All the World is Green: Perfectly healthy, kid-approved recipes

Spring is a very green time, especially in New Orleans. In honor of that, here are my absolute favorite green-hued recipes. These are quick, easy, and healthy for those of us who are great at following instructions, but not so great at devising recipes. Some of them are even kid-approved! 

This Winter Green Smoothie one is recycled from my Post-Mardi Gras Juice-Cleansing post, but it’s way too green to leave out.

greensmoothie

  • Thumbnail-sized piece of ginger
  • 250ml of filtered water or coconut water
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 handful of kale (or try watercress/baby spinach/romaine lettuce)
  • 1 handful of winter fruit such as apple/pear/kiwi/pineapple
  • 1 large sprig of parsley
  • Combos: apple & watercress, pear & baby spinach

okra

Balsamic Vinegar Glazed Okra

I heard this recipe on local radio and am not sure to whom it’s attributed. If you roast the okra until it begins to caramelize, its signature sliminess will cook away. Also, the balsamic vinegar lends a bit of sweetness to a polarizing vegetable – so much so that even my six-year-old adores it.

Ingredients: 

  • Okra (3-4 cups)
  • Balsamic vinegar and olive oil in equal proportion (enough to lightly glaze all of the okra)

Prep: Wash okra and chop into chunks; preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl mix okra, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper. Transfer doused okra into an oven-safe dish. If you’d prefer to dry the okra until it turns into okra chips, place on cookie sheet. Otherwise, any heavy, oven-safe dish is fine.

Place into oven for approximately 25 min. Stir occasionally. Let cool 5 min before serving.

zuchGreen “Pasta”

I was skeptical when a friend first showed me this one, but it’s surprisingly yummy and versatile – a great option for a light side. And my son gets a kick out of the green pasta.

Ingredients:

  • Zucchini
  • whatever you’d normally toss with pasta – olive oil, pesto, marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese, etc.

Prep:

  • Wash zucchini, remove skin but don’t chop.
  • Using cheese grater (the rough side), grate along the side to create strands. You may have to experiment with your grater to make strands, but you’re aiming for thick strings of zucchini.
  • In a pot, bring water to a boil.
  • Throw in “pasta” for 3 min.
  • Rinse with cold water, squeeze out excess water.
  • Toss as preferred and serve (may need a zap in the microwave if topping is cold).

Two Incarnations of Kale

Raw-Kale-Salad-2Kale Salad

Raw kale is bitter and frequently scares people. Blanching the kale eliminates much of the bite and is a great first step for any kale recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of kale (3 cups)
  • Whatever you’d prefer to turn it into a salad. I love balsamic vinegar and sea salt, though it’s too acidic for some. Throw in some sliced apples, cranberries and almonds. Voila!

Prep:

  • Wash kale and chop into 2 in sections (scissors help). Discard the hardest stems.
  • Bring 1/2-1 cup water to a boil in a large pot or pan
  • Add kale and cover
  • Allow it to boil for 3-5 min (depending on desired softness)
  • Rinse in cold water
  • Toss with preferred dressing

Lemon-Garlic Sautéed Kale

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Prep:

  • Blanch kale as in the salad recipe
  • Heat olive oil in a large pan, add garlic, and fry for 3 min.
  • Add lemon juice and 1/2 cup water.
  • Add blanched kale, stir well, and cover.
  • Sauté until desired consistency, normally 10 – 15 min, stirring occasionally.

watercressadvacadoAvocado and Watercress Salad

This salad is my favorite. I could eat bowls and bowls of it. I found it on Epicurious, but it’s originally from Gourmet, May 2008.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 1 tablespoon grated sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (use large holes of a box grater)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated peeled Gala apple (use small holes of box grater)
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cups watercress (thin stems and leaves only; from 1 large bunch)
  • 1 firm-ripe avocado

Prep:

  • Stir together vinegar, onion, apple, soy sauce, and sugar until sugar has dissolved, then stir in oil.
  • Just before serving, toss watercress with enough dressing to coat.
  • Quarter, pit, and peel avocado, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  • Gently toss with watercress.

pesto-chicken-400x400-kalynskitchenBaked Pesto Chicken

This South Beach Diet recipe was given to me by one of my dearest friends years ago, and I still think it’s one of her greatest contributions to my life. Joking – but it really is that good. I’ve yet to meet anyone who dislikes it – definitely kid-approved.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) grated low-fat mozzarella cheese

For pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed into measuring cup)
  • 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Prep:

Pesto:

  • Wash basil leaves
  • Put basil leaves and sliced garlic into food processor and process until basil and garlic is finely chopped, adding oil through the feed tube as you process.
  • Add pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice to the chopped basil mixture and process 1-2 minutes more, until the pesto is mostly pureed and well mixed.
  • Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and pulse a few times more.

Chicken:

  • Preheat oven to 375F. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken pieces, and then cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces.
  • Spray a 9″ x 12″ (or 8.5″ x 12.5″) baking dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish.
  • Lay chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken.
  • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (or use a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid) and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through.
  • When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted.
  • Serve hot.

Bon Appétit!

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