Kale Dip and Veggie Spaghetti

15 May

This kale dip is not something I would have normally tried, but I decided to give it a shot after finding the recipe on Dr. Preston Maring’s blog. He is an OB-GYN physician who supports healthy eating as a powerful form of preventive medicine. In 2003, he started the first weekly Farmer’s Market at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center to provide patients and medical staff with easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  Today, there are many Farmer’s Markets open at various KP facilities. It’s a pretty awesome concept- bring the healthy goodies to the people, who may otherwise not have access to such ingredients (or perhaps the inclination to seek them), and they will eat!

The kale dip can be used as a dipping sauce, as shown above, or even as a spread for sandwiches and pita pockets. It is quite tasty, considering it is packed full with leafy greens, and makes it easier and more enjoyable to eat raw vegetables. My little brother was eating carrot sticks with this kale dip!! I was seriously amazed.

According to WebMD, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. It has a high concentration of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K, and is a good source of the minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale protects against cancer with its high concentration of carotenoids and flavonoids (specific antioxidants with anti-cancer benefits). In addition, its high fiber content lowers blood cholesterol by binding bile acids and facilitating their excretion from the body. Basically, the bile acids are lost in the stool. (Yes, I’m using vivid medical terminology here.) When there are less bile acids returning to the liver, the liver converts cholesterol in your blood into bile acids, which lowers your total blood cholesterol. In fact, medications that perform this same function are known as “bile acid sequestrants” and are prescribed to lower LDL cholesterol. Kale’s cholesterol-lowering abilities are enhanced when it is cooked instead of raw. Bottom line: kale is really, really good for you!

Kale Dip
 
Serves 4
 
1 half bunch of kale, thick stems removed and thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup lowfat cottage cheese
1 tablespooon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch red chili flakes (or more for a dip with a kick)
 
Saute the garlic and kale in olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Let cool. Process in a food processor (I tried using a blender but it would not mix well because the kale was too bulky). Add the cottage cheese and process some more. Add the lemon juice, salt, and chili flakes, and process until smooth. Serve as a dip with raw veggies or crackers, or as a spread for sandwiches and pita pockets.
 
 

Now on to the main course –> spaghetti! Who doesn’t love spaghetti? It’s delicious, incredibly easy to make, and can be very healthy when you make the sauce from scratch. I have not tried it this way before (usually a bottle of my favorite sauce from Trader Joe’s will suffice) but I thought I should try to incorporate fresh vegetables into the dish. I didn’t peel my tomatoes and the sauce was just fine. Also, I tipped some plain marinara sauce into it towards the end because it looked a bit dry. So yes, it is handy to have a bottle of marinara on standby in case your tomatoes are not juicy enough and your sauce needs a boost! The celery, carrots, and basil make this sauce just YUM. Toss with spaghetti noodles, sprinkle some parmigiano reggiano cheese on it, and you’re good to go!

Italian Tomato Sauce (Basic Recipe)- Joy of Cooking
 
Enough for 1 pound pasta
 
Heat in a large skillet over medium heat: 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 
Add:
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk with leaves, finely chopped
 
Cook, stirring, until the onions are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
 
Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in:
2.5 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, if desired, seeded, and coarsely chopped (or large can of whole tomatoes)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and ground black pepper to taste.
 
Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. 
 

Dinner is served

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12 Responses to “Kale Dip and Veggie Spaghetti”

  1. 2 Rivers Photos May 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    First time I heard of Kale was like 6 months ago… now I see it everywhere. Must’ve been living under a rock all these years 🙂

    • luvnorcal May 15, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

      Haha you and me both! I heard about it from someone at work a couple months ago, so I thought I’d try it out. Now I notice kale everywhere too. Maybe it’s like the new fro-yo! Haha, I wish 🙂

  2. debbrunson May 16, 2012 at 3:16 am #

    Both of these recipes look fantastic! And I love your shout out to Farmers’ Markets 🙂 I didn’t realize Kaiser was having markets at/near their facilities… that’s awesome.

    • luvnorcal May 16, 2012 at 3:29 am #

      Thank you! And yes Kaiser has done a really good job with these Farmers’ Markets, here is a link to all the different locations across the country: https://members.kaiserpermanente.org/redirects/farmersmarkets/ What a great way to support their “thrive” message 🙂 (I love your blog btw, and thanks for visiting mine!)

      • debbrunson May 16, 2012 at 4:14 am #

        Wow! Thanks for the link- that is truly awesome 🙂

  3. kimthedietitian May 17, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    I will have to try your kale recipe. Bile sequestrants are great. I’ve been doing oatmeal and barley for that purpose already. One can never have too many bile sequestrants!

    • luvnorcal May 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      Yes, go bile sequestrants! 🙂 You should definitely give this recipe a shot, and let me know if you make any improvements on it! It needs some more experimenting I think. It’s a good dip for veggies and crackers but not finger lickin’ good. I guess it’s hard for anything with so much kale to fall under that category, haha.

      • kimthedietitian May 17, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

        I accept the challenge! It probably just needs a little tweaking, maybe a little less kale (haha). I’ll let you know.

      • luvnorcal May 17, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

        You might be right, I doubled the recipe and used a huge bunch of kale. I thought I would stuff in all the nutrition I could, haha. Yes, do let me know how it turns out!

      • kimthedietitian May 18, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

        Yep, I think too much of a good thing – or in this case, too much bile sequestering (!) – may have made it less tasty. I modified it and . . . YUMM! I am going to put some on my rice cakes instead of hummus right now.

        Here’s what I changed: just 1/2 bunch of kale (turned out to be 5 or 6 stalks) which I cut up a bit before cooking in the olive oil with two instead of one garlic clove. Then I added the lemon, just 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, 1/2 of a ripe avocado and a few dashes of cayenne pepper. I don’t like it too spicy, so that was the right amount for me.

        Truly delish! And I also like the idea that I added some good fat with the avocado – a few extra calories, but good ones. My batch made about 1 1/2 cups, so I would guess each 2 TBS serving would be about 40 calories. Let me know what you think, and thanks for the project. That was fun!

      • luvnorcal May 18, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

        Yay Kim! Great modifications. I love the idea of avocado, will give it that yummy creaminess and also the fat that it’s missing. I definitely added too much kale last time, was overzealous with my efforts to be healthy haha. I’m going to try this new one out too! Glad you enjoyed the project, thanks for the tips! Let’s collaborate again, haha 🙂

      • kimthedietitian May 19, 2012 at 2:53 am #

        Great! Thanks for the chance to eat kale. It’s been a while. Have a great weekend!

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