What are you grateful for? Thanksgiving is just days away, and many of us will be pondering this question. I know that I have many things to be grateful for, including my family, my health, and my access and ability to prepare nutritious and delicious food.
I am also grateful to have a job which allows me to combine my passion for food and cooking with my training in medicine. Aside from the monthly classes I teach at the Thrive Kitchen at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, I also have occasional opportunities to share my ideas in other locations in the Kaiser Permanente integrated network, including most recently in Portland, Oregon.
Northwest Permanente’s Rockwood location just completed its first year of joining a four-year old “Veggie Rx” program called CSA Partnership for Health, which provides patients with a discounted CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription combined with nutrition and cooking education onsite. This is a very direct and tangible form of food as medicine. I felt very fortunate to have been invited to do a few cooking demonstrations at the final CSA pickup date, where I made some seasonal recipes using local produce. I also had a chance to meet the farmer who supplied the produce that week, Emily of Portland’s Full Cellar Farm.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to engage with the CSA Partnership for Health program’s participants, who were extremely enthusiastic. It was the first time I did a cooking demo with live interpretation (in Spanish). Some things need no translation, however, like how to massage kale:
One of the recipes I demonstrated was this massaged kale salad. Yes, even on Thanksgiving, I serve my family and friends kale salad. This is a vibrant and robust taste of fall, full of hearty, seasonal root vegetables, a hint of maple syrup, and the crunch of pumpkin seeds. You’ll “Eat the Rainbow” when you eat this salad, which is hearty enough to make a meal for your vegetarian guests, served with a side of quinoa or farro.
Thanksgiving Kale Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables
1 bunch green curly kale, center rib removed
1 1/2 pound assorted root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, delicata squash, and parsnips (approx 1 delicata, 1 parsnip, 2 small sweet potatoes)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
1/4 cup pepitas, ideally freshly toasted
1 T maple syrup
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
- Heat oven to 400 F. Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. Peel root vegetables, as desired (no need for the delicata), and then cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. Toss with olive oil and salt in a bowl, then transfer in a single layer with some space between the vegetables on the baking sheets. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes, flipping over 1/2 way between. When vegetables are light brown around the edges and you’re able to them pierce with a fork, remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Thinly slice or tear kale into bite-sized pieces and place in salad bowl. Massage kale with your hands for about a minute, until it has softened and appears glossy and darker green.
- Prepare the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisking, or by pouring into a jar, tightly closing the lid, and shaking until combined. Pour dressing onto prepared kale and toss to cover.
- Toast pepitas by placing in a single layer in a small dry frying pan (without oil) and heating over low-medium heat, shaking often, until pepitas puff up a bit and change from green to tan in color. This will take 30 to 60 seconds. Allow to cool .
- When vegetables have cooled, arrange them atop the kale salad. Scatter pumpkin seeds, pomegranate arils and red onion.
137 cal, 16 g carbs, 6g fat, 4g protein,38 mg sodium, 4 g sugar
This week, I had another opportunity to be grateful. After the Camp Fire, the tragic wildfire that destroyed the town of Paradise, California, I was able to help out with a charitable organization I greatly admire, Chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen. I spent a day volunteering to help this organization prepare meals for first responders and fire victims at their temporary relief center in Chico, about three hours from San Francisco. The air quality was hazardous, but the mainly volunteer crew was cheerful, organized and hard-working. I quickly got used to cooking in a N95 mask, although I did try twice to taste the marinade I was preparing through my mask!
Because not everyone has the opportunity to volunteer, I have also organized a fundraiser for World Central Kitchen on Facebook. If you are able, please consider a donation in any amount- even $1- to help provide hot, chef-prepared meals to people affected by natural disasters. Thank you!
I wish you and your loved ones a safe, peaceful, healthy and delicious Thanksgiving. Keep in touch on my Facebook page, The Doctor’s Spicebox, and consider taking a Thrive Kitchen class if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area.
To your health!