Recipe: Fall Harvest Salad

Every November my child’s school has a Thanksgiving feast and I always make a giant kale-based (I don’t like lettuce…too wilty) salad. The first picture shows the salad before I dressed it, the second image is a few ours later after I tossed it. Note that the chunks of Granny Smith Apple are still nice and white. When apples become brown it’s because they’ve begun to oxidize, but you can avoid this simply by tossing them with a little lemon juice. And if you’ve never had kabocha squash, check out last year’s post where I talk a little more about it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to add the dressing no more than 20-minutes before you will serve the salad or the kale gets too wilty (for my taste at least!!!) Enjoy and be a spark in the world.

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Fall Harvest Salad
3-Bunches of Lacinato Kale
4-small Granny Smith apples (or 2 large)
3-cups of cooked and refrigerated Kabocha squash cubed
1-1/2 cups of walnut pieces
1-cup of dried goji berries
2-large avocadoes
3-large lemons
olive oil and sea salt (I always dress with an olive oil that has a buttery taste, many olive oils have a peppery finish that I don’t care for so I avoid those)

Cut a Kobocha squash, remove its seeds and cook at 300-degrees for one-hour or until soft when poked with a fork. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until you are going to make the salad. This can be done up to 2-days before.

Remove the kale leaves from their center stalk and chop or rip. Cube Granny Smith apples and squeeze half a lemon over them and toss until fully coated. Cut the Kabocha squash from its skin and cube it. Cube avocado. Toss the rest of the ingredients in with the kale. Squeeze the rest of the lemons and then add olive oil and salt to taste.  Enjoy!

If you like this recipe check out last year’s salad too.

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Recipe: Curried Chicken Salad

Trader Joe’s has an amazing ready-made curried chicken salad in their refrigerated section, and I liked it so much I decided to try and replicate it. It’s easy to make ahead and have sitting in the fridge for a quick snack, lunch or dinner; and it has a really nice diversity of flavors and textures which is something I’m a big fan of.

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Curried Chicken Salad a la Ember Living via Trader Joe’s
2 chicken breasts
1 large carrot
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup thompson raisins or golden raisins
1-1/2 tbl mayonnaise
1-tsp curry powder (I like the organic mix from Whole Foods)
1-1/2 tbl honey (I like raw avocado honey)

Poach the 2 chicken breasts (add to boiling water for 3-minutes then turn it off and let sit for 10-minutes. Check for doneness.) Cube them and then put them aside to cool.

In a medium bowl mix the mayonnaise, curry powder and honey together. You may want more or less curry powder, I had to estimate on the quantity because I used the shaker. Add the cool chicken to this and blend well until everything is evenly coated. Grate or peel the carrots and then add the raisins and cashews and mix evenly. Serve over a bed of greens (I like kale). Serves 4.
Enjoy and be a spark in the world!

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Health and Happiness 2014: Wonderful Autumnal Salad and Book Recommendation

Every year I wish my friends and family Health and Happiness for the year ahead because if you have those two items well in hand, the rest of life is much easier and more enjoyable!  So here are two items to help contribute to your health and happiness.  An autumnal salad full of antioxidants and other phytonutrients, and the latest book we’ve been reading that is absolutely rocking our worlds!  Enjoy and be a spark in the world!

Happiness: 15 Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell

This book is absolutely awesome. Maxwell’s supposition that you don’t get better just because you get older hit me like a thunderbolt of “duh!”  It makes perfect sense once you think about it, but many of us take for granted that we will naturally become better at everything we do just because we have more experience.  He makes a strong case for why this is not true and lays out a plan that is guaranteed to ensure that you don’t just age, but that you progress as well. I can’t wait to finish it AND put his suggestions into practice.  Right now this book keeps bouncing back and forth between our nightstands as we each read a chapter and then discuss it together. You can buy the book here.

Health: Autumn Jewels Antioxidant Salad

I made this salad for a Thanksgiving feast at my daughter’s pre-school and it was a hit.  Witness the “after” photo.  I love the rich jewel colors that the pomegranate seeds, avocado and kabocha squash lend.  Make sure the squash is cool to cold or it will wilt the salad. My recipe will serve 6-12 depending on if it’s an entree or an appetizer.


1-large bunch of red kale washed, despined and shredded
1-large pomegranate (just the seeds of course)
4-ounces of pecans
1-large avocado
1/4-medium sized kabocha squash baked at 300-degrees until soft, do this the night before so that it has time to cool fully
olive oil and sea salt to taste

Chop up pecans, avocado and squash to desired sizes (I like marble size chunks) and toss with pomegranate seeds and kale.  Sprinkle with about a teaspoon of sea salt (I like Alaea salt which you can find here), drizzle with olive oil and squeeze the juice of about half a lemon.  Toss and allow to sit for no more than 20-minutes before serving (the lemon juice will wilt the kale and 20-minutes is just enough, any longer and it becomes limp…YUCK!)

I always try to buy organic ingredients.  This is especially important when you are eating a fruit or vegetable without a rind to peel which helps to protect the plant from the chemicals it may have been grown with.  This salad is super good for you.  To learn some of the health benefits I’ve included additional links below.

Kale: Besides having a wonderful crunch (I hate limp food!), kale is also high in protein, Omega-3 and Omega-6 when compared to traditional lettuce.  Kale is also high in folic acid and calcium, and let’s just be frank…eating it is like giving the inside of your body the loofah scrubbing it deserves!!!  If you eat kale regularly you will be regular too ;^)  My entire family eats raw kale twice a day (morning smoothie and afternoon salad) and I feel like it is a major component in our good health.

Pomegranate: super high in Vitamin C and potassium

Pecans: lots of Vitamin E and good for your cholesterol, pecans add some protein to this salad as well as give you some satisfying fat.  Fat is a vitally important building block for the body and helps you feel satisfied when you eat. Also, many nutrients require fat for maximum absorption, so for all these reasons it’s good to have some healthy fats in your salad.

Avocado: Personally I just LOVE LOVE LOVE avocado.  I met someone who was allergic and I felt so incredible sorry for her because avocado is one of my favorite foods.  It also provides lots of healthy fat and helps increase the absorption of carotenoids.  But one of the best health benefits is the high-presence of polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols which is mostly present in ocean vegetables (rare in terrestrial) and helps greatly with anti-inflammation related to arthritis.

Kabocha squash: This squash has a wonderfully starchy and sweet quality.  Almost more like a sweet potato (especially similar to purple Okinawan sweet potato if you’ve ever had any of that deliciousness!!!) Super high in Vitamin A. In my opinion its taste and mouth-feel is HIGHLY superior to butternut squash and it has fewer calories and starches than butternut (win-win-win!)

Olive Oil: Great for the cardiovascular system and again, a super good fat for you (like pecans and avocados.) Be sure to buy extra virgin first cold-pressed.  Heat will always compromise the nutritional benefits of produce, so you want things to be as close to raw as possible and the cold-press designation helps assure that.  BTW, I only “dress” my foods with olive oils, I never cook with olive oil because it starts to break down at relatively low temperatures. I cook with ghee. This is the brand of olive oil I use in my kitchen.

Disclaimer: please use common sense as my blog represents my opinion only.  I am not a medical-professional so take a big tablespoon of Alaea salt with what I say and please do your own research too!  Mahalo and Happy Holidays.