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Why do we crave? Recipe for One-Pot Kale & Quinoa Pilaf

For months my family has enjoyed every kind of protein, both fish and meat, charred on the grill with fresh squeezed lime or lemon, paired with a seasonal vegetable and usually topped off with fresh berries and s’mores home-toasted on our fire pit. And now as the chilly air moves in, my taste buds and body crave meals that are warm and hearty. It is really quite fascinating when we stop and take inventory of what our body is telling us. When we truly allow the time to explore the different cravings and signals we feel we can reclaim the sense of balance and bodily harmony.

My meal plans and recipes also take on a new form this season. Teaser! If you’re in the need for some new ideas that rotate each week reach out to me via my website and I’ll provide a free week of meal planning, recipes and tips.

Whether we crave sweets or salt, yearn for meat or sugar, there is an underlying reason for these shifts and we must dialogue with our bodes as they’re talking to us all the time to keep us alive and functioning. Joshua Rosenthal at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition writes “once we realize that the body is a reliable bio-computer that never makes mistakes, it’s much easier to conclude that cravings are critical pieces of information that help you understand what the body needs.” I have found, as a nutrition coach, that one of the most effective methods for overcoming habitual consumption of unhealthy foods is to simply crowd out these foods with those high in vitamins and minerals. It’s hard to eat five fruits and vegetables a day and then binge on ice cream at night. If you fill your body with healthy, nutrient-dense foods, it’s only natural that cravings for unhealthy food will lessen substantially. My personal hope is to teach people not just what we should include in our diet but to investigate the relationship with food and explore the whys.

This recipe has become a favorite of mine. I find the blend of flavors and textures is just perfect. Both the quinoa and the hearty strips of lacinato kale (you can use chard or standard kale) crunch between your teeth as do the little pops of pine nuts. The lemon juice and zest keep the quinoa from being bland and fresh goat cheese and olive oil just barely coat the warm pilaf, giving it a creamy, tangy finish. Finally, what’s better than a meal that can be prepared all in one pot? For me this is a winner that I will make for my adult friends to enjoy and will be including this in my meal prepping list this season. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

One-Pot Kale & Quinoa Pilaf

Serves 2-4

Prep time 15 min

Cook time 30 min


· 2 cups salted water

· 1 cup white uncooked quinoa

· 1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and chopped into 1" lengths (Swiss chard works too!)

· 1 lemon, zested and juiced

· 2 scallions, minced

· 1 Tbs. toasted extra virgin olive oil)

· 3 Tbs. toasted pine nuts

· 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

· Salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot. Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until it is just enough to maintain a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then top with the kale and re-cover. Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 5 more minutes.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, take a large serving bowl and combine half of the lemon juice (reserving the other half), all of the lemon zest, scallions, oil, pine nuts, and goat cheese.

3. Check the quinoa and kale when the cooking time has completed—the water should have absorbed, and the quinoa will be tender but firm, and the kale tender and bright green. If the quinoa still has a hard white center, you can steam a bit longer (adding more water if needed). When the quinoa and kale are done, fluff the pilaf, and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients. As the hot quinoa hits the scallions and lemon it should smell lovely. Toss to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper, and the remaining lemon juice if needed.

CHRISSY DAVENOPORT Revitalize & Nourish

Board Certified Holistic Health Coach, AADP, MBA

North Caldwell Resident

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