonstration in school, I deep fried kale in coconut oil. It was a brave move for a natural foods school, but it lent the perfect hight and crunch I was looking for.

With winter quickly ushering in, let’s be thankful for one of the season’s best bounties: kale. Rich in nutrients and available all winter, this is one staple you won’t want to leave behind.

Kale is part of the Brassica oleracea family and shares kinship with cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and collard greens. (What a healthy family!) Now, we all know that leafy green things are good for you…but here is what makes kale so super fantastic: it’s rich in beta carotene, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium and lutein. Kale also has a super food chemical called sulforaphane that gives it cancer fighting power. As if that weren’t enough, kale also has a chemical called indole-3-carbinol that boosts DNA repair in cells and blocks the growth of cancer cells. Pretty good stuff, I’d say!

When shopping for kale, there are a few different varieties at our local grocery stores. I personally like the lacinato (or Tuscan) and curly leaf kales. Look for the brightest, biggest and perkiest bunch you can find. It will usually keep in the fridge for a week or so. If it goes floppy on you, you can still use it (just don’t use if it turns yellow). When you prepare kale, always remove the stem. The stem has a bitter flavor and tough texture.

Below is a simple recipe for my kale chips. You can also add things like parmesan, smoked paprika, tamari, curry powder, garlic powder–go crazy with your kale! I have used kale in a couple other posts like tuscan kale soup and a bacon sandwich with kale. Enjoy.

Kale Chips


5-8 stems of kale

2-3 teaspoons olive oil

generous sprinkling of salt and pepper

optional: add ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika


1. Pre-heat oven to 350°. Rinse kale and shake off excess water. Tear approximately 2” x 2” pieces of kale away from the stem. Arrange on a large, rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (and smoked paprika, if using). Toss vigorously with your hands, making sure that each leaf has some oil.

2. Bake for 8 minutes then shuffle the leaves around and pop back in for 8-10 more minutes. They should be just slightly browned and perfectly crisp.

Eat alone or as a topping for any main course.

Here is a quote from my Aunt Arlette, who has a great raw kale recipe to share:

Hi Jen,
Read you Kale blurb.  Very informative, I like the info.  Wanted to tell you I’ve been into whole raw foods lately.  Kale makes a wonderful salad with fresh garlic, olive oil, fresh lime squeezed and whatever else I have in the frige to make a nice salad.  I remove all stalks and a friend told me to crunch it up with fingers to soften it, but I find by removing all stems, it is great as is.
Love reading your blogs.  You are a special person.  I love you.
 Auntie Arlette
November 22, 2011

The Story of How I Recovered Ruby – plus a Turkey Day leftovers recipe

by Jen Wanous

There is nothing like pumpkin pie that gets you thinking about all the things you are grateful for.

This year, one thing I am thankful for is a stolen item being returned to me. You see, this past summer, my 1980’s red bike, Ruby, was stolen from her U-locked spot on a busy Brooklyn street. I was so bummed; my gem of a bike was gone. Walking was way overrated and slow. Since the theft happened two weeks before my birthday, I had a: “Get Jen a New Bike for Her Birthday” fundraiser. The outpouring of support from friends and family heartened me. With over a dozen supporters backing me, I found Dusty Rose my new pink rider, the exact same make and model as her darker hued predecessor, Ruby. With summer in full effect, I was back on two wheels, cycling through the city.

I would sometimes think of Ruby and wonder where she was. My eye would catch on red bikes, and I even perused Craig’s List thinking someday I would find her. Well, that day came when one night I was walking on Flatbush Ave., one block from where she was last parked. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her. She mustered out a wink from the grime-covered stars on her handlebars. I stopped dead in my tracks, hardly believing my eyes. Much more dirty and now with a thick link chain wrapped around her, there was no doubt about it, that was my Ruby!

Overjoyed, I thought through the options that were before me. I could either a) get the cops involved and get her back, b) stake out the location and confront the thief, or c) let it go, and avoid any potential drama. I posted these options on Facebook and had an overwhelming response for option A. With friends and family urging me along, I marched into the local precinct, proclaiming that I had recovered stolen property! The uniformed woman at the desk hardly looked up, scoffing in that beastly bureaucratic way, where you know the odds are against you. She didn’t want to hear about how the bell is the same silver one or see the picture of my dog in the basket. She said that I had to have a receipt with a serial number to prove ownership. Since that didn’t exist, I decided to take the law into my own hands.

With the best lock money can buy, I went over to Ruby and reclaimed her as mine, locking her frame to a pole. I left a note that read: “Hi-this is my bike that was stolen. I want to avoid getting the cops involved. Remove your lock if you want to save it.” Low and behold, the next day, I went back and the bulky chain of conquest had been removed. Ruby was mine again!

Reconciling loss is no easy task. Even with replacements, you still miss the original that your heart fell for. With a deep tenacity of spirit and the support of loved ones, it is possible to discover hope in new openings of opportunity. And when the rare opportunity presents itself to take back what is yours, you fight for it. I have learned many lessons about loss in my life and I am so thankful to have this experience of recovery as part of my story.

Pumpkin Curry with Turkey

Here is an answer for what to do with some of your leftover turkey. This Asian-inspired dish gives a spicy American nod to the festive season. You can use any left over vegetables to add in. You can also easily use baked tofu for a veggie alternative.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

16 oz coconut milk

16 oz pumpkin puree

½ cup broth or water

2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 hearty pinch ground nutmeg

1 hearty pinch cayenne (could be more, up to you:)

ground pepper to taste

juice of one lemon

1 cup cooked, pulled turkey

1 cup kale (or other green vegetable)

cilantro for garnish


1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until glassy, to really release the flavor. Add coconut milk, pumpkin, and broth until combine. Add seasonings: curry paste, salt, soy sauce, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, pepper and lemon. Then add the turkey and kale. Bring to a boil, simmer for five minutes.

2. Serve with brown rice or soba noodles. Garnish with cilantro.

November 14, 2011

A Birthday Brunch

by Jen Wanous

Scorpio season is in full effect! I spent the weekend celebrating these passionate and piercing people. Being the Gemini that I am, I accidentally double booked my Saturday night with two birthday dinners. Dang. As much as I have tried in my life, I actually can not be in two places at once. What’s a girl to do? Well, host a birthday brunch of course!

We feasted on both savory and sweet dishes. That morning, I found the most fragrant bunch of mint at the farmer’s market. Adding some slivers of the mint made for a special fruit salad with apples and persimmons.

~ Pumpkin Bread (gluten free)

~ Kale and Goat Cheese Frittata

~ Yam Home Fries with smoked paprika

~ Lemon and Thyme (star :) Biscuits

~ Apples and Persimmons with Mint

Jealous? Don’t be. Plan a brunch for your next special occasion. If you would like other brunch ideas or recipes, just ask, I’m happy to post them. A friend had requested a gluten-free, sugar-free pumpkin bread recipe. I took a try and it turned out soft and full of seasonal flavor. It stays moist in the fridge, thanks to the pumpkin puree. You can substitute gluten-full flour (2 1/2 cups ww flour) and real sugar if you would like. This recipe makes two small loafs.













Pumpkin Bread ~ Gluten Free

1 ½ cup brown rice flour

½ cup coconut flour

¼ cup tapioca flour

¼ cup ground flax meal

2 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

(or ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom)


¾ cup melted butter (unsalted)

1 cup maple crystals (or date sugar, or any dry sweetener)

¼ cup agave syrup

6 eggs

2 tablespoons molasses

1 ½ cup pumpkin puree

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of one lemon


1. Pre-heat oven to 350°. Grease a small loaf pan (7 x 4 x 3 inch).

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours, flax, baking powder, spices and salt.

3. In a large bowl, combine butter, sweeteners, eggs, molasses, pumpkin, vanilla and lemon zest.

4. Add the dry mixture to the wet. Stir until combine. Pour into the greased loaf pans. Bake on 350° for 35 minutes rotating the pan midway through baking. Let cool in the pan for 20 mins after baking. If you’re feeling pro-sugar, frost it! If not, make a pot of tea and enjoy!

November 1, 2011

How to Have a DIY Spa Day

by Jen Wanous

At the first sight of snow, I retreated indoors for a DIY (do it yourself) spa day. Who better to do this with than two of my lady friends? We watched the snow fall out the window and shook our heads in disbelief. It was October after all. Who said it could snow before Halloween!? Cozied up on the couch, warm rose and chamomile tea in-hand, we let the easy conversation of friendship guide us on our day of self care.

We each brought a selection of pampering treats to share. I packed my bag with a mineral mask, Goddess taro cards, and a bunch of kale. My friend Aimee brought a homemade coffee body scrub. (It smelled divine and worked well to moisturize our skin.) Gretchen hosted and prepared a grounding root vegetable soup. Together, we helped nourish each other from the inside and out.

It seems so indulgent to block out an entire day for self-care but the restorative effects can reverberate for weeks. Your body deserves indulgent relaxation to heal from the stressors of everyday life. Your mind and heart need time to be in communion with friends to restore your perspective.

Below are some ideas on how to make the most out of your own spa day. I have also included  Aimee’s salt scrub recipe and a great aftershave tonic that is much cheaper than its beauty store counterparts. Even if you can just do one special spa-like thing for yourself, do it, offering gratitude to your body.

 DIY Spa Ideas 

  • Take a bath, as the water drains out, feel what you are energetically letting go of
  • Yoga- bust out your mat and do a few sun salutations
  • Do free writes on what you’re grateful for or what your soul goals are
  • Mani/Pedi- bring colors to share- your same-old pink could be your friend’s new fave
  • Watch woman-power movies. eg, Steel Magnolias; Thelma and Louise; She Devil; 9 to 5 or Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Give yourself or a friend a taro card reading
  • Cook a healthy meal together

 Coffee Body Scrub 

Courtesy of Ms.Aimee Brown

1/2 cup coffee grounds
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons sea salt
1/3 cup brown or cane sugar
few drops of essential oil (try peppermint for a nice thin mint cookie / refreshing vibe)

It is easy to substitute a different oil or more/less salt and sugar depending on your desired consistency.

Shake well before using, ingredients will separate. Rub in circular motion on wet skin to exfoliate then rinse well.

 Aftershave Tonic 

This is an old gem I’ve made for years. When applied after hair removal, it wards off irritation. It does sting a little bit but the sting goes away quickly. You can even try a dab on a pesky pimple to dry it out.

30 uncoated or light coated aspirin
8 ounces rubbing alcohol
5 ounces  witch hazel

Crush the aspirin in a mortal and pestle, coffee grinder, or in a zip lock and roll a rolling pin over it. Crush until it is the consistency of a fine powder. Combine with liquids. Shake well before each use. Rinse hands after use.