Maple Massaged Kale Salad

I recently discovered that Trader Joe’s sells bags of pre-washed and already cut organic tuscan kale.  I don’t know about you, but I always find the process of washing and cutting or ripping kale to be tedious and time consuming.  So, I was excited when I saw the last bag on the shelf this past weekend.

Cathrine loves massaged kale salads.  Her favorite is Whole Foods’ garlicky kale salad (a replication is next on my list).  But first, we have a maple massaged kale salad that is the perfect combination of sweet and salty.  The sweet from the maple syrup and the salty from the coconut aminos.  It’s simple, delicious, and quick so it can easily be made during the week.  We had it last night for dinner along with a bowl of slow cooker stew.

Kale is a power house vegetable- filled with nutrients.

One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.  Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds. Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.  Source

By massaging the kale with a couple spoonfuls of dressing (recipe below), the crunchy tough leaves become silky and tender.

Maple Massaged Kale Salad



2 cups kale (I used tuscan)

1 carrot, shredded

A couple pinches of raw sunflower seeds


half a tablespoon olive oil

half a tablespoon maple syrup

half a tablespoon coconut aminos

Whisk olive oil, maple syrup, and coconut aminos together until combined.  Taste and adjust the flavor to your liking.  Some prefer it sweeter or saltier than others.  Divide kale and carrot among two bowls.  Place a couple spoonfuls, about two, of dressing in each bowl and massage the dressing into the kale with your fingers until the kale is tender.  Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and enjoy.


Friday Favorites

Trader Joes Harvest Tea

I’ve been enjoying the Harvest Blend Herbal Tea from Trader Joe’s.  I have a cup every morning after Cathrine leaves for work.  It’s perfect for 5:30-6 in the morning.  It just smells like fall and has a lot of flavor.  I can’t get enough of it.

Born Shoes

My old black flats have seriously seen a better day.  The material is obviously fraying around the heel and toe.  They also have almost no cushioning, so I always had to walk slowly so I didn’t put too much pressure on my heel.  A replacement was imminent and necessary.  These Born black flats are quickly becoming my favorite shoe.  They are comfortable, have the padding that my other pair lacked, and fit perfectly with a pair skinny jeans.

Chan Luu Scarf

When Cathrine first gave me this Chan Luu scarf, I thought I would never wear it.  I thought it was silly expensive and too bulky.  I left it with my other scarves for a while.  I’d try it on and eventually end up choosing another.  However, now I’m so glad I gave it so many chances.  I love it and wear it any opportunity I can.  It’s soft and just substantial enough that it feels cozy around your neck.


I had always admired Heath Ceramics and dreamed about owning one of their pieces.  Perhaps eventually even a set of dishes.  But for now, I’m satisfied with this pitcher.

Workout Pants

These capri workout pants in black from Athleta are my absolute favorite.  I own two pairs and base when I need to do laundry on whether or not they are clean.

Cathrine is travelling this weekend, you can track her travels here, so I’m off to cuddle up on the couch with a copy of The Circle.  I joined the Blend book club that Caitlin from the Healthy Tipping Point is organizing and I’m afraid that I’m very behind.  I just got the book last week.

Happy Friday!

Anatomy of a Party

This past Saturday we hosted what’s becoming our annual fall party.  A party where we pretend it’s not 80 degrees outside with palm trees and flowering bougainvillea but rather there is the perfect crispness in the air, a blanket of crunchy leaves on every lawn and sidewalk, and the aroma of spices warms each household.  We filled our home with oranges, burnt reds, and subtle yellows and brought elements found in nature inside.  It’s an evening where we soak up all things fall.


We kept the decorations simple and used as many natural elements as possible, most of them originating in Massachusetts.  On my last trip, I brought as many pine cones and pine needles as my carry on bag could hold.

For the table, we filled mason jars with acorns and Mexican Pumpkin votive candles from World Market.  We a jar in the center with fall colored flowers and surrounded it with candles, mini pumpkins, gourds, and pine needles.  We used this table runner from World Market as well.  In person it’s a bit more burnt red color.  Very simple but it left enough space on the table for food and drink.

candles, pumpkins, and gourds

For the side table, leaving room for people to set their drinks, we filled a glass circular vase in pine cones and placed two birch candles on either side.  We also had a leaf tray with candle corn, but being new to blogging, I forgot to take a before picture…..guess we all have our weaknesses.  There were liquid amber leaves for a bit more color.  

SIde Table 2

We had quite the spread of food.  I wish I got a picture of everything.  For appetizers, we had:

Chese Plate 2

Cheese and cracker plate (as I mentioned earlier, I forgot to take a picture on the actual day….from Trader Joe’s cracker assortment box, we originally served the vegetable, wheat, and original crackers.)  We have these cloth cocktail napkins and we just love them.

Tortilla chips with homemade pico de gallo using Against All Grain’s recipe (it’s so delicious!)

Baked polenta with agave ricotta (Slice polenta, bake at 400 degrees on a piece of parchment paper for appoximately 15-20 minutes or until crispy.  Once baked, let cool.  In the meantime, mix about 1 cup of ricotta with agave until it is the desired sweatness.  Once the polenta has cooled, scoop a little less than a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on top each slice of polenta.)


For the main course, I made two batches of sweet potato and sausage soup.  For the meat eaters I used Mulay’s Mild Italian Sausage and for the vegetarians, I used Field Roast’s Italian Sausage.  This is the best non-meat sausage we’ve found.  I love that it doesn’t have soy and is made from real ingredients.  I used vegetable broth for both.  Cathrine just loves this soup…..I made her a batch before I went to the east coast earlier this month and she happily ate it for many days in a row.

We also made a delicata squash with kale and white beans salad.  I frequently do what most people say not to but this was the first time we’ve made this salad and we served it to other people.  But we love delicata squash and were fairly confident that it would come out!  We used cannellini beans instead of cranberry.

For drinks we had a couple bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and hard cider.  For our signature drink, we made a mulled cider and served it with a shot of Maker’s Mark bourbon.  These seemed quite popular.  There also was the usual selection of liquor and mixers.

For dessert we had two different kind of grain free pumpkin cookies.  I started off making pumpkin pie sugar cookies but I burned half of them and didn’t have enough ingredients to repeat the recipe, so I made a half batch of almond pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to fill out the plate.  Both were tasty!


All in all, it was fun getting ready for it and even more fun spending time with friends.  Even if part of the conversation was dedicated to Cathrine explaining mileage running with lots of FlyerTalk lingo….Our friends did ask.

Simple Egg Salad

Over here we’ve been continuing to get back into the groove of having salads for lunch.  With an upcoming trip for the both of us to Washington, D.C. next weekend, a couple international mileage runs for Cathrine, and a Thanksgiving trip, the next month or so will be filled with travel so I’m feeling like we need to make our time home count and eat lots of nutritious meals.  While we both really enjoy travelling, it can be hard to stick to healthy eating and make time to exercise, no matter how lofty my pre-travel goals are.  We’ll talk about my holiday/travel goals soon.

This egg salad has been a staple in our household for a while now.  It’s refreshing, filling, and simple to make.  Great for a weekday lunch or when you don’t have much in your fridge.  You can make it the night before and keep it in the fridge or you can put it together right before.  My preference is to make it the night before because it gives some time for the eggs to cool.

All put together

Simple Egg Salad


2 eggs

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


1 carrot

5-6 cherry tomatoes

Handful of mixed baby greens

Small bunch of microgreens


Place two eggs in a small pot and add water so the eggs are fully submerged.  Bring the water to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Drain eggs and let cool before peeling.  Once eggs are cool, peel 1 egg and chop in quarters.  Peel second egg, discard the yolk, and chop egg white in quarters.  Place both chopped eggs in a small bowl.  Add 1 peeled and diced carrot, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar to the bowl with the eggs.  Using a knife, mix and chop the eggs so it is all combined.  I like to still have a crunch in mine, so I leave my carrots a bit on the bigger side.  Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper on top.

Egg Salad


Place a handful of mixed baby greens and top with a bunch of microgreens in a bowl.

Lettuce and Micro GreensAdd the egg salad and top with 5 to 6 cherry tomatoes cut in half.

photo (39)Then enjoy!

Any recommendations for must do/see in D.C.?  We’ll only be there for the weekend.



Lime Avocado Salad with Red Pepper and Tomatoes

Whenever I’ve been travelling, I always look forward to getting back into eating healthy when I get back.  I certainly let myself indulge a bit while I am away.  Sweets and carbs are probably the places where I splurge the most.  And I’m known to take advantage of the free snacks and drinks offered in the airport lounges and eat things like cheese and crackers, yogurt covered pretzels, salty snack mix along with a glass of white wine.  It helps with any flying jitters.    

We have been travelling quite a bit lately and while I enjoy exploring news places and nice dinners out, what I was calling my “summer of indulgence” has turned into a “fall of indulgence” and I’m feeling like it’s time to get back on track.

For the past two days, I’ve made this simple salad for lunch.  It’s quick to make with the perfect amount of citrus to give it a pop of flavor when you take a bit.

Lime Avocado Salad with Red Pepper and Tomatoes

(Inspired by Whole Living Avocado with Bell Peppers and Tomatoes recipe)



1/2 a red pepper

1 avocado

Splash of lime juice

Pinch of salt

5-6 cherry tomatoes

Handful of mixed baby greens

Small bunch of microgreens


Slice avocado in half and scoop the filling into a small bowl.  Chop half of a red pepper into bit size pieces and place in the bowl with the avocado.  Pour a splash of lime juice on top of the avocado and red pepper and add a pinch of salt.  Mix thoroughly.  Put a handful of baby greens and a couple pinches of microgreens into a bowl.  Place the avocado and red pepper salad on top.  Slice 6 cherry tomatoes in half and place them on the top.  Enjoy!

*Serves one

Honey Coconut Roasted Acorn Squash

Fall in Southern California is somewhat different than the fall I am accustomed to.  Even though I’ve lived here for three years, each year I still find myself longing for fall.  The fall I remember from the east coast- the crisp air, blue skies, colorful mountain and hill sides, crunchy leaves, lots of hiking, fresh apples, pumpkin farms, dried corn stalks, scarves, sweaters, tall boots, I could go on.  Here, it takes a bit more effort to foster a feeling of fall, especially since it has been in the mid-80’s this week!  It’s not quite time for scarves, sweaters, and boots……at least, not yet.  For some of the elements that I find myself missing, I need to remember patience.  That in a few weeks or months, I too will be able to wear a cozy scarf but for now, I should enjoy my shorts and sundresses for a bit longer.  For others, we work to create and savor them in our household.  

After a recent trip to Massachusetts, we brought back Mackintosh apples, fresh ginger, and garlic from the local farmer’s market.  I enjoyed an apple every day for almost two weeks.  Since living in California, I’ve found myself loving Mackintosh apples even more than before I moved.  I think I always took their constant presence for granted.  

One way we enjoy fall is in the kitchen.  Making plenty of squash and pumpkin dishes.  This roasted acorn squash roasted with honey, coconut oil, and thyme has been a favorite lately.  We first made it a couple of weeks ago and since then, we have already made it three more times, because it is just THAT good.  This last time was the first time that I was able to get a picture.  Each of the previous times, we ate it too quickly for me to snap a picture.

Acorn Squash

Honey Coconut Roasted Acorn Squash


1 acorn squash

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

1 generous tablespoon melted raw honey

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and cut the acorn squash in half.  Remove the seeds (save for roasting later).  Place the squash in a shallow baking dish with the center facing up.  Mix the melted coconut oil, melted raw honey, apple cider vinegar, and dried thyme in a small bowl.  Divide the sauce evenly between the two squash halves, pouring into the center.  Using a brush, coat the inside of the squash with the sauce.  Bake until the squash is soft, approximately 40 to 60 minutes.  Every 20 minutes, use a brush to coat the squash with the sauce.  Enjoy!

* For the seeds- I wash them and then roast them for 5-10 minutes on a rimmed metal baking sheet at 400 degrees.  You can top them with this about anything- I’ve done salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.


Spring Rolls

Lately we have been enjoying spring rolls for lunch.  These are light yet filling and they keep us feeling satisfied well after lunch.  What I love about them is that they are flexible.  The possibilities of what you include in them are endless.  I tend to always include a combination of textures, flavors, and levels of crunchiness.  Not too crunchy and not to soft.

I usually make them the night before and store them in the fridge so they are ready for Cathrine to take when she leaves for work early (like 6am early!).

Ingredients (serves 2, makes 4 spring rolls)

Spring Rolls

  • 8 spring roll wrappers
  • 1 organic carrot
  • 1 stalk organic celery
  • 4 slices of jicama
  • 4 organic red leaf lettuce leaves
  • 2 slices organic firm tofu
  • 12 organic basil leaves

* I’ve also used mint or cilantro instead of basil, spinach instead of red leaf lettuce, rice noodles instead of tofu, endive instead of jicama.

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons Braggs
  • 2 teaspoons organic Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon organic peanut butter (we use fresh ground, low salt)
  • A generous sprinkle of organic garlic powder

Spring Roll Preparation and Assembly

Wash, peel, and slice the carrot lengthwise into four pieces then cut in half (making 8 slices).

Wash and cut the celery stalk the same way as the carrot.

Wash, peel, and slice the jicama into four small pieces.

Wash and break each red leaf lettuce leaf in half.

Cut two slices of tofu and then divide each slice into four pieces.

Elements of one roll


Group the ingredients together for each roll.  This allows for quick and easy assembly once the spring roll wrappers are ready.


Spring roll wrappers


In a shallow sauce pan, heat enough water so you can fully submerge one spring roll wrapper.  The water should be warm but not hot.  Once it is this temperature, turn off the burner.  Evenly submerge a spring roll wrapper into the water and wait until it is soft (about 30 seconds, depending on how warm the water is).


Place the wrapper on a thin towel, place the filling on top, and roll the spring roll.


After the spring roll is wrapped, place a new spring roll wrapper into the water and repeat the steps again.  I like to use two spring roll wrappers on each spring roll.  If the water gets too cool, just heat it back up again.

Dipping Sauce

In a small container, combine Braggs, organic olive oil, organic peanut butter, and a generous sprinkle of organic garlic powder.


Stir until well combined.


I usually divide it into two containers for Cathrine to take one to work so I can have one for my lunch too.

Enjoy dipped in a little sauce!


Let us know if you try them and what you like in your spring rolls!  We could love to hear.