Kale salad with lentils

I’m on a kale kick again after reading a new playful new cookbook, Fifty Shades of Kale.

Inspired, I wanted something massaged for softness with a sweet and spicy flavor. This recipe uses a spicy aioli combined with another superfood, sweet potato, for a touch of sweetness.

Before we get cooking, I like a bit of background. Today I thought I’d share exactly why kale is good for us. It’s a superfood, packed with a rich array of nutrients including:

  • Fiber which is filling, good for the gut and helps stabilize blood sugar.
  • A decent amount of protein (2.2 grams) to keep you going.
  • Vitamin K, A, C and Manganese which is good for bone health, anemia and nutrition absorption. 
  • A good source of omega 3 fatty acids that protect against disease for vegans.

Note: if you are on anti-blood clotting medication, please check with your pharmacist or doctor about eating kale.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of curly kale, organic if you can
  • 2 TBS spicy habanero aioli OR substitute 2 TBS mayonnaise and 1 tsp habenero hot sauce
  • 1 medium size sweet potato, baked
  • Optional: Moroccan lentils, cooked.

Directions:

1. Remove all of the stalks by pulling the leaves off the center stalk. Pull or chop the kale into small bits.

2. Add 2 TBS aioli or the substitution.

Kale salad with mayo spoon

3. As mentioned before, the trick to a raw kale salad is to massage the kale with a fat like mayonnaise or yogurt which breaks down the fibers into a richer, more flavorful dish. Massage the aioli into the kale with your hands. Really get in there until each leaf is coated and softened. You can see the difference in the image above and below.

massaging kale

4. Cut the sweet potato into half inch squares and toss into the salad.Optional: add 1 cup of cooked Moroccan Lentils. Recipe to come soon!

sweet potato sliced

5. Voila! Enjoy.

Kale salad with lentils

CSA Variety

8 Reasons to Join a CSA today!

Spring is finally in the air and I for one am excited for the warmer weather and freshness ahead! I’m preparing our home with fresh flowers, changing to lighter linens, closets and of course seasonal foods.

One thing I love to do now is to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which is also known as a farm share. If you have not already made a farm share part of your kitchen, I highly encourage it.

Here are 8 great reasons to join a CSA, plus the 411 on what to expect and how to find a good one.

  1. Local produce is more flavorful. Transporting food across countries and continents can take days to weeks. Often produce is treated for preservation and then ripened upon arrival so it looks fresh, but tastes flat.
  2. Fresher food is more nutritious. After picking, produce continues to breathe which breaks down its minerals. Broccoli, mushrooms, peas and sweet corn break down especially quickly.
  3. You eat a greater variety of nutrients. Eating seasonally naturally rotates your palate, providing different vitamins and minerals.
  4. It saves you money. You can get fresh veggies for a family of 4 for about $30 a week. If you want less, split one with friends.
  5. If your CSA is organic, which I recommend, you avoid the “Dirty Dozen”. There 12 foods highest in pesticides, include spinach and berries. For more, click here. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/the-dirty-dozen-and-clean-15-of-produce/616/
  6. You lower carbon emissions. It is estimated that the average grocery store produce travels 1500 miles to reach you, generating more carbon emissions that cause global warming.
  7. You will be helping keep local farms alive. The guaranteed income stabilizes farm income and helps them survive in the face of industrial agriculture.
  8. Act now — CSA’s sell out in early spring!

Interested? Here’s the 411

How CSAs Work: CSA stands for community supported agriculture. You purchase a share of a farm’s produce for a period of time such as the summer or the summer and fall. Most payments are made up front.

What You Get: Each week you receive a portion of what was harvested that week. There are no guarantees, but squash, tomatoes, greens and berries are common. Some CSAs also offer eggs, dairy and even meat.

Quantity: Most CSAs shares are intended to serve a family of 4. However, unless you eat a lot of vegetables, consider splitting a share with another family.

Organic or Not: Not all CSAs are organic. Look around if this is important to you. My recommendation is to go for organic. Greens and berries carry high levels of pesticides and are considered part of the “Dirty Dozen” or the 12 foods to buy organic. Cliff notes version: anything that grows above ground and does not have a rind or skin that is removed before eating is likely to carry pesticides unless the farm is pesticide free.

Pick Up Locations: Consider this carefully. Most CSA’s require pick up at a central location. How far are you able to go each week?

Sold? Click here to find a list of mainly organic CSA serving Connecticut, or google “find a CSA in XXX area.”

Photo Credit: Flicker Charles Smith. Stoneledge farms CSA

Reprinted. First published in Greenwichtime.com

How to blend flavors when cooking from scratch

For anyone who wants to adapt recipes to your taste or play with layering flavors, this is my unique, unorthodox understanding of flavor creation. It won me a cooking competition, judged by top NYC chefs like Jacques Pépin and Alain Sailhac.

This piece covers what I see as the key elements, how to identify what is missing and how to bring a dish to the next level. Cliff notes version: its all about smell and balance.

By way of background, I am a “make it up as you go” cook. David calls me “MacGyver” in the kitchen because I can take 4 random things and cobble together a meal. It all started as a kid with a dairy allergy. Initially I taught myself to cook because I wanted chocolate cake. From there I kept trying new dishes and loved the artistry of creating a meal, figuring out the relationships between flavors.

There are 3 main elements I play with in food: flavor, texture and energy. This piece is about flavor.

Here’s the shocker: About 75% of what we think is taste is actually smell. This is why food seems tasteless when you are congested. Smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than our other senses. Scent is powerful and primal. It activates the limbic system which influences emotions and memories. This is why a whiff of something can bring you back to your childhood.  For more click here and here.

Before we get to smell, let’s go over the basics of taste. There are 5 recognized tastes, excluding several new ones currently being researched in Japan. The conventional tastes are: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, savory (umami). Most foods are sweet, salty or savory or a blend, which is highly satisfying. Add sugar to create sweetness, salt to create salty and meat or spice to create savory. Pretty simple.

Beyond that, you may notice that some dishes work well, others have seem to be missing something or are overpowering. This is about the layering of spices and flavors, which I believe is “read” by our sense of smell.

Taking a step back to think how to blend spices to create the effect you want, I always think of fragrance training from my days developing beauty products. While I have never heard anyone else describe food in this way, this framework is what I use to identify what is missing and how to balance it.

There are 3 ranges of notes in any fragrance.

  1. The Top Note: This is what you sense immediately and passes quickly. It is usually a light, fresh scent that “brightens” the fragrance. Citrus is a common top note. Ginger or cilantro are common in food.
  2. The Middle Note: This is hits your senses after the top note has passed, bridging the top and base notes and harmonizing the fragrance. Middle notes are mellow such as lavender or other florals, or cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and vegetables.
  3. The Base Note: This is rich and earthy. It creeps up on you and then lingers. Think of wood scents like sandalwood or heavy spice like green coriander, chili, cayenne pepper, mustard, animal meat.

Here are two examples of this in practice:

  •  Kale Salad: A while back I was making a sesame kale salad with a few friends. We added massaged curly kale, sesame seeds and sesame oil, roasted carrots and onions, lemon and sea salt. But something was missing. There was no contrast, it was too light and zingy. The sesame and carrots were mellow with a hint of sweet. It needed a floor or a base note, something a bit heavy and earthy to ground the dish. Salt isn’t the answer, it just brings out the current flavor. Balsamic might be nice, except it would fight the sesame which is unique and brilliant here. So we tried a bit of Worcestershire sauce. Heavy, dark but plays well with sesame. I think it worked.
  • Fish Curry: Trying our hand at a South Indian Curry we used garlic, onion and ginger in a tomato coconut sauce with cayenne pepper. We added a generous amount of the basic Indian spice, garam masala, which is really a mix of spices, with this particular version being heavy on chili powder. The effect was an immediate hit of ginger and hot chili and a heavy lasting feel of the cayenne. But the two seemed separate, there was nothing in the middle. So I added some mid notes: turmeric, a mild, traditional Indian spice that is great for inflammation and a bit of cumin. I also added coriander reminds me of South India. This made it more connected and complete.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions!

Xo

A

South Indian Fish CurrySouth Indian Fish Curry

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15

I love Indian food. After spending a month in Indian, I returned to New York craving Indian food when all my travel companions wanted burgers. But I have always felt it was too complex for me. The layering of spices, slow cooking and the richness was intimidating. But when two friends, one of whom is married to a Indian guy, offered to host our next recipe group we decided to try our hand at a few classic Indian dishes.

We found a nice fish curry recipe online from Steamy Kitchen which we liked but I was hoping for something more like what I had tasted in the souther state of Kerala. We also realized (watch out for this!) that the garam masala mix we used was heavy on chili powder thus quite hot. So I stared experimenting with softer spices and wanted to add a few vegetables. For more on how to blend flavors, check out my unorthodox framework here, which is based on smell.

Adapted from Steamy Kitchen. Thank you!

Ingredients: 

Note – there are a lot of spices, but the dish itself is easy to make!

  • 1.5 lbs Swordfish, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 2 large green chilies
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Heat a deep frying pan to medium and add a swirl of vegetable oil.
  2. Chop the onion into ½ inch cubes or smaller if you prefer. Grate the ginger and mince the garlic. Remove the seeds from the chilies and slice them into slices ¼ inch wide.
  3. Add to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes or until clear. Stir occasionally
  4. While this is cooking, chop the red pepper into long thin strips about ½ inch wide and add as soon as they are ready.
  5. Add the tomato pure and the spices, stirring in for 3 minutes
  6. Add the coconut milk and the water. Stir in and cook for 2 minutes
  7. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the fish and the spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve with long basmati rice or nan.

Molten Chocolate BombeServes 8

Time: 1 hour (15 minutes prep, 30 minutes bake, 10 minutes to cool)

Calories: 356

Mamma’s gonna knock you out…. If you like flourless chocolate cake this takes it to a whole new level. A friend described it as a liquid mounds bar. By using coconut instead of butter, you get more flavor and less sugar.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (12 oz) semi sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a double boiler, turn the water on medium and melt the chocolate
  3. Add the coconut oil to the chocolate, stirring until smooth
  4. Move the mixture to a 10 inch round glass bowl or casserole dish. The deeper bowl, the gooier the cake.
  5. Wisk in the sugar, then the eggs.
  6. Add a pinch of salt.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Ensure the top is hard. The middle will remain molten chocolate due to the depth of the bowl. Cool for 10 minutes.
  8. Serve the cake in this dish with a large spoon into mugs. Optional: add coconut ice cream.

Adapted from Epicurious Flourless Chocolate Cake 

Mussles in Tomato Coconut Sauce

Serves: 6 appetizers (~12 mussels per person)

Time: 15-20 minutes

Calories: 215

Mussels have quickly become one of my favorite easy winter meals. They seem fancy but are very easy to make and quite filling. The coconut milk makes this dish rich. To lighten it up, cut the quantity of coconut milk in half.

Nutritionally, mussels are good for those who avoid meat because they are high in B-vitamins (B12, Folate) and Iron which are hard to get without meat. They are also a good source of selenium for hypothyroid sufferers and Omega 3s, which reduce inflammation. For more nutrition info click here.

 

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs of fresh mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
  • 1 large can (28 oz) peeled, crushed tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Small bunch of Fresh oregano and basil
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Salt

Directions

  1. In a deep saucepan add a swirl of olive oil and the garlic, then heat to medium.
  2. Chop the onions and add to the pan, sautéing until they are clear.
  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and then add the coconut milk and herbs. Add about 5 grinds of black pepper and a 3 shakes of salt. Turn down to medium low (2 or 3 on the burner) and simmer for a few moments
  4. Rinse and check the mussels. Discard any cracked mussels. If any are open, tap them against the counter. If the shell does not close, throw it out.
  5. Taste the broth and add more pepper if you want more of a kick, or salt to bring out the flavor more.
  6. Add the mussels to the broth and cover, cooking for 5 to 10 minutes, until all the mussels are open.
  7. Serve in bowls with a dump pot for the shells.

Should I stick out this job or move on?

Here’s a question I get frequently: I don’t like my job but I feel stuck. What should I do?

Below are 8 questions to diagnose what’s going on and give you a few realistic options.

For context, I have worked in a wide range of organizations and roles, including a huge financial corporation, an even bigger multinational, a small non-profit, a highly political NGO, a mid sized creative company and am now a solo entrepreneur. Functions have included: research, policy, marketing, management and advisory roles.

What I learned is that every path has trade offs. Yet, career is a vital part of happiness and we owe it to ourselves and the world to find the best fit possible. I also am living proof that transitions are entirely possible, with a bit of ingenuity.

The Questions: 

  1. Did you change jobs in the past 6 months?
    1. If so, you may be reacting to a steep learning curve. I always want to quit a job initially, even if I love it later. Remind yourself why you choose this role in the first place. What were you hoping to gain. If after 6 months it’s still not working, read on.
  2. Are you just a little burned out or totally over it?
    1. When you return from vacation well rested and refrehsed, are you interested and engaged at work? If so, then you probably just needed a vacation.
    2. Do you dread Sunday nights, knowing you have to work on Monday? If this is happening consistently then something is off. Read on.
  3. Are you aligned on the major objectives of the industry today?
    1. Can you easily sell its products or services?
    2. Are you happy to tell your friends which industry you are in or what you are doing for the industry, such as making energy cleaner?
    3. If not, consider how it impacts you. For many, industry isn’t important. However if you are feeling conflicted or drained, switch to an industry you can align to. You will do better work.
  4. Do you enjoy about 70% of the typical work that you do?
    1. Or are you in managing timelines and crave being creative? Are you crunching numbers alone all day and long to be with people? Did you love doing the work until you got promoted and now realize you managing people isn’t your thing?
    2. If you don’t enjoy most of the work you do, then it is the wrong role for you. Having worked in different functional roles, I believe people do their best work and feel most fulfilled when they are in the right function. Can you leverage your company and product knowledge and move laterally to better function within your organization? This is much easier than moving to a new function at a different organization.
  5. Do you respect your leaders and the way your organization is run?
    1. Even more important, does doing the job require you to act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs?
    2. Acting against your personal beliefs causes tremendous stress and can damage your reputation. If you don’t respect the leadership it will be hard to do their bidding, which weakens your career trajectory. You owe it to yourself to find a better organization.
  6. Does the organization generally support your lifestyle?
    1. Outside of crunch times, are you able to do what you need to do to maintain your personal health & happiness?
    2. Do you value your family or taking care of your health, yet consistently work 70 to 80 hour weeks?
    3. If this is an issue, explore what you can do within your organization first. Often a lot more is possible than you think. Most companies will take as much as you give them. It’s up to you to take care of yourself. Watch how the senior executives at your organization manage their time. Many live by clear boundaries and downtime rituals. For example, change how you manage your workday so you can be home for dinner or exercise class. Set specific times to check email on weekends (eg. Saturday at noon and Sunday night). You may want to discuss options with your boss to get buy in and set clear expectations.
    4. If after doing everything you can reasonably do the lifestyle is still unmanageable, look for an organization that supports your lifestyle and values. You don’t want to wake up in 20 years sorry you never had kids because you felt like work left you time to date or parent.
  7. Do you spontaneously think about projects while not at work and find yourself curious or happy? Are you learning and growing?
    1. If not, then you are bored. The truth is, there will always be moments when you are on a project longer than you would like. Can you get transferred to a new project within the next 6 months or so? Can you take on something else you enjoy in addition to this project, perhaps volunteer for a stretch project that could lead to a promotion?
  8. Are things going well with your boss?
    1. You don’t have to love your boss. Having a boss is more about what you can do for them then what they can do for you. As long as you have what you need to do your job, you are in a good situation. Take a step back to see it more objectively, through your boss’s eyes. What is their objective?
    2. If you feel ignored or unsupported by your boss? Can you set up a regular status meeting to share your progress and request advice or support on specific items?
    3. Is your boss a slave driver or micromanager? If so, can you find something of value in the situation, such as expertise, attention to detail or learning how something really works?
    4. Do you feel like you are doing all the work? Fresh out of graduate school, I had a boss who seemed to do nothing but talk to people. He was never in his office. I felt like a sucker, until I asked about a project and he showed me all the behind the scenes work required to align leadership on our projects. I walked away respecting him 10x more, and learning a tremendous amount.
    5. Caveat: if your boss is actively out to get you and is there to stay, then you must get out of there to keep your reputation and upward momentum. A few good books on this: “Art of War for Women” and “Corporate Confidential” to understand the politics in these situations. I personally suck at office politics.

I hope this has given you more clarity on the nature of your career issue as well as a few concrete next steps.

If you find that both your current function and your industry or organization no longer fit for the life you want to lead, then a larger jump is needed. This is often extremely fulfilling. I invite you to read my story or my clients’ stories for inspiration. However, it takes openness, a smart strategy, using your connections and doing the legwork.

I highly recommend focusing on what lights you up – what you enjoy and are good at. I can help you figure this out and how to get there.

xo

Adelma

Build what's important to you

Are you at a crossroads, asking what’s next for me?

For many driven people this question is tricky. We are faced with a mountain of “shoulds’. I SHOULD:

  • go for the promotion
  • change jobs
  • date more
  • be a better partner
  • be healthier
  • volunteer for stuff
  • etc.

The problem with “shoulds” is that they are someone else’s idea of what’s right for you. You can follow them but it never feels fulfilling.

 

Instead, I say: build what’s important to you.

The fact is no one can do it all or be great at everything. Trying is exhausting. When you give up the “shoulds”, you give yourself permission to go for what’s important to you right now. At different points in your life it will change, so focus on the one thing that is most important to you now, this year.

The result: you feel more fulfilled from your efforts, spend more time on this activity and usually be highly successful at it: a virtuous cycle.

How do you know what’s important to you? Try answering these three questions:

  • What do you long for? What would you always regret not doing?
  • What lights you up?
  • What do you spend your free time (and money) on?

If your brain is still getting caught in the “shoulds”, try a collage. Tapping into the creative side of your brain will bypass the “shoulds” and show you want you really want.

For more info on how to do this, click here.

 

The Future Belongs to ThoseWhat a year! For many of you it has been a whirlwind of changes. Here’s to you for going for it! Among the gorgeous souls I work with, we have many firsts:

  • first marathon
  • starting the dream business, with raging success
  • writing the book
  • an exciting new job
  • loosing 30 pounds
  • being on the path to financial independence
  • dating a guy who makes her blush
  • falling in love while focusing on fulfillment
  • two babies and one on the way

Each is uniquely personal, fulfilling and shows the power of asking what’s important to you. Also striking is the sense of peace, joy and confidence that taking the time to invest in yourself brings. For more on their stories, click here.

In my corner of the world, I fell in love with best man I know and we moved to the country with grass between our toes. That’s several dreams at once 🙂

So I send a big THANK YOU to all my fabulous clients who trust me to make big leaps. THANK YOU to my mom, my family, to Savor, to the Res Dogs, to MJ and Marco at the amazing NY Loves Yoga, to MindBodyGreen and the Sky’s the Limit Radio, to Daria, Nozomi and my fierce FGMs.

And last but not least, to David. You were worth waiting for.

My wish for each of you this holiday season is for your own personal version of joy.

Xo
Adelma

Chief Life Changer

This Sunday, I will be running the NYC Marathon, my first in my home city.

I am by no means a competitive runner which is why people often shake their heads when I mention a 22-mile run in pouring rain and ask why?

It’s a tough question. Running is a funny thing for me. I have done it, albeit slowly, for 23 years and yet I am never sure why I do it besides that I have to get home somehow. In reflecting on the question, I’ve come to realize that this answer is indeed true, but for a deeper reason.

17 years ago I chose me over hiding and stopped drinking. I was 20.

Young, I know. My first drink was at age four, a sip of scotch at a cocktail party. I can still taste it. The second the warm burn hit my lips, power surged through my veins. It was like a switch was flipped, everything that was wrong with me was all of a sudden right. It was on fire. Amazing that at age 4 I already thought something was wrong with me. As a highly sensitive kid, with deep emotions and empathy, I didn’t know how to manage my emotions or create boundaries from what people wanted. So I was unfailingly nice, smart, the good girl. And I was angry, unappreciated and misunderstood inside. So I drank to fix it, to fix myself.

Fast-forward 16 years, past bravado and bad choices. I lost my grandmother and started looking for a better way.

I ran myself sober, choosing the NYC pavement over scotch to figure out how to value myself instead of search for value outside of me. Running was an act of faith that there was a better way. It was choosing me. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I had to keep going. I prayed a simple thank you for 90% of each runs because I didn’t have anything else constructive to think. My ego would get me all tripped up. Of course the endorphins helped and it worked. But I was forcing it. The best thing about it was how good it felt after I was done.

Fast forward another sober 14 years and my kidney failed, paradoxically during my “live life” tour to celebrate the life of my step-father after his passing. Brokenhearted, I surrendered. Not at first of course. Actually I fought it kicking and screaming for months in a black hole of tears. But I finally surrendered to being vulnerable, to life turning out not at all like I had hoped on many dimensions as a single corporate slog of 34. Barely able to walk, I dreamt of running free.

When I started running again, looping the reservoir that first time back after surgery, I realized running free meant not forcing it. For some reason, I was able to see that I had to stop forcing it in running before I saw the parallels in my career and my personal life. I no longer needed to run to overcome something. What my body wanted was to run in joy.

So I ran into the silence of the woods or the sirens on my block, feeling the slightly off rhythm of my footfalls, gratitude for the strength in my body to carry me forward, and quite often a state of joy. Listening, I followed my gut to a new career, an amazing man and a deeper peace than I have known.

This marathon, my 3rd, is for joy.

Thank you legs. Thank you dirt and pavement. Thank you NYC. Thank you me.