Friday links

Hello, wonderful friends. Has this week been as much a struggle for you as it has for me? Living so far north, the time change means it’s dark when I wake up, making it much more difficult to get moving. Here’s hoping next week is easier!



Beyond Vegetarian: More specific labels like “climatarian” and “reducetarian” can help people stick to their food choices by making them feel like part of a community. This is a really great article, as I am so often asked if I eat fish, chicken, etc. My answer (in my head) is always “no, I’m a vegetarain.” I believe the specific labels both explain ones diet and often the reason why they have that diet. What do you think of this often hot-button issue?

For my runner friends: 8 ridiculous things people say to runners. Question: How many of these have you heard? Answer: Too many!


Are you thinking of planting a garden or joining a community supported agriculture program for the first time this year? If so, be sure to check out my guide on CSA and garden planning and steps.

No-bake peanut butter chocolate cookie | Kale and Ale

No-bake peanut butter chocolate cookie

If you are looking for an easy vegan and gluten free dessert, make this: No-bake peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. I made them for a work lunch yesterday and they were easy to  make and crazy tasty.

Have you signed up? I am starting a newsletter, sure to be the easiest way to stay updated on new Kale and Ale blog posts and happenings. With a few fun things planned for the spring, now is the time to get on the list and make sure you don’t miss anything! Sign up here.

5 Things Being Vegetarian Taught Me

5 things being vegetarian taught me | Kale and AleToday marks 20 years I’ve been a vegetarian, and there are five things I’ve learned from it. I was 15 when I became a vegetarian, so I couldn’t even think 20 years into the future. I started with a plan to be vegetarian for one week, and 1,040 weeks later I’m still hanging on, with no plans to ever stop.

I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons. Growing up in Iowa, I could see cows at the edge of my development from my kitchen. I was surrounded by cornfields and understood the process food takes to get to our plate, and it didn’t sit right that animals were sacrificed for us. I have always understood and respected that it’s a personal journey and decision as to what one eats, and for me that means keeping animal products off my plate.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum kale |

Happy place: Within the kale at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

What has been a growing and learning experience goes beyond food, shaping me into who and how I am today. These are the five things being vegetarian has taught me.


In a way this was already a trait, as it’s the reason I became vegetarian. But like I said, I was 15 at the time, so my world scope was pretty narrow. Being vegetarian and attuned to the needs and rights of animals has made me more aware of others suffering. There really is so much suffering, and I try to always look and think of others needs ahead of my own—not to be confused with at my own expense.

Do I need this extra fancy coffee or can I donate 5 or 10 more dollars to the charity I’m giving to now? I won’t enjoy that coffee as much as someone suffering. I love giving and receiving gifts that have a story behind them or the money goes to an artist or organization. I tend to think about things like this.


Being vegetarian often means being the odd one out or minority. Going to restaurants or events, you have to request something and often get creative with the menu: Can you substitute/leave off this? Does this contain this hidden ingredient? How large are the sides so I can make a meal?

Even at home, I like to replicate dishes I’ve had or seen, vegetarian or otherwise. The entire reason for this blog was built on my creativity: I wanted to show others they too can lead a minimally processed life without sacrificing time or money. I enjoy recipe creation, thinking of new ways to make classic dishes and coming up with new flavor and texture combinations.


Both in eating and life, I’ve learned to say yes more, in both food and life. I used to make sure I knew how things would turn out or what to expect, but now I jump in more. I don’t want to miss opportunities just because I don’t know the answer or outcome beforehand. This has always worked out in my favor, and related to food, I’ve gotten to try and love many foods that people who eat meat don’t seem to eat often, or go to vegetarian/vegan/raw food restaurants in neighborhoods I would otherwise not visit.


Education is always needed when a vegetarian. Staying on top of what is in foods is never-ending: Prepared foods and restaurants can change recipes at any time and it’s important to know what is in your food. Views on a healthy diet have changed a lot in the 20 years I became a vegetarian; in 1996 people thought complete proteins needed to be eaten together for the most benefit and now we know that isn’t true and fad diets have come, went and sometimes come again. Keeping up and staying educated is important.


I’m not a patient person by nature, and it’s something I’m always trying to get better at, but being a vegetarian presents many opportunities to practice my patience. Many people ask a lot of questions that, to me, seem obvious or straightforward, but I put on a smile and use it as an opportunity to explain explain my stance and beliefs, and why I stand where I do regarding animals.

More information

It’s never been easier to be a vegetarian than it is now. It’s very common for people to not be vegetarian and eat less meat for health, there are so many resources, celebrity chefs are making meatless cool and menus in restaurants are often clearly marked as to what kind of diet can have that meal, among other things.

To learn more and get started, some good websites for more information include:

RECIPE: Get started with this simple chickpea patty recipe, the first recipe I made as a vegetarian and still one of my favorites.

RELATED: A real vegetarian’s view on fake meat


2015 In Review: Food

2015yearinreviewfoodThis is the first in a series this week featuring highlights from 2015. Today I take a look at food and recipes I’ve enjoyed this year. Wednesday we look at some of the active things I did this year, including my amazing summer trip that I never got around to blogging about. We look at drinks Friday, so come back all week, and share your highlights of each topic in the comments!

The first half of this year it was quiet on the blog, and I’m moving away from so many recipes on the blog, instead focusing on a healthy, balanced lifestyle blog. With the addition of buying a house late 2014, my eating out budget and time has decreased. But I still love to eat and make every meal special and count. Below are some of my food highlights from the year.


When in Seattle in March, the person working the desk suggested a new restaurant nearby known for its craft cocktails and innovative good. With a focus on unique drinks and the catchy, appropriate name Damn the Weather, I was in love. Later this year it was named a top 50 new restaurant in America by Bon Appetite magazine.

Closer to home, I had heard only great things about the chef-driven tasting menu at Travail. I went for my birthday and loved every minute of it. It was like performance art, dinner and a show. I thought being a vegetarian meant I would miss out on some things, but that wasn’t the case, so it was great. Read about my experience.lSns8u


I’m moving away from so many recipes on the blog, but when I eat I’m focusing on eating meals with fewer animal products and less gluten. Two of my favorite recipes I’ve made this year include a tofu scramble that doesn’t make me miss eggs at all and pizza using zucchini slices as the crust for a less-guilt alternative.

Tofu scramble breakfast |

Tofu scramble with hash browns, apple slices and can’t forget the coffee.


This year I made a point to go to the Minnesota State Fair, and food and drink was the main attraction. I tried all the specialty beers I had hoped to sample, but of course my first stop was for cheese curds.

All in all, it’s been a tasty, successful 2015, and I’m a happy girl. What are your food-related highlights of 2015?

Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad

Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad | Recipe |

Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad

As the weather gets colder, I gravitate toward warmer, heartier dishes. However, my love for salads doesn’t subside just because the temperatures drop, so a heartier and warmer dish is in order. Like many who live in cold and snowy (although not yet, I’ll take it!) climates, I am looking for more substantial food in the winter. Combining kale with the Minnesota favorite wild rice creates a filling and chewy salad that holds up as either a side or a lighter main dish. And the deep red pomegranate seeds provide a pop of flavor that is worth the minimal effort of getting the seeds from the fruit. (Learn how to deseed a pomegranate.)

I love making this salad because the vinaigrette only gets better over time, so make it on a Sunday and have it as an easy side dish or quick lunch early in the week. The recipe only calls for half the vinaigrette for the kale, but it’s a warming topping full of flavor that if you are like me, you’ll be adding more to the salad so the rice can soak it up.

Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad dressing | KaleAndAle

It’s important to massage the kale with the vinaigrette so the kale wilts a little.

By leaving out the optional parmesan or feta cheese, this gluten-free recipe is also vegan, or is vegetarian with the addition of a salty cheese. And because the salad tastes good cold or room temperature, it makes a festive holiday dish that everyone can enjoy. Because you are cooking the rice while getting the rest of the salad ready, it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.

Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad | Recipe |
Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad
Print Recipe
A hearty and filling wither salad that is great as a side dish or main meal.
Servings Prep Time
3-6 people, depending if main or side dish 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3-6 people, depending if main or side dish 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad | Recipe |
Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad
Print Recipe
A hearty and filling wither salad that is great as a side dish or main meal.
Servings Prep Time
3-6 people, depending if main or side dish 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3-6 people, depending if main or side dish 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings: people, depending if main or side dish
  1. For the vinaigrette, in a bowl or shaker add the cumin, vinegar, oil and salt and pepper and blend. Set aside.
  2. Place the kale in a large bowl, top with half the vinaigrette and massage into the kale to slightly wilt for a few minutes.
  3. Fold in the rice and pomegranate seeds.
  4. Top with cheese or nutritional yeast (if using) and more vinaigrette if desired. Can be eaten right away or later to let flavors develop, cold or at room temperature.
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Preview: Twin Cities Veg Fest 2015

Vegan shirt design by Flickr user Ballookey Klugeypop

Vegan shirt design by Flickr user Ballookey Klugeypop

Twin Cities Veg Fest 2015 takes place Sunday, Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Coffman Memorial Union on the University of Minnesota Campus. I haven’t been and was interested in checking it out. When Laura from One Girl, Two Cities said it’s worth going for the samples if nothing else, I knew I would make it a priority to go! And even if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, read five ways the event is for everyone.

Unny Nambudiripad

Unny Nambudiripad

The vegan fest features exhibitors, samples, cooking demos and talks. To get to know a little more about it as a first-time attendee and to maximize my experience, I talked with Unny Nambudiripad of Compassionate Action for Animals, which puts on the event.

Kale and Ale: What should first-time attendees know/expect?

Unny: It’s a free event, there’s lots to see, you can stay for five minutes or five hours, and you can engage as personally or from afar as you like. Basically, it’s an accessible event! ​We’re showcasing the thriving veg-friendly community that the Twin Cities has to offer and I’ll leave it to your own judgment, but I think you’ll be impressed!

Kale and Ale: What can’t be missed at this year’s Veg Fest?

Unny: ​The cooking demos and the food court. We’ve moved the cooking demos to a much larger space that can hold 400 people! Cooking your own food is a great way to eat affordable, healthy and fresh food, and our instructors will show you how. We’ve also moved the food court to the third floor in the Mississippi Room. We have a special gift for everybody who just goes to the third floor.

Kale and Ale: What’s new this year from other years and back that is popular?

​Unny: The Herbivorous Butcher is both new and back! They are new because this year they will be selling hot food ready-to-eat in the food court. They will also be back, as they have before, selling their meat-free meats for you to take home. French Meadow, Gorkha Palace and Jasmine Deli are new food court vendors that we’re excited about. They each have restaurants that we love. Molly Spring Rolls, Seward Cafe and Glam Doll Donuts are returning vendors that we’re excited about.​ We have two new speakers: Toni Okamoto of Vegan Outreach and Mikael Nielsen of Mercy for Animals. Both are exciting. Toni has worked on educating people about eating vegan affordably, and Mikael is a friend of mine and he models persistence and compassion.

Whew, with that lineup I know I’ll come hungry for food and knowledge. I’m really excited to attend, as I’ve never been to something like this. Have you been to a veggie fest? What were your thoughts and impressions?