Category Archives: Nuts

Kale and Lentil Salad

Red Lentils are quick to cook, and very filling. This salad can be served warm as a side dish, or chilled until cool and eaten as a cold salad. You will need:

  • 2 cups red lentils, cooked and drained
  • 1 Tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons good vinegar such as balsamic or sherry
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • wedge of lemon
  • 1/4 cup Dinosaur kale, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • fresh basil, minced or chiffonade
  • 3 Tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts or other nuts like hazelnut
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To prepare the salad have your ingredients ready and warm a skillet or sauté pan gently over medium heat and warm the oil and garlic until it softens, about 3 minutes. Stirring occasionally to ensure no sticking or burning. Add your vinegar and kale and wilt the kale, stirring to coat the greens with the warm garlic dressing. Once wilted remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix this with the basil and nuts and tomatoes while still warm but not hot. Squeeze a little lemon over the salad and toss gently ensuring an even coating. You may serve this chilled or warm as it is and it is a lovely summer dish. This is excellent with a grilled fish as an entrée.   Serves-4

Collard Greens

Collard greens, or Collards, as they’re known in the South, are typically prepared with bacon, or pork belly and braised or boiled for a long time until the texture is reminiscent of buttery Saag (a spinach dish in Indian cuisine cooked in ghee). The Collards you may have grown up on were most likely cooked in this manner, and usually retained a strong pork flavor that you either loved or hated, so you doused them in hot pepper vinegar or hot sauce!

Well Collard greens, and all leafy greens are so incredibly good for us. Yet they can be a little daunting, especially without the bacon to help things along. They have a very earthy, chlorophyll flavor to them with a slight bitterness that can actually be pleasing in the way endive is.

They can be eaten raw or cooked. With such hearty greens like collards some cooking really helps them along. 1 Cup of cooked and drained collards provides 4 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 308% vitamin A, 58% vitamin C, 27% calcium, 12% iron, and they are strongly anti-inflammatory. Good news for those suffering with chronic pain!

To start select your collards at the store or farmer market. The best way to wash them well is in a sink full of water. Swish well and shake loose all the dirt and grime so it falls to the bottom of the sink. Then you will want to either use a paring knife to cut the leaves off of the thick stem, or tear them off. It really doesn’t matter. I prefer to buy my vegetables organic as much as possible due to some of the genetically modified seeds out there.

You can eat collards raw in a salad like my kale salad, and they sure are going to give you a good chewing workout. This could be good for those of you missing your steaks on the diet. It is also very easy to do a quick saute or braise until it melts in your mouth from long, slow cooking. They also work well finely shredded tossed into a cole slaw.

Being that they are rich in iron, they tend to go well with citrus and acidic ingredients like vinegar. Adding citrus to iron rich foods helps in the absorption of the mineral during digestion. Ensuring you get the most out of it, as well as tasting great.

Since Autumn is fast approaching us I think it appropriate to offer you a stuffed squash recipe using Collard greens.

You will need:

  • 2 small Acorn squash
  • 2 cups collard greens, chopped
  • 1\2 cup wild rice
  • 1 1\2 cups water or stock
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh sage, chiffonade or finely minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium celery stalks, minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion, about 1\2 large onion
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 1\4 lemon ( a wedge)
  • 1 teaspoon sea or Kosher salt
  • 3\4 cup Pecan halves
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees faranheit.
  2. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets.
  3. Cut the squash open from the stem to the base, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and lay the squash cut side down on the baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 20 to 30 Minutes, r until easily pierced with a paring knife. Remove from the oven when you can do this, and let the squash cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
  5. In a medium sauce pan cook the wild rice and collards in the water. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmering, stirring occasionally, for about 30-40 minutes. The rice is done when the grain starts to split. If there is extra water leftover drain it out in a strainer.
  6. In a saute pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the celery, onion, lemon thyme and sage until just softened.
  7. Stir in the parsley, black pepper, cayenne, allspice, and salt. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  8. When the squash have cooled enough to handle, use a spoon to carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving a bit behind to keep the skins from tearing.
  9. In a large bowl mash the squash flesh and reserve.
  10. Select about 16 (4 per squash half) perfect pecans for a garnish, then use a food processor to grind the rest of the pecans to a fine texture.
  11. Add the processed pecans, to the reserved, mashed squash flesh, along with the sauted celery and onion mixture, and the wild rice.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice and mix thoroughly.
  12. Stuff the mixture into the pecan shells and garnish with the perfect pecan pieces you removed prior.
  13. Place all in a casserole or baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until the tops feel firm to the touch.

This dish is a little time consuming but the beauty is that you can make it ahead and assemble the components and bake for a quick meal the next day. Or eat it cold!

Try Collards. You might love them. They will do your body and joints a world of good while they fill you up and help reduce your chronic pain.

Making substitute “cheese” from nuts

Giving up cheese is hard if you’re really a cheese lover. Nut cheeses sound strange I will admit, however if you like cheese spreads that you get at the store, then you’ll love “nut cheeses” because they’re spreadable and versatile. Making them is easy and you can mess around with the ingredients and tweak it to your taste. You can schmear it on a bagel, spread it on a pizza, or use it as a dip for veggies.

Nuts offer up protein, calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium and are generally low on the glycemic index and often mildly anti-inflammatory.

You can use:

  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Macadamias
  • A combination of all three

Just be sure you’re using skinless, raw nuts to make your cheese substitute. To begin you just soak the nuts for up to 4 hours to overnight. Then drain then and puree either in a food processor or blender until very smooth and creamy. Then you can add salt and begin tweaking it. To make it more cheesy in flavor you will want to add more “fermented” or “Umami” flavors like: nutritional yeast, or white miso, or Tamari instead of salt. You can make it lemony, peppery, spicy and add pimentos if you’re a pimento cheese spread fan. The nuts are savory and rich and a little sweet, so tweaking the flavor to get to cheesy is pretty easy. Or you can leave it sweet and use it in desserts which would use a soft cheese. Or make a sweeter spread to go with fruit preserves.

Simple Almond Butter and Simple Almond “Milk”

There are a lot of peanut butter substitutes out there and one of my favorite nut butters has to be almond. The health benefits of almonds include  per ounce: 14g of protein, 3 g of fiber, 7% of recommended daily calcium, 6% recommended daily iron, it’s a great source of vitamin E, riboflavin and magnesium which activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate calcium levels, as well as copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body. So you can see why almonds are a welcome addition to a Pain Free Diet.

Making your own nut butters and nut “milks” at home also ensures quality control and that you know exactly what is in the dish. You will need a food processor and a blender respectively for these two recipes.

For the Almond Milk it’s not so much a recipe as it is a ratio:

1 cup Almonds to 4 cups water. Ideally you will want to soak the almonds for up to 8 hours in water.

Blend the almonds and 4 cups of water on high-speed in a blender for about 2 minutes. If you like it chunky you can keep it as is, or buy a “nut-milk-bag”, or strain through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. It won’t strain quickly, so give it some time.

And that’s it. Yes, that is the recipe. If you like to add flavor to your almond milk then add a couple dates and a teaspoon good vanilla extract or use agave sweetener instead of sugar or dates to sweeten. If you have real vanilla beans feel free to use one whole bean. After straining the liquid through the nut-bag, or cheese-cloth or sieve, you will have some pasty remains. Feel free to use this in cookie recipes or breads.

For the Almond Butter:

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • one food processor
  • spatula

Add the almonds and turn it on. This process takes a good 10 minutes, plus or minus one or two. Start out about 2 minutes and stop the processor and scrape down the sides often. Let it go another 2 or 3, and scrape again. The mixture will look lumpy and broken, keep stopping it to scrape down the sides. After about 7-8 minutes the oils in the almonds will begin to release and come together with the solids to create the
“butter”, or paste. Voila!

Serve with cut up fruit or veggies. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator just to be safe for up to a week. If you wanted to make a flavored or sweetened almond butter I recommend using a little agave nectar at the end and maybe a pinch of sweet cinnamon.