My Idea of Comfort Food

by Gena on May 4, 2009

dinner-61

As always, guys, thank you for the thoughtful responses to “The Power of Choice.” I want to make clear that the logic of that article works in both directions: you should also feel proud of your restaurant selections or food choices when you happen to be ordering more heartily than your companions. No matter what the case, the point is to eat with proud and confidence.

A few of you has asked me what my favorite food is. It should come as no surprise: it’s emblazoned on my banner! I could eat several avocados eat day (and frequently do) from now till eternity without tiring of them. But second to avocados are two other special favorites: kale and sweet potatoes.

We all have some surefire dinners that we rely on, meals so easy and familiar to prepare that we could throw them together in our sleep. For some, it’s Annie’s mac and cheese. For others, it’s a quick soup. For still others, it’s a veggie burger with sweet potato fries.

For me (and many raw foodists), it’s kale salad—often alongside a steamed sweet potato. It’s one of my favorite weeknight dinners—easy and nutrient rich. (For the record, the meal is also light enough to serve as a filling lunch on a busy day).

There are two versions of kale salad I love to make. The first includes avocado, which I rub into the raw kale along with lemon juice and salt and a touch of agave or stevia. The second, modeled after the kale salad at Bonobos, is kale, peppers, and carrots tossed in a lemon vinaigrette (lemon, flax oil, and agave/stevia whisked together). Again,  massage the kale with your dressing and sea salt a bit for it to soften.

You can certainly make the salad with both the vinaigrette and an avocado or two, as I show in my recipe tab, but I find that one fat source is rich enough.

Last night, after a busy weekend, I threw together the vinaigrette version along with a sweet potato that I had baked, sliced into rounds, rubbed with coconut oil, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. It hit the spot, just as it always does. As the first installment in what I’ll call my “Weeknight Classics” series, I present the finished plate:

dinner-5

dinner-31

Yum. I ate what was on the plate and another serving of the salad.

I’m meeting a good friend at Quintessence for dinner soon: I’ll be sure to chronicle the meal with my camera like a good blogger! Hope you’ve all had a great day.

xo

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelby May 4, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Kale + Sweet Potatoes = Two of my very favorite foods!!!

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Emily May 4, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Hi Gena ~
This looks divine! I have a quick question: In Natalia’s latest book she references baking in butter because the structure doesn’t change. Does the same go for coconut oil do you know?
Thank you :) Emily.

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Natalia is actually not a fan of the coconut oil because she believes it’s un-ideal for digestion (and she discourages too many oils for women).

I agree about excessive oil consumption, but this is where I, as a vegan, tend to part ways with Natalia: I think organic butter is a fine option, but I prefer a non-animal source of fat. Coconut oil IS stable in heating (up to very high temps) and it’s also very healthy and nourishing. Enjoy it!

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Emily. May 4, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Thanks Gena! I might try using the same quantity on my sweet potatoes next time I bake them and see how I feel afterward :)

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Heather May 4, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Avocados are hands down my number one favorite food, too. How can people not like them? My co-workers stared at me today as I ate a whole one for lunch. The above meal looks so delicious that I think I might have it for dinner tomorrow night. Thanks for the inspiration!

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CoconutGal May 4, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Yum!! Looks so delicious :-)
I have a couple questions- you mention you can use stevia or agave in the salad. Just curious, what do you use? And why? (I am always interested in the sweetener debate)
And, your photos are fabulous!! My salads never look as bright and beautiful, did you enhance the color at all?!
Thanks for reminding me how easy dinner can be and it doesn’t have to be a big production to prepare something healthy to eat, rather than 4 bananas and globs of almond butter :)

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Hey there! Welcome!

I use stevia more than agave; I don’t like to add sugar to my diet when I don’t need to. Many recipes (desserts, for instance!) demand natural sweetness, and I don’t shy away from it when that’s the case, but I’ll always avoid too much of it in a dressing or other food that tastes perfectly delicious with stevia.

Good timing: my attitude towards sweeteners and sweet foods (fruit) is the topic of the question of the week, so stay tuned!

Gena

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lauren May 4, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Great meal! 2 of my favorites!! Oh and I am an avocado addict! :) LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM! Simple meals are the best. Can’t wait to hear about Quintessence, I’ve been dying to go there!

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Hi babe! It was, alas, a little too quiet tonight, so we went to Caravan instead. But I love Quintessence.

And glad you liked supper: I could live off of avos, kale, and sweet potatoes. The. End.

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Natalie May 4, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Hi Gena,

I discovered your blog by reading Jenna’s blog and I just want to say thank you for listing all of the places in NYC to eat raw/vegetarian food! As a new vegetarian I like to know that I have options other than randomness on citysearch! Keep up the fantastic work… I’m thoroughly enjoying reading about a raw food diet… I became much more interested after reading an issue of Natural Health and Carol Alt discussed her way of eating. I can’t thank you enough… I’m totally going to give one lucky duck a try very very soon.

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Gena May 5, 2009 at 9:26 am

Hi Natalie!

Welcome to my blog! So happy you’re here.

Alas, Quintessence was very quiet last night and we were in the mood for some background din, so we went to Caravan of Dreams instead. But I will definitely try to give you a sense of many fun spots to eat!

Gena

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Laura May 4, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Amazing looking dinner! I love all the vibrant colors.

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Amber May 4, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Kale, ava’s and sweet potatoes are my fave’s as well. Add tomatos and I could live on that.

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Marlena Torres May 5, 2009 at 3:53 am

YUM! That looks so good! I usually don’t use kale in my salads but started using it with romaine with tahini based dressings with lots of basil and cilantro! It’s so good. I put the kale in food processor so that it was easier to chew :)

I cannot wait to see your post on Quintessence…I ate there once- AMAZING! I can’t even remember what I ate though, some sort of ravioli that was perfectly divine.

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Gena May 5, 2009 at 9:28 am

Marlena,

See the above comment to Natalie about Quintessence! But don’t worry: I love it dearly, and I will be going back soon!

Kale is so spectacular.

Gena

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Metta May 5, 2009 at 6:06 am

I have fallen in love with your blog, thank you for what you contribute to the blogging community. My favorite things is that while you eat raw, you aren’t overly strict with yourself or others – hence the baked sweet potato. I think this is why I enjoy your blog, and Natalia Rose, so much.

BTW – sweet potatoes and kale are a huge favorite for me – they are a delicious pair!

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Gena May 5, 2009 at 9:28 am

Thank you SO much, Metta! Keep reading!

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Jenna May 5, 2009 at 6:55 am

i love the simplicity of this great looking dinner!

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anne May 5, 2009 at 8:21 am

Hi Gena!

I agree about avocados, sweet potatoes and kale! All three are wonderful! Could you further explain how you “massage” your dressing or avocado in the kale?

thanks for all the great ideas!

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Gena May 5, 2009 at 9:29 am

Hi Anne,

Super simple: just rub it all with your hands! There’s truly no magic trick. You’ll have to rub a little harder with avocado, but you’ll get it all together. Use sea salt, too. Enjoy it!

Gena

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Janessa May 5, 2009 at 9:15 am

Do you always use kale, or do you sometimes make salads out of mustard greens or collard greens? I’ve been gravitating more towards mustard greens lately, but is one necessarily better for you than the other, or is it a matter of personal taste?

Love your blog!

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Gena May 5, 2009 at 9:30 am

Hey Janessa,

Love your blog :)

Mustard greens are great too. ALL dark leafy greens are wonderful foods: it’s just a matter of which you like the most. Kale is my favorite, but I enjoy beet, mustard, and collards, too. I’m also a huge fan of arugula.

Gena

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Kathleen May 5, 2009 at 10:49 am

Sweet Potatoes are my absolute favorite comfort food. I just wanted to share a quick tip. I am currently out of town without a high speed blender but I really wanted to make Pumpkin Pie in a Bowl. Instead of cubing the sweet potato (or butternut squash), I shaved it into thin strips with a hand peeler. I used a
regular blender and it did just fine! Yum.

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Gena May 5, 2009 at 11:44 am

Awesome tip, Kathleen! Thanks!

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Lacey May 5, 2009 at 10:54 am

I love sweet potatoes! I eat them raw, baked, in the form of fries they are just good stuff ;-D

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Hangry Pants May 5, 2009 at 11:01 am

I’ve never had kale – can you believe it?

How long does it take to steam sweet potaotes – they look like a nice soft alternative to baked.

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Gena May 5, 2009 at 11:45 am

What?! Surely you jest!

You know what? I’m envious. This reminds me of the college professor who didn’t read MRS. DALLOWAY because she wanted to have something to look forward to later in life. You have so much to anticipate! Kale rocks.

It’s fast! Slice them into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds and steam for about 15 minutes. Easy, easy.

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Bianca- Vegan Crunk May 5, 2009 at 11:45 am

I love, love sweet potatoes! In fact, I’m having some for dinner tonight in a vegan quesadilla. On the kale, I’ve never tried massaged kale, but I’m not a fan of it raw because of its tough texture. I know massaging softens it, but if I, say, marinated some in an oil & vinegar dressing overnight, would it get too soft? I’ve been wanting to try that.

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Gena May 5, 2009 at 11:46 am

No way. Marinated kale is GREAT overnight! I ate leftovers from that giant salad for lunch yesterday.

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vegan on stage May 5, 2009 at 6:43 pm

MY FAVORITE!!!!! yesterday for dinner I had a steamed sweet potato and steamed kale..:) yummy yummy

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earthmother May 5, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I practically lived on massaged kale/avo salads, blended soups, and baked sweet potatoes (drizzled with coconut butter) all winter long.

I live in the arctic tundra. So many folks think that you can’t do raw in the winter. Well, this is how you do it. And, enjoy it. YUMMMMMMM. :D

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Kaya May 8, 2009 at 10:08 am

Hi! I’ve recently stumbled across your site and love it! Thanks for sharing so much great information!

A quick question – steaming the sweet potatoes for that long, I assume that means they go over 118 and are no longer “raw”? Do you have a raw alternative?

Thanks!

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Gena May 8, 2009 at 11:19 am

Thank you, Kaya!

I don’t have a raw alternative: I’m high-raw, which means I eat raw almost all the time, but I do incorporate some cooked vegetables and grains into my diet. I eat raw potatoes blended in soups only. You COULD slice potatoes thinly and marinate them, though: and even dehydrate as “chips” after.

Gena

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Erin May 23, 2009 at 10:06 am

I think we have the same place mats and napkins :) Are yours from Crate and Barrel?

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Christine February 3, 2010 at 9:43 am

I tried a version of your Massaged Kale Salad…It was fabo! I am not raw, but I am inspired to incorporate more raw dishes/meals into my life because of your blog :) Have you been to Pure Food & Wine in NYC? I heard it is delicious!!

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Sylvia March 10, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Just wanted to comment that I made this kale salad for my non-vegan, hamburger loving boyfriend with a few adjustments, and he LOVED it! I felt good. ha

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Kim April 17, 2010 at 12:48 am

This salad is SO good, and I love bringing it to work because the kale holds up with the dressing instead of getting soggy like with a spring mix. Plus it freaks out my coworkers to see me walking around with “salad hands.” My boyfriend didn’t like it so much b/c of the hard kale stems. I’ll keep eating it since it’s fun & easy to make, very satisfying with the avocado, and kale keeps in the fridge for a long time.

Thank you Gena!

P.S. I let my coworkers try it (none of us are vegan/raw foodists) and the girls love it!

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DeepBlue June 11, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Kale + Sweet Potatoes = Two of my very favorite foods!!!

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Saba September 9, 2010 at 5:44 pm

I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for awhile now. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for a raw hummus recipe with zucchini. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I not only enjoyed this recipe as is for lunch one day, it also inspired my “second lunch” (http://www.lessismorefun.com/second-lunch/) today!

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Monique November 30, 2010 at 9:42 pm

I’ve been loving your blog for several months, but tonight I finally decided to make this massaged kale salad, and I LOVE IT. Seriously, I’m probably going to eat this most days of the week from now on. Thank you so much!! I’m even going to blog about it, it was THAT good. :)

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Angela January 7, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I decided to give your massaged kale a try tonight. I sauteed onions and bell pepper and for the four cups of kale used only 1T evoo and 3T lemon juice with 2T nut. yeast, oh and a little tomato. It was wonderful. Wilting the kale made it easier to eat too. I love it and will do that from now on. Thanks!

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