Kale, Quinoa & Cranberry

Kale salad with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and Aunt Becky’s cranberry sauce is a nice start to the New Year. I must first give credit to another lovely blogger, Kellies Food to Glow, for the original inspiration to use fresh cranberries in a vinaigrette, Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette. I must then give credit to my friend Deb who introduced me to kale 7is years ago. You can follow the rabbit trail or just skip to the recipe below.

salad finished

In September 2006, I was diagnosed with MS. I was 32. I had physical symptoms from my neck down, including the ability to walk only with a walker and three physical therapists holding onto me, muscle spasms, numbness, a sensation of electric shock when I bent my neck and incredible pain when my skin was touched. It was horrible. But I was oddly at peace too. I prayed for several years leading up to my diagnosis that God would do whatever it took in my life to change me. Ironic as it may sound now, I believe my MS diagnosis was the answer to my prayers.

Researching like mad, I learned that the traditional drug therapy for MS, kind-of sucks. It has a 30% effectiveness rate, unless you take the one that kills people and the number jumps to 50%. Also, it destroys your internal organs and makes you experience flu-like symptoms weekly for the rest of your life. No thanks. Different neurologists paraded through my hospital room daily giving me statistics and trying to scare me into starting the drug therapy. They told me there was a high likelihood that I would be in a wheelchair in 5 years.

After I was released from the hospital, my friend Deb came over to talk. She and two of my other friends from my church did the Gerson Therapy, a two year detox therapy, for cancer and MS with good results. I had no interest in doing the therapy because I knew it was incredible difficult. I told Deb that if God asked me to do the Gerson Therapy, He was asking for everything. She just looked at me in her calm and gracious way and gently asked, “isn’t that the point?”. Dang it! I knew I couldn’t weasel out of it.

I won’t go too much into the details, just the highlights. The Gerson Therapy is a two year plan that includes organic, freshly made juices, so many vegetables I felt like all I did was chew, and coffee enemas. It’s all organic, vegetarian, almost no sugar, no alcohol, no processed foods, no fat except flax seed oil, and no dairy except plain non-fat yogurt. It’s basically the most difficult and grueling thing I’ve ever accomplished. I even took a juicer to Mexico for a camping trip and did the therapy on the warm, lovely beach in Puerto Penasco. (This is a super dorky picture and it’s 6am, but you get the idea.)

making juice in mexico

My favorite analogy is to think of your body as a cup of mud. Slowly, clean pure water drips into the cup. After two years, your body is clean and pure and actually able to heal itself. You can check out the details at the Gerson website or check-out the book “The Gerson Therapy” from the library. There are also several documentaries on Netflix about the therapy.

So that’s what I did. I had two more major flare-ups. One during the therapy and one a year after I finished in October 2009. In the past 4 years, my MRI results show no scar tissue or new MS activity. This is not supposed to be medically possible. My other three friends are also cured of cancer and MS. Five years after completing the Gerson Therapy, I ran my first 5k.

Ho Ho 5k

Back to the kale. After about a year into the Gerson Therapy, the same vegetables get really boring! Deb introduced me to kale. I first steamed it over a bed of onion and carrots. Kale can be bitter so the light steaming over sweeter veggies counteracts the bitterness and makes it taste yummy. This week, I went on a kale-bender. Not that there is such a thing, but it makes me laugh. I tossed raw kale with grated carrots, balsamic vinaigrette, dried cranberries and sliced almonds for lunch every day. Yum! Tonight, I decided to up my game and create a new recipe with cranberry sauce vinaigrette.

For those of you who haven’t cooked quinoa, it cooks like white rice. A ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa does the trick. Quinoa is considered an “ancient grain”. That doesn’t mean it’s only for the elderly, just that it’s pure and whole and chock-full of vitamins and minerals, just like kale. Don’t be afraid. Just try it.

Kale Salad with Quinoa and Cranberry Vinaigrette

Gather It

Salad

  • 6 cups shredded kale (about 1/2 a bunch)
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • 2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Hard grated cheese (I used creamy toscano but parmesan would be a good choice too)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 3 tbsp. Aunt Becky’s cranberry sauce
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (I’m in love with Lucero olive oils. The flavor is incredible and the oils are made in California.)
  • Juice of one small Meyer lemon
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. fresh ground salt

Make It

Quinoadressing rawsalad quinoa

  • Bring water or chicken broth to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat to simmer and cover
  • Cook for 13 to 15 minutes. Remove lid to allow quinoa to cool
  • While quinoa is cooking, mix dressing
  • Combine minced red onion, cranberry sauce, olive oil, Meyer lemon juice and salt
  • Divide shredded kale into two large salad bowls
  • Top with warm quinoa (the quinoa lightly softens the kale which makes is sweeter)
  • Add tomatoes and 1/2 of salad dressing
  • Finish with shredded cheese and coarsely chopped pecans

Gobble It

  • Makes 2 large dinner salads
  • Enjoy alone or with warm bread dipped in olive oil and an oaky chardonnay
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