Yesterday, my energy was dragging. The night before, I'd stayed up late-ish for a long-awaited girls' night of drinking red wine and watching The Help, only to be up with the little guy at 1, 2:30 and 4am, and then awake for good with him at 6am (we're thinking two-year-old molars are to blame? Not fun.). Needless to say, the morning found me bleary-eyed, and I overcompensated with a quad latte in a bid to be mentally present for a date we had to spend the morning with friends at Boston's Museum of Science.
The museum date did not disappoint, and a good time was had by all mamas and boys, as we chased our four little dudes past the volcano and into the discovery zone, where they got to check out baby chicks, play with water tables and balance scales, and examine real animal bones. Awesome. However, by the time we got home, I was pretty much cross-eyed with exhaustion. I had an evening yoga date to keep, however, and knew I had to rally. In this situation, it is tempting to lean heavily on caffeine, but that's a quick fix, and always leaves you feeling worse for the wear in the end. So I opted for a power nap, a little cup of green tea, and super-nutritous dinner to pick me up.
You see, I've found that when I'm feeling really wrung out, nothing revives me like some good, old-fashioned hippie food. Kale? Check. Tofu? Yes, please. Sauces made of things like tamari, agave, coconut oil, and miso? Bring it. When I'm bone tired, nothing tends to sound better to me than pizza, but that greasy comforting goodness will only give way to more sloth (which is all well and good if you have another movie night planned, but not so much if you need to rally). If I can pull through and prepare something with all the vitamin and mineral-enriched loveliness of some hippie food, I always feel worlds with my body well-nourished.
Last night, I chose two recipes that I've been wanting to try for awhile as a light, pre-yoga dinner: Sprouted Kitchen's Wild Rice Salad with Miso Dressing and the Kale Salad from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day. The wild rice salad looked just gorgeous on Sprouted Kitchen, and I've never tried anything from Heidi that hasn't come out amazing, plus my sister and her husband have been making this salad twice a week and loving it, so I had to give it a try myself. One side benefit of this menu plan? It allowed me to take in and appreciate what a glorious natural foods pantry we've stocked over time...
This dinner was so delicious, and completely reviving. I felt ready for my little yoga night, and had a great practice. I feel one thousand times better today. The husband also really enjoyed this flavorful feast. The light, Asian flavors in the rice salad make the wild rice, edamame, carrots and tofu shine. I love having miso in the fridge, as it makes meals like this one taste restaurant-ready. And the kale salad was everything my sister said it would be: salty, savory, sweet, crunchy, chewy, toothsome, and completely unlike any kale preparation I've made before. Also, it was incredibly quick and easy to prepare, so you can bet it is getting a spot on the regular menu rotation.
Since this rice salad is pretty much my dream lunch, I actually tripled the recipe, and we now have fabulous lunches awaiting us for the rest of the week. It's worth noting that a single batch probably wouldn't make enough for leftovers at all, so consider multiplying the recipe... it keeps beautifully, and would be the perfect thing to make on a Sunday night and scoop over greens for lunches all week long. For the record, I used two blocks of tofu in my triple batch, but only one shallot per the original recipe, to avoid onion-y overload. We loved the combination of the two salads together.
For extra points, play some bootlegged Grateful Dead while you cook.
Wild Rice Salad with White Miso Dressing
Serves 2 as an entree, 4 as a side
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
For the Salad:
1/2 cup wild rice (I had a coupon for Whole Foods brand Red Rice, so I used that, but black forbidden rice or any other blend would work as well)
1 block extra firm tofu
2 tsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
fresh ground pepper
1 heaping cup shredded carrots (from 1 large or two medium carrots)
3/4 cup cooked, shelled, organic edamame
3 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
Handful of Chopped Cilantro
For the dressing:
2 Tbsp. white miso
2 Tbsp. agave nectar or brown rice syrup
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 shallot, minced
Juice of half an Orange
1) Cook the rice according to package instructions. While the rice cooks, prep the rest of the salad:
2) Wrap the tofu between a few layers of paper towel and set it aside to drain for 10-15 minutes. Cut it into a 1/2” dice.
3) Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the tofu and sauté for about five minutes. Sprinkle the soy sauce and a few grinds of fresh ground pepper over the top and sauté another few minutes until the edges are browned. Turn off heat and set aside.
4) Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together.
5) In a large bowl, combine the rice, tofu, sliced carrots, edamame. Toss everything with the dressing. Add the sesame seeds and cilantro and give it another toss. Serve room temperature or chilled.
from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
3 1/2 lightly packed cups chopped kale, stems trimmed, large ribs removed
1 1/2 cups unsweetened large-flake coconut (if you can only find finely shredded coconut flakes, which are much more common in stores, reduce the amount to 1/2 cup)
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with two racks in the top third of the oven.
2) In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the olive oil, sesame oil, and shoyu or soy sauce. Put the kale and coconut in a large bowl and toss well with about two-thirds of the olive oil mixture.
3) Spread the kale evenly across two baking sheets. Bake for 12-18 minutes, until the coconut is deeply golden brown, tossing once or twice along the way. If the kale mixture on the top baking sheet begins to get too browned, move it to a lower rack.
4) Remove from the oven and transfer the kale mixture to a medium bowl. Taste. If you feel it needs a bit more dressing, add some and toss. Serve warm.