Saturday, January 16, 2016

Holy Kale!

When our youngest son left for college last fall, we missed him like crazy.

But there were a few upsides. Less laundry. Cheaper grocery and utility bills. Cleaner home. More freedom.

And as it turns out a few unexpected downsides. With our smaller nest, meal planning and grocery shopping seemed a big chore. Really, isn't it just as easy and no more expensive to eat out? We fell into the trap of eating out too often . . . and even worse, drifted into eating in front of the television. After so many years of family meals at the table, I was just worn out. My zest for cooking gone.

But, after a few months, eating out lost its charm. Too expensive. Portions too large and too salty. Food overly processed or just not tasty. We both found ourselves missing my cooking and our time together over a really good meal.

We've slowly weaned ourselves away from unhealthful foods – limiting sugar, pasta and white bread. No cookies, chips or junk food in our pantry. But as we cut back on less healthy food choices, we were left with a void.

We need some new new recipes, some different ways of cooking with new ingredients and methods, and we're in this together. I'm the chef and my husband is the line cook. He does what I tell him to do. I like this. He does not. He says I'm irritable when I'm hungry.

From time to time, I'll share our cooking adventures here.
Part food photography.
Part recipe review.
We'll cook our way to health and happiness.

Tonight's meal was this Power Green Salad from Sprouted Kitchen that tastes as good as it looks.

This crunchy salad features kale, black lentils, chopped apple and cucumber, toasted pumpkin seeds, and parmesan cheese with a honey dijon dressing. As any good cook will do, I tweaked the recipe a bit - adding a little more or less of each ingredient according to our preferences. I don't care for garlic, so I only used a half a clove in the dressing, and I didn't add any salt at all. We found black lentils at Target in a pouch, already cooked - a big time saver.

Next up, I plan to try a few recipes from the latest book by Anna Jones, a modern way to cook

I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Please send or post recipes you've found to be tried and true.  Many thanks from the Chef and her helper.

And, have you watched the PBS show, A Chef's Life?  It's a wonderful mixture of reality and food and southern charm. A great warm-up for an afternoon in the kitchen!


  1. It really is too tempting to eat out being empty nesters, but a home cooked meal is more satisfying. I'm looking forward to more of your new recipes!

  2. I agree Donna, changes in a family (like our children leaving the nest one after another) lead to new habits and particularly in our relation to eating and cooking.
    Firstly, we feel free to part from a regularly scheduled, diversified and healthy way of serving family meals... and we enjoy to eat outside and have plenty of time for ourselves... there's nothing wrong in this...
    Your short experience of what you expected as a relief and a gain of time sadly turned into disappointment... but fortunately became a spark to realize that meals are never more healthy than at home... and that preparing them with love, trying new recipes and involving your husband in a common preparation would be such rewarding moments...

  3. I can relate to being irritable when hungry--I need to come with a warning label because irritable is much too mild a word.
    I love to cook too but I am such a messy cook that I rarely post pictures of what I have made, but yours are beautiful! That salad looks delicious!

  4. I totally agree on the chore of cooking for less than average. Try cooking just for one! Boring is the word that comes to mine. I had a chuckle over your husband saying you are less than sweet when you are hungry. Who isn't? It does take a while to adjust to changes in the household, for sure. I enjoy trying new recipes and always have even when there was 2 of us. For me that will keep me on track, well mostly still love my sweets.

  5. We have drifted into the same boat of eating out way too much; it's just easier. But like you I have become convicted that it's not as healthy and it is costly so I have been trying to cook more at home. Crockpot meals are fast becoming a way of life. They are easy and less time consuming. I do look forward to seeing the recipes you share with us. I am always looking for new ideas.....

  6. I'm so fortunate that I have a husband that cooks...well he has to or he wouldn't eat since I don't...never learned...never had the desire. BUT, I am constantly sending him recipes I find on the magazines...or through I keep him busy in the kitchen. He's a gourmet cook (I think being a pharmacist has something to do with it, ha) even though we love to eat out...I always tell him he could do it better. Love that you are embracing eating at home...photographing...and sharing!

  7. Food is a big issue for us, since the Dreamer has a very picky palette. When I cook at home, I usually end up cooking something for me and then something different for him. We enjoy eating out, and do so a lot. But we almost always split an entree, and no drinks, so it really is quite affordable for us. That said, I love to cook and used to cook quite a lot {in my previous life}. I'd actually like to do more cooking at home in 2016. Looking forward to more of your recipes!

  8. Hi Donna-very informative and from the heart post. On those rare occasions when a few celebratory restaurant nights fall on the same week? I can only go so long with out cooking! Glad of that. Good luck weaning yourselves off the food "crack"!

  9. I have no talent for planning or cooking meals, but I have fun being a lead chef's line cook, lol..My sister and I have had some awesome evenings drinking wine and making our family meals with her being the lead chef, me the line cook :-) BTW, beautiful photos!

  10. I can totally relate to the empty nest and not wanting to cook. Having had to watch my weight for so many years, I was never tempted to go out during the week. We usually eat at home during the week and maybe go out on Friday or Saturday night. I don't cook fancy anymore like you are doing, just good, fresh food. I love the sounds of your salad though and I'll br looking forward to more of your food posts.


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