kale salad

lunchbox life: kale confetti salad

image1(21)School’s back in session, and so am I!

Welcome back to lunchbox life, my series of meal planning as a high school teacher. If you’re just joining us, I create five refrigerated meals for my school lunches each week. Sometimes I use a microwave to reheat the meal, sometimes I don’t; it depends on what I’ve prepared. My goal is to create a healthy, substantive lunch to help me power through teaching and the rest of my day, all while being mindful of using local produce when possible, focusing on protein and fiber, and fueling up for exercise.

I’m really excited about this school year. It’s year five for me, and while I know I have so much left to learn, I actually feel like I might know what I’m doing (shhh…at least I think I do). If you know any first year teachers, please be nice to them–their worlds are about to be rocked. Alex and I were engaged most of my first year of teaching (we married in late March), and he is a saint for listening to all of my tear-filled moments of agony and defeat. This year, I’ll be teaching US History (an old stand by that I love) and a new prep for me: Humanities. I moved classrooms, too, and now I’m across the hall from one of my work besties, Rachel, so I’m happy to have quips and convos during class changes with one of my favorites.

This week, I’m going to a couple of my go-to ingredients: kale and brussels sprouts. I wanted to avoid the microwave this week since the first week of school can get super busy, plus the oppressive heat has me craving cool salads in the middle of the day. The key to a kale salad is the quick massage with olive oil and salt: thirty seconds, tops. This allows the kale to slightly break down and become more palatable as a salad green. By now, I know how worn out I get during the first week of school, so I wanted to fuel up on my greens, folic acid, fiber, and Vitamins A and K. The combination of kale and shredded brussels sprouts is a great base for a hearty salad, and you can add whatever you like. I love adding raw sugar snap peas to salads for crunch and a natural sweetness. I’ve also added garlic stuffed green olives for a briny touch and organic sliced roast beef for protein (no added gross stuff–read your labels!). I’ll be topping my salad with Lemon Garlic dressing by Tessamae’s. I usually make my own salad dressing, but I started using this brand when I did Whole30 this summer at GHP where kitchen access was scarce. This family company focuses on all natural ingredients, and their salad dressings and sauces are pretty great. I spotted a few of the salad dressings in the produce section of Kroger in my neighborhood, but you can also order from the website.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Monday. For some of us, it’s the start of a brand new year–good luck!

Kale Confetti Salad

1 bunch kale (I used dino kale from my CSA box)

1 Tbsp. olive oil + pinch of kosher salt

1 lb. raw brussels sprouts

8 oz. raw sugar snap peas

1 jar green olives (I used garlic stuffed)

12 oz. all natural, deli sliced roast beef (I used Simple Truth from Kroger–no sugar or carageenan added)

Salad dressing of choice

Slice the kale into thin ribbons (about 1/2 inch in width) and remove the woodsy stems. Place all kale ribbons in a mixing bowl and pour in the olive oil and salt. Using your hands, gently massage the kale for about 30 seconds to break down some of the strong fibers of the greens. Keep on the counter. Next, slice the tough stems off of the brussels sprouts and either slice them thinly or use the slicer function on your food processor. When complete, add the shreds of brussels sprouts to the kale and thoroughly combine. Divide the greens mixture between five bowls. Slice all of the sugar snap peas in half and distribute equally between bowls. Slice all of the green olives in half and distribute equally between bowls. Slice all of the roast beef into 1/4 inch ribbons and distribute equally between bowls. Pack your salad each day with the salad dressing separate and add just before eating.

lunchbox life: turkey and brie tortillas with kale and carrot salad

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Whew! I am totally worn out. After four days and four nights in Athens, I have attended a conference, run a half marathon, and eaten lots of delicious food, and while I’m not quite ready to forge ahead toward a five-day work week, it’s nice to be home. Tonight’s lunch prep is simple and features some of my favorite, tried and true ingredients. Pay special attention to the high fiber, low carb tortillas I’ve featured in this recipe as well as in previous entries. They’re a great way to mix up a sandwich, wrap, or Mexican dish because they’re full of fiber and very low in calories. I know that I just featured kale last week, but I couldn’t help but buy a bag of shredded kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts at Trader Joe’s this afternoon on our way out of Athens. What a great idea! I also bought a bag of multicolored carrots, so I thinly sliced a few of them and threw them into the kale melange for color and crunch.

Turkey and Brie Tortillas

10 5-inch high fiber, low carb tortillas

7 oz. brie, cut into slices

8-10 thin slices of deli turkey

Heat a grill pan or large skillet to medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. While pan is heating, assemble five of the tortillas with an even distribution of the turkey and brie and top each one with another tortilla. In batches, grill the tortillas for about 2 minutes on each side. Let cool, then slice in half.

Kale and Carrot Salad

about 5 cups of shredded kale, brussels sprouts, and/or broccoli (I used the Trader Joe’s cruciferous collection)

3 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly on the diagonal (I used one purple, one yellow, and one white)

1/4 cup olive oil

4 Tbsp. dijon mustard

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. salt

Toss the kale mixture with the carrots. In a jar, shake the remaining ingredients together, pour over salad, and toss to combine. This salad can be dressed and refrigerated for a few days.

meatless monday and lunchbox life duo: kale salad with roasted butternut squash, blue cheese, pomegranate, and pecans

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…and quinoa, and citrus vinaigrette. For both Meatless Monday and Lunchbox Life this week, the plan is to detox! Alex and I had an awesome time visiting New England this past weekend for my cousin’s wedding. We flew to Boston and drove to Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Thursday, explored coastal Maine on Friday, walked around the city of Boston on Saturday morning, and celebrated cousins Jessy and Doug on Saturday evening. We had a wonderful time, but after lobster rolls, clam chowder, airport snacks, and more locally brewed beer than I care to count, I’m feeling the overindulgence. What do I always crave after a vacation full of rich food? Broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and other members of the cruciferous family.

Since today was a professional development day and I’ll be in Athens for a conference on Thursday and Friday, I just needed two school lunches this week, so I decided to make a double batch of this kale salad. There are many variations of kale salad, but this version is perfect for fall (despite the warmer-than-I’d-like temperatures this week). The kale is the base, the butternut squash is a great meat replacement because of its heartiness, the pomegranate seeds provide sweetness and a pop, the pecans provide the crunch, the quinoa is there for the whole grains and fiber, and the blue cheese is there for saltiness, tartness, and creamy texture. This is really a non-recipe since you can add or subtract anything you like, but I am proud of this combination and think that it really works!

Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, Pomegranate, and Pecans

2 bunches of kale, torn into bite-size pieces

2 Tbsp. olive oil, separated

1 butternut squash, seeds and skin removed, small dice

1 cup dry quinoa, prepared as directed (should yield 2 cups cooked quinoa)

2 navel oranges, zest and juice separated

1 pomegranate, seeds removed

4 oz. blue cheese

1 cup roasted pecans

for the dressing:

use the juice from the navel oranges

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Toss the butternut squash diced pieces with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 F for about 20 minutes. While the squash is cooking, massage the kale pieces with the other Tbsp. of olive oil and the orange zest. Add the quinoa, pomegranate seeds, pecans, blue cheese, and roasted butternut squash to the massaged kale and toss to combine. Whisk together the dressing ingredients, pour over the salad, and toss to combine.

Note: You can eat this salad right away and store it (already dressed) for lunch the next day. Kale is hearty enough of a green to not wilt under the weight of the dressing, so save this step the next day and enjoy your already dressed salad!