Category Archives: Kale

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions



Hello! It’s been a long time since my last post. I have been very busy with garden things and kid & school things. I have been tweeting a bit, in case you want to follow me there just look for thisspicylife… I usually re-tweet interesting nutrition articles, garden info and other inspiring stuff.

Yesterday I hosted a huge garden work day at our school garden as part of an Eagle Scout Project. We worked pretty much all day rebuilding raised beds and moving soil into the new beds. We had a lot of help from a local Boy Scout Troop #127 and our school parents and community volunteers. It was such a great day with beautiful weather and nice people. See the end of this post for some pics of our garden remodel.

I really worked up an appetite because today I was ready for a rather substantial (for me) breakfast. It turned into brunch by the time I got it made and ready to eat, though this is a pretty quick dish to make. We had some leftover pickled onions from the weekend, so added these to the plate along with some yummy grits seasoned with nutritional yeast. The leftovers will be made into burritos. It was the perfect addition to this non-spicy curry. If you want the onions, you should plan ahead. Or just make a batch and find ways to use them! They are a pretty pink color and delicious (if you like onions). Here is the tempeh recipe:

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions (Serves 4)

1/2 package of tempeh, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 large baking potato, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 orange bell pepper (or other color), cut in bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped kale
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
pinch of garam masala (optional)
salt to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and allow to heat a bit before adding the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to toast, add the potato pieces and a bit of salt, stirring the potatoes to coat with the oil. Cover with a lid and allow the potatoes to cook, stirring occasionally. When the potatoes are almost cooked through, sprinkle with the turmeric, coriander powder and cayenne pepper and stir well. Add the tempeh, pepper, kale and garlic. Continue cooking and stir frequently until the tempeh is heated and the pepper is cooked to your liking. This should take just 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the pinch of garam masala and additional salt to taste. Serve with pickled onions over grits, rice or with bread of your choice.

Pickled Onions

1 red onion
1/2 cup of vinegar (any kind you like)
1/2 cup of water
pinch of salt

Peel the onion and cut in rings. Loosen the rings and place the rings in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the onion and add the vinegar (we used white vinegar) and water. Allow to sit for an hour or up to two days before using. These can be used in sandwiches, as part of an appetizer tray with other veggies, on pizza, or just on the side of any spicy curry. The longer they pickle, the better they taste. Just keep ’em in the fridge.

Here are some pics of our garden remodel:

Rebuilding the raised beds with cinder blocks…Boy Scouts in yellow shirts. The blocks will get painted later by the students.



Some artichokes growing in the garden… can’t wait to harvest!



One of our hard-working volunteers!





Mouth-watering Mushroom, Kale & Tofu Scramble & Grits



Hello! I’m back to the Indian-inspired cooking for a bit. It’s “cold” here in S. Cali this week requiring some spicy comfort food. Yes, it’s in the high 50’s to low 60’s, but what can I say? This morning I threw together a quick tofu scramble while the grits were gurgling on the stove. I love mushrooms and when I’m feeling a bit under the weather they always seem to bring me back around. For some extra nutrients, I threw in kale and tomatoes. The tomatoes were just cooked enough to be soft but still pop a little in your mouth. Hence, the “mouth-watering” description. I ate these served over yellow corn grits with a few dashes of super-spicy Marie Sharp’s Belizean Heat. I think grits have to be eaten with a bit of hot sauce. Just goes hand-in-hand.

This is an easier recipe than my scrambled tofu with spinach since I don’t use onion and garlic. It also takes less time since you don’t have to wait on the onion to cook. The only thing you have to mess with is chopping the mushrooms (and kale if using fresh). I have a bag of organic kale in the freezer. It’s handy for quick meals where I really need some greens. The kale cooks faster than fresh since the ice crystals have broken it down a bit.

If you don’t have all of the spices, run out to the store and get them! What are you waiting for? Just kidding… you can add whatever you like – just don’t use too much of any one thing so you keep a balanced flavor. Of course, you could go the Mexican or Italian route with the spices too. Tomorrow I will use the leftovers to make tacos with corn tortillas. Just throw on some spicy salsa, fresh shredded cabbage and another nice, healthy meal is ready! Here is today’s version of the tofu scramble…

Mouth-watering Mushroom, Kale & Tofu Scramble & Grits (serves 2 – 4)

1 pkg. firm tofu (press out the water for 10 – 15 minutes)
1 lb. of portabella or other mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 cup of kale, frozen or washed and chopped
2+ tbsp oil
2 tsp of black salt (or to taste)
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp garam masala (optional)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
hot sauce to taste
3 cups cooked grits

Heat up your trusty cast-iron skillet (or other large skillet) to medium. When it’s really hot, add your mushrooms and let them cook for a minute or two. Stir and add a pinch of salt over them. As they start cooking down and releasing their water, you can add the oil and kale. After about two minutes, crumble the tofu with your hands into the skillet. There should be bite-sized pieces and some smaller pieces. Add a bit more oil if necessary to keep it from sticking. Stir and then add all of the spices and stir again to get the spices incorporated. Reduce the heat to low. Allow to cook, stirring only once in while so that the tofu starts to get slightly brown and crispy in spots. After approximately 5 – 8 minutes, make a little space in the middle of the pan by moving everything else to the sides. Toss the tomatoes in the center and let everything cook for about 3 minutes. Stir and turn off the heat. Keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on the type of tofu you are using, how much water is in it, if you are using cast-iron or not… Spoon over hot grits. Serve with fresh cilantro and hot sauce.


Delicata Squash, Quinoa and Kale Salad



Hello! Welcome to my first salad post of hopefully a year-long project. I shall do my best to complete this task successfully!

I had a sweet little Delicata Squash in the refrigerator that I’ve been waiting to showcase. They are a beautiful variety of winter squash, but any winter squash will work in this recipe. The chunks of roasted squash are tossed on top of the salad so they have distinct texture and flavor. The Orange Maple Dressing is kicked up a bit with the addition of cayenne pepper. The combination is wonderful for a winter meal.

As with any salad, you can add to it as you wish. My recipe lists what I actually used, but I always encourage you to add or take away as you like. No use suffering through eating pears if you really don’t like them. If you don’t have kale on hand, then sub in some bok choy or spinach. These recipes are just a stepping off point so mix it up as you please!

Delicata Squash, Quinoa and Kale Salad with Orange Maple Dressing

Makes 2 Entrée Servings or 4 Sides

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups hot water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup kale, washed and shredded
1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa (wet) and allow to toast for about 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Once the water evaporates and the quinoa starts to toast, add the water and the salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the grains are plump and soft (but not mushy). Add more water if necessary – you can drain off any leftover water. When it is fully cooked, drain off any excess water. Stir in the kale, vinegar and oil and set aside to cool. (Yes, the kale should wilt a bit in the heat of the quinoa but not be totally cooked.) Now it’s time to prepare the squash:


1 Delicata Squash, Acorn Squash or other Winter Squash
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Preheat your oven to 450F . Wash the squash under running water, remove any stickers and cut into bite-sized pieces. The skin can be eaten, but if you don’t like this, you may peel it before cutting. But why make extra work? Place the squash pieces on a lightly oiled baking sheet, then sprinkle with the olive oil and salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, turning the pieces over after 7 minutes. Just keep an eye on it since all ovens bake differently (really!). You want a nice browning on the edges but not burning and the squash should be just cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. While this is baking, start cutting up the rest of the veggies:

1 pear, washed and cored
1 cucumber, washed and seeded
1 carrot, washed
Pumpkin seeds or other seeds

Cut up the pear, cucumber and carrot into bite sized pieces. Set aside. Now make the dressing:

2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
2 tsp. minced parsley
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or shake in a capped bottle. It won’t emulsify, so just stir or shake before using.

To compose the salad:

The quinoa and squash should be at room temp. Divide the quinoa amongst your plates, making a mound. Then flatten the mound down a bit. Top off with the squash pieces, the cut up veggies and seeds. I don’t stir everything together in one bowl because the squash will probably turn to mush. Plus, it looks nicer! Stir or shake your dressing and pour over the salad to taste. Enjoy!

Summer Salads: Sprouts & Kickin’ Kale


Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life…

The holiday weekend is upon us. I hope you have a great weekend planned! I’m including two recipes for the (free) price of one today, in honor of the tradition of eating lots of salads and sides with the Independence Day feast. Well, most people do… some people only go for the barbecue!

The first salad is a cold salad made from mung bean sprouts (Indian-style, short sprouts). You will need to plan ahead a bit so that you have your sprouts ready to go when you want to serve this salad. It can take anywhere from 2 to 4 days to sprout the beans. If you are unfamiliar with sprouting, please see the Sproutpeople website. Just use a bowl if you don’t have a sprouter and use the instructions for the 1/4 – 1/2″ long sprouts.

The second salad is a creamy, spicy kale salad and can be eaten room-temp or slightly chilled. It isn’t really an Indian salad, but could still be served alongside an Indian meal.  Kale is one of my favorite veggies but I get bored with the usual preparations. For this recipe, I used Trader Joe’s Tahini Sauce for the tahini, but any plain tahini will work too. The TJ’s sauce has added lemon juice, garlic and salt. Any type of kale will do, but in this recipe I used the dinosaur kale (dark green with flat leaves).

On with the recipes…

Mung Bean Sprout Salad

Serves 2 – 4

  • 3 cups mung bean sprouts, 1/4 – 1/2″ long
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp green chili, finely chopped (optional or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6 curry leaves (optional)
  1. Pick through the sprouts to remove any that didn’t hatch. These will be extremely tough and could break a tooth if you bite down unexpectedly! It will take a few minutes, but is worth the little bit of work. Any easy way to do it is fill your bowl of sprouts with water and skim off the top layers with your hand. Examine each handful as you place it in your colander, picking out any that aren’t sprouted. Keep doing this until you get to the bottom of the bowl. Then you can just pick out the remaining sprouts and toss the unsprouted beans (or keep them and cook them in some other recipe).
  2. Rinse the sprouts in cool water and drain in a colander or a salad spinner. Try to get off as much water as possible without disturbing the sprouts too much. 
  3. Place the sprouts in a large bowl and add the onion, cilantro, chili, salt and lemon juice. Mix gently.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, remove from heat and set aside until it cools.
  5. Add the mustard seed/curry leaf mixture to the salad and mix gently. Adjust the lemon juice and salt to your taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Creamy Kale Salad with Spicy Sesame Sauce
Serves 2 – 4
  • 6 cups of kale, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp dried red chili flakes (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 6 tbsp tahini (or tahini sauce, see note above)
  • 2 tsp tamari or other soy sauce
  • lemon juice to taste
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped garlic and chili flakes and turn the heat to medium-low (so the garlic doesn’t burn).
  3. When the garlic starts to change color, add the kale and about a half tsp of salt.
  4. Stir and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for a few minutes, checking on the kale and stirring every few minutes. Add a few tbsps of water to keep the kale from burning if it seems to be getting dry.
  5. When the kale is nice and wilted and tender, remove from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. (The cooking time can be influenced by the freshness of the kale and how much water was added during cooking, among other factors.)
  6. Remove the kale and any garlic bits to a bowl. Try not to pour too much water into the bowl if there is any left in the pan.
  7. Add the tahini and tamari/soy sauce to the kale mixture and stir. The mixture should have a creamy, smooth consistency. If it’s too thick, then add a bit of water to thin it out. If it’s too thin, add a bit more tahini.
  8. Now squeeze about 1/4 of a lemon over the kale and stir. Taste and add more if you like…
  9. Eat.

Say Yes!… to Kale Mojito Cocktails with Agave

Say Yes!… to Kale Mojito Cocktails with Agave

Hello! Yes, you read right…Kale Mojitos! Only here will you find such a strange but wonderful combination – the nutritious goodness of kale meets the badness of white rum! Believe me, you will never taste the kale (not that I don’t love the taste of kale)!

Last week my girls and I created this wonderful, refreshing cocktail that is very tasty and easy on the conscience. But don’t be fooled. It is a real cocktail and hits the spot.

Kale Mojitos with Agave

Makes 4 drinks

  • 4 leaves of kale, washed (we used dinosaur kale)
  • 1/2 cup of agave syrup (or to taste, or use simple syrup)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of cold water
  • 1 cup of fresh mint, washed
  • 3 limes
  • 4 shots of white rum (6 oz or to taste)
  • 1 bottle of club soda or sparkling water
  • 4 cups of ice cubes

To prepare the kale juice:

  1. Tear the kale into pieces, removing the stem, and put it in the blender.
  2. Add the agave (or simple syrup). Start to blend, adding cold water as needed to make a thick syrupy juice. Blend until it is as smooth as possible. It’s okay if there are small chunks of kale since the mint will have chunks anyway.
  3. Set aside.

To prepare the mint and garnish:

  1. Place 10 leaves of mint in a mortar (or bowl).
  2. Pour the juice of two of the limes over and muddle with the pestle (or use a fork). Set aside.
  3. Pick out 4 nice sprigs of mint and set aside.
  4. Cut the remaining lime into wedges and set aside.

To prepare the Mojitos:

  1. Pour 1 shot (1.5 oz) rum into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice to fill 1/2 to the top.
  3. Add 1/4 of the mint-lime juice mixture.
  4. Add 4 tbsp of the kale juice (or less if the shaker is too full with that amount).
  5. Shake vigorously for 1 minute.
  6. Strain into a tall ice-filled glass.
  7. Add club soda or sparkling water to fill to the top.
  8. Swish around a bit to mix it.
  9. Garnish with mint sprig and lime.
  10. Enjoy your refreshing drink!