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Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Stuffed sweet potatoes are a great go-to last minute dinner — stuff them with whatever makes you happy!

Stuffed Butternut Squast (lr edit)-0126

I was in the kitchen and I had no clue what to make for dinner. It’s not that I didn’t have any ideas, it’s that I was feeling kind of lazy (OK, more than kind of lazy) and I didn’t want to go to the market. But, as I was looking around, I really felt that everything I was in the mood for required an outing, which required more energy than I was willing to put forth.

I had a few sweet potatoes left over from Thanksgiving. And these were no ordinary sweet potatoes. These tubers were almost as big as my head. I mean, obscenely huge. It was time to get them off of my counter (I mean, they were taking up so much room and I needed the space…), so I poked them with holes and roasted them in the oven. For a long time. They were so big that it took about an hour and a half for them to be done!

While they were cooking, I had a lot of time to create a stuffing.  I’ll admit that some my incentive came from my desire to forage within the confines of my kitchen so I could avoid having to put my coat on to go outside… And, let me tell you, this recipe is a keeper. Butternut squash, tomatoes, sage, pomegranate seeds, avocado, jalapeños… sooooooooo good!

Feel free to use creative license with this recipe. Use whatever you have in your fridge. I finished mine off with a drizzle of spicy sriracha mayonnaise… this, I highly recommend…

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These stuffed sweet potatoes are delicious and good for you…there are some really amazing ingredients:

Sweet potatoes are good for your digestive system. They can be good for both constipation and diarrhea. These orange gems also help rid your body of excess water, are good for breast health, help people with diabetes and actually can help ease night blindness. In olden times, it was common in China to rub mashed sweet potatoes on poison insect bites to remove the toxins. I haven’t tried this, but if you see me looking a tad orange, this will be why…

Butternut squash is more than just a delicious vegetable; it’s really good for you. It’s a good fever reducer, it can lessen stomach pain and it can be a comfort during pregnancy when the baby feels like she’s doing acrobatics. It’s also rich in carotenoids and Vitamin B6. This means it’s good for your heart and can help lower bad cholesterol. And, because butternut squash can help reduce inflammation in the body, it benefits almost everyone.

Avocados are one of my favorite foods, both for their health benefits and because they taste great. In Chinese medicine, some practitioners recommend avocados to raise the sperm count. I like them because they are good for anemia, dry skin, palpitations and hot flashes due to menopause.

Pomegranate seeds nourish the blood. In Chinese medicine, we know that many illnesses and conditions are caused by the body making poor quality blood. Pomegranate seeds are great at helping the body make good quality blood. They are also good to combat diarrhea, anemia and incontinence.

Jalapenos contain capsaicin which has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-diabetic properties. They are also rich in vitamins A, C and E. In Chinese medicine, we know that eating bitter and spicy foods can keep the body warm in the winter and can help get rid of an infection. Spicy foods can also help tremendously with certain types of arthritis and can benefit heart function.

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Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Butternut Squash, Avocado, And Jalapeños
Author: 
Recipe type: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, main course
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: serves 2
 
These sweet potatoes are stuffed with butternut squash, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeños, and pomegranate seeds... they make for an awesome simple and healthy vegetarian meal.
Ingredients
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 lb cubed butternut squash
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 7 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • ½ of an avocado, diced
  • 14 cup pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sriracha
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prick the sweet potato all over with a fork and roast it in the oven until it's done (my sweet potato was so huge that it took 1-1/2 hours in the oven!)
  3. Place the squash, tomatoes, and sage on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer.
  4. Place this tray in the oven and roast until the squash is tender and the tomatoes start to caramelize, about 35 minutes (depending on the size of your squash cubes).
  5. Make the sriracha mayo by mixing together the mayo and sriracha in a small bowl.
  6. When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven, scoop out a little of the insides if you like, then fill or top with the squash tomato mixture, the avocado, jalapeños, and pomegranate seeds.
  7. Drizzle with the spicy mayo.
  8. Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Fudge

Keep this pumpkin peanut butter fudge in your freezer and you’ll always have an awesome healing dessert ready to grab!

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Open your freezer right now. Look in. Is there a healthy grab-and-go bite-size dessert in there? If not, think how happy you would be if a tray of this deliciously creamy no-guilt fudge was starting at you.

This is how it works. I make at least one tray of petite freezer-friendly dessert every week. After dinner or when we are binge-watching TV shows, I don’t have to worry about it when Steve grabs his idea of healthy snacks (which somehow he can rationalize as being fried chips with a whole tub of dip), because I can just open the freezer and grab the best desserts ever.

This fudge is not one of those desserts that “tastes good for something that’s healthy.”

It IS really good… even if it wasn’t healthy you would grab it. I mean it. Really.

With this pumpkin peanut butter fudge in the freezer, the chips in our cabinet went stale. Yup, this one’s a winner and even trumped the chips in flavor.

A great thing about this fudge: you can  have 2 or 3 pieces without killing your diet. It’s actually good for you, tastes like a combination of decadent peanut butter fudge co-mingled with an ice-cream bonbon, and no cooking experience is required.

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I’ve made many batches of healthy fudge, but this one is my favorite. Here’s what’s in it and why it’s so good for you:

Pumpkin can help reduce pain and fever and can soothe stomach irritations. It’s a great food to treat constipation, allergies and asthma. It’s high in vitamin A and can help protect your lungs and intestines from cancer.

Cashews are really a multi-tasking nut. I use them all the time so I say it all the time: Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts. Most of the fat in cashews is unsaturated and is made up of oleic acid; this is the same acid that is found in olive oil, making these nuts a heart-healty choice. For this fudge I used cashew butter and it really is just perfect — I like the creaminess it lends to the fudge and it tastes awesome. I know some of you have a problem finding raw nuts sometimes — I’m happy to try to help you locate them if you need shopping suggestions, so just leave a comment and I will try to help. I buy then whenever and wherever I see them. I’m also lucky enough to live near a Whole Foods, so I sometimes buy them from the bulk bins here.

Dates are rich in potassium, dietary fiber and tannins. Fiber is good for your gut and tannins help the body fight inflammation and infection. Dates are also rich in vitamin A and iron. The most amazing thing about dates is that they can be used to replace sugar in almost anything. I stopped using sweetened protein powders in my smoothies and now I use unsweetened ones but I add a few dates. This fudge requires no sugar because we fill it with dates — amazing, really!

Goji berries are a chinese herb (Gou Qi Zi). They are great for your blood. I prescribe them to some people with chronic pain in the legs and lower back. They are also good for men experiencing impotence and can be used to treat some eye problems. Women who are pregnant and people with intestinal issues should be careful not to eat too many gojis, but the amount in this fudge should be fine for anyone.

Cinnamon is one of the best herbs to warm the body. It’s great if you have a cold. If you are nauseous or have diarrhea, go for the cinnamon. It also gives you energy and helps with menstrual pain. Cinnamon is used in different forms in Chinese medicine: “gui zhi” is the cinnamon twig and “rou gui” is the cinnamon bark. Both are warming and are used for a variety of ailments. In the winter I add cinnamon to all sorts of foods. It helps with the common cold, swelling, various menstrual issues and some aches and pains. Be careful with it if you have a fever because it is so warming.

Maca Root is one of the superfoods I take every day. It has many healthy benefits including increasing libido, helping menopausal symptoms, relieving menstrual cramps, regulating hormones, and increasing energy.

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Pumpkin Peanut Butter Fudge
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert, fudge
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15-18 pieces
 
It's like a dream come true: fudge that will actually heal your body. And it tastes like real fudge. Amazing!
Ingredients
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 6 Tbs cashew butter
  • 2 Tbs peanut butter
  • 1 Tbs goji berries
  • 20 pitted dates
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp maca root powder (optional)
  • For topping:
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbs raisins
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients (through maca root powder) in a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Pour into a parchment-lined loaf pan.
  3. Top with nuts and raisins.
  4. Let set in freezer at least a few hours or overnight.
  5. Cut into squares.
  6. Keep leftovers on a tray, covered in freezer.
  7. Enjoy!

Spicy Chickpea Turkey And Tomato Stew

This spicy chickpea turkey and tomato stew is so warming and healing!

Spicy Turkey, Chickpeas, And Spinach-9643

Why is it that a big pot of spicy stew makes me smile so much?

Do any of you feel the same way?

Whether it’s chili or hot and sour soup or a spicy meat and veggie concoction, just the smell of it makes me happy. Maybe that’s why a huge pot of chili is often on my stove. Or, maybe it’s because I love football and all of the traditional foods associated with the game.  I’m sure it’s partly because a big pot of simmering goodness is the perfect foil for my Chinese herbs.

But it’s mostly because it’s just so yummy! And warming! And filling!

Whatever the reason, this stew came together because I had a hankering for chili, but it wasn’t football Sunday. So, what’s a cook to do? Lots of times, I just make the chili anyway, but this day I felt like something a little different… more like stew I thought… or maybe a touch Moroccan… I just felt like taking regular chili to another level… a little more gourmet if you will (does that sound too snooty???). Since I was only cooking for a few people instead of a regular big football crowd, I figured I’d experiment. And a successful experiment it was!

I love cooking down the aromatic ingredients and then shoving (literally shoving) as many leafy greens as I can into the pot and watching them melt into the gooey goodness in the pot…

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“Pots of stuff” or “stews” are great because you can add in whatever you like and whatever your body needs at that point in time. Here’s some of what I put in this gorgeous pot:

Turkey is a healthy meat. Make sure you buy organic, pasture-raised turkey for the highest nutritional benefits. Recent research has shown turkey helps lower the risk of pancreatic cancer; however I did read some research that suggests that if you eat the skin along with the meat, some of this value is reduced, so don’t eat too much skin — this recipe uses ground turkey so it has no skin involved… Turkey also has a great protein-to-fat ratio, so it keeps you feeling full with less potential for weight gain. It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B and selenium.

In my acupuncture practice, some of my favorite conditions to treat are stress, anxiety, and depression. I’m also always looking for foods that will add to the effectiveness of these treatments. Chickpeas actually help calm the spirit. They relieve anxiety and soothe irritability… it kind of makes you realize why hummus is so popular…

Most people think of Popeye (am I dating myself??) and iron when they think of spinach. It is true that spinach contains iron, but it’s this vegetable’s lesser-known qualities that really hold my admiration. Spinach contains a substance that helps eliminate prostate cancer. It’s also great for your bones and also for memory loss. Diabetic patients may find that eating spinach helps combat excessive thirst and can even be good for night blindness. Spinach can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium, so calcium-rich foods should be avoided when eating this leafy green.

In Chinese medicine, we use tomatoes to aid in digestion and to help detoxify the body. They are also good to combat excess cholesterol, lessen inflammation and curb asthma. Tomatoes can also quench thirst, and they can help fight some kidney infections. This recipe has canned chopped tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes — double whammy!

Onions are great for your immune system; they are a natural antihistamine. Recently, I recommended that a patient with bronchitis put sliced raw onions in her socks when she went to sleep… she woke up so much better; the onion can actually draw the toxins out of the body!

Chili powder is rich in vitamins A and C and also in essential minerals. Spicy pepper is one of the most nutritious spices available. Consuming small amounts gives you a great source of potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium. Spicy peppers have been shown to ease the pain of arthritis and muscle soreness.

Turmeric is actually a Chinese herb (Jiang Huang). It is great for reducing inflammation throughout the body. If you suffer from aches and pains in your joints, try turmeric. It can help relieve menstrual pain and some other abdominal pains but, if you are pregnant, ask your doctor before you eat too much turmeric.

I love to add my Chinese herbs to anything that simmers on the stove for awhile. This time I added some Bai Shao. Bai Shao is white peony root and it’s great for yin deficiency (think menopausal symptoms…). If you want more info on this herb, just ask…

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Spicy Chickpea, Turkey, And Tomato Pot
Author: 
Recipe type: stew, chili, one-pot meal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ground turkey, chickpeas, and spinach cook in an amazing, spicy tomato sauce... so warming!
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric (just found this one-- I'm buying it for next time!)
  • ½ tsp (or more if you like more spice) chipotle chili powder (here's one I use a lot)
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika (this one sounds good - let's try it!)
  • 20 oz canned chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup sliced sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 5 oz baby spinach
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 2-minutes.
  2. Add the turkey, season with salt and pepper, and stir for about 3 minutes, or until it is starting to get some color.
  3. Add chili powders, turmeric, and smoked paprika. Cook, stirring, until no longer pink.
  4. Pour in canned tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.
  5. Add chickpeas and bring pot to a boil, then reduce heat to low and add the spinach. Let the spinach wilt and stir until it is all well combined.
  6. Cover and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes or until it's hot and smelling amazing.
  7. Ladle into bowls. Enjoy!

Persimmon Pomegranate Smoothies

When persimmon season hits you have to try these persimmon pomegranate smoothies — so sweet and so healthy!

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Here it is the day after Thanksgiving. When I walked into my kitchen this morning and looked around, I saw all of the food that remained staring at me. I’m not talking about leftovers (although there are plenty of those…); I’m talking about the fresh ingredients that I bought with grandiose ideas of preparing so many more dishes than we needed. Or that I had time to make. Or that I was in the mood to make after a few glasses of wine…

So,  this morning, on my kitchen island calling out to me were the most beautiful, huge persimmons you have ever seen. Persimmons are amazing. They are in season now and here in New York they are everywhere. The farmers markets have them, the fruit vendors on the street are carrying them, and the supermarkets are well stocked. So, a few days before the big event I bought 4 huge persimmons. I was going to make a salad with arugula, kale, persimmons, cranberries, nuts, and cheese. Well, that never happened. So… what to do with these deliciously sweet and juicy persimmons????  Breakfast smoothies!!!

If you’ve never had a persimmon, this is the time to try them. I was a first-timer up until a few weeks ago and now I’m kind of obsessed with them. I can’t figure out what fruit they are similar to, but they are great. They are really, really sweet and smooth and beautifully orange. They actually kind of taste like they look.

Persimmons being sliced-9873

These persimmon pomegranate smoothies are as good for you as they are beautiful:

Persimmons are great for some coughs and sore throats. They can also relieve diarrhea, quench thirst, and lessen the effects of a hangover. The tops/stems of persimmons are a Chinese herb (Shi Di). This herb is used to stop hiccoughs and can be mixed with other herbs to stop vomiting.

Pomegranate seeds nourish the blood. In Chinese medicine, we know that many illnesses and conditions are caused by the body making poor quality blood. Pomegranate seeds are great at helping the body make good quality blood. They are also good to combat diarrhea, anemia and incontinence.

Bananas (I like to use frozen ones that I keep in the freezer all year round) make this smoothie particularly creamy and give it a great ice-cream-like texture. Bananas are good for your intestines (an old Asian remedy was to eat a banana every day to relieve hemorrhoids) and your lungs, and they even help relieve the effects of overindulging in alcohol.

Goji berries are a chinese herb (Gou Qi Zi). They are great for your blood. I prescribe them to some people with chronic pain in the legs and lower back. They are also good for men experiencing impotence and can be used to treat some eye problems. Women who are pregnant and people with intestinal issues should be careful not to eat too many gojis, but the amount in this smoothie should be fine for anyone.

Maca Root is one of the superfoods I take every day. It has many healthy benefits including increasing libido, helping menopausal symptoms, relieving menstrual cramps, regulating hormones, and increasing energy.

Bee pollen is considered one of the most nutritious substances you can put in your body. It is higher in protein than anything animal-based and it contains an amazing amount of amino acids. It’s good for your energy, your skin, your breathing and your allergies. Add a spoonful to whatever you can.

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Persimmon Pomegranate Goji Berry Smoothies
Author: 
Recipe type: Smoothie
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
 
The bright orange taste and flavor of this smoothie is from persimmons, pomegranate seeds, goji berries, clementines, and bananas. It will brighten your day and keep you healthy!
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 large Hachiya persimmons
  • 2 Clementines
  • 2 Tbs goji berries
  • 2 Tbs pomegranate seeds
  • 1 Tbs bee pollen
  • 2 tsp maca root powder (here's a good one)
  • ⅔ cup coconut water (I like this kind)
  • 6 ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in blender (my Vitamix made quick work of this) and blend until perfectly smooth. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash And Apple Soup With Beets And Kale

I make this butternut squash and apple soup with beets and kale so often — you’ve got to try it!

butternut squash soup w kale overhead (less clarity)-1

Yay, it’s full-blown soup season! I eat soup all year round but now that Thanksgiving’s almost here, I feel better posting my soups because who doesn’t love soup when the weather gets all crisp and chilly?  I know when I post soups in the summer, some people wonder what could possibly be going on in my head… This is the soup I’m going to serve for Thanksgiving. The base of it is an amazingly warming butternut squash and apple soup but it’s kicked up with fresh turmeric. Turmeric makes it so good for you and it gives it a little spice and just look at the gorgeous color!  And the toppings (because you have to have toppings, right?) are shredded beets and garlicky kale… OMG, it’s so good…

This year, we are having Thanksgiving for the first time in our new apartment. I’m used to cooking in a big kitchen, so there are some challenges, but it will be so much fun. I’ve been testing out recipes that are great to make in advance because of working with less stove and oven  space and this one is a big winner — you should try it too. I will make it Tuesday or Wednesday and hide it in the back of the fridge til Thursday.

I make a soup every year for Thanksgiving. I don’t serve it with the meal though. I like to keep it in a pot on the stove all day for those who get hungry before the meal. I keep the soup on the burner and the toppings next to it on the counter with a stack of bowls and people just help themselves. It works out so much better than making separate appetizers and it’s really really delicious.  And, it’s really easy to hold a bowl  or mug of soup (just not those shallow bowls) in your hands while you are screaming at the TV while watching football.

This year, the soup toppings will include shredded raw beets and thinly sliced warmed garlicky kale…
kale and tongs-1

OK, now I have to tell you why this soup is a must; why it is SOOOOOO good for you.

Butternut squash is more than just a delicious vegetable; it’s really good for you. It’s a good fever reducer, it can lessen stomach pain and it can be a comfort during pregnancy when the baby feels like she’s doing acrobatics. It’s also rich in carotenoids and Vitamin B6. This means it’s good for your heart and can help lower bad cholesterol. And, because butternut squash can help reduce inflammation in the body, it benefits almost everyone.

Turmeric is actually a Chinese herb (Jiang Huang). It is great for reducing inflammation throughout the body. If you suffer from aches and pains in your joints, try turmeric. It can help relieve menstrual pain and some other abdominal pains but, if you are pregnant, ask your doctor before you eat too much turmeric. When you combine turmeric with cinnamon (yup, another Chinese herb — Rou Gui) the pain relief can be amazing.

It really is true that an apple a day is a good thing. Apples help to strengthen your heart. They are also good for your digestion and they can help eliminate mucus when you have a cold. So, the combination of apples and cinnamon and turmeric together are great for this time of year when everyone seems to be getting sick.

Kale is everywhere these days. It is extremely nutritious, and because it to so popular you can find it already washed and prepared in lots of markets. My cheat for this recipe was that I bought this kale already shredded and washed at the market. If you are using a whole bunch of kale, make sure you clean the leaves thoroughly and remove the center thick stems if they bother you (me… I don’t really mind them if the kale is cooked). This dark leafy green is a great source of fiber and calcium. It’s also rich in many minerals, including magnesium, iron and potassium. One serving contains 200% of the daily requirements of Vitamin C and 180% of Vitamin A.

Beets are SO good for you. I try to find ways to fit them into my meals as much as possible. Really… many times a week. Beets nourish blood and tonify the heart. Athletes are starting to drink beet juice as a form of endurance therapy. They are anti-carcinogenic, good for anemia, and relieve constipation. I also think it’s a great idea to eat them raw sometimes because their amazing goodness is even more pumped up this way.

butternut squash soup side-1

Butternut Squash And Apple Soup With Beets And Kale
Author: 
Recipe type: soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Butternut squash combines with apples and turmeric for the most amazing and healthful soup ever. And, as if that wasn't enough... the toppings are garlicky kale and shredded beets!
Ingredients
  • For soup:
  • 1 Tbs ghee or grassfed butter
  • 1-1/2 lb butternut squash chunks
  • 1 med onion, roughly chopped
  • 1-inch piece of fresh turmeric root, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 large apple, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 large sage leaves, chopped
  • For kale:
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic gloves, sliced
  • 2 cups finely shredded lacinto (black) kale leaves
  • shredded raw beets (for topping)
  • extra sage leaves, chopped (for topping)
Instructions
  1. In a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, melt the ghee. Add the squash, onion, cinnamon stick, apple, and curry powder. Season with salt.
  2. Season with salt and stir for about 5 minutes, until the veggies start to soften a bit and everything is coated well.
  3. Pour in the broth. Stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook about 30 minutes, or until the squash is soft.
  4. Meanwhile, make the kale: In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, and saute the garlic until it is just starting to brown (but don't burn it!).
  5. Add the kale to the skillet, Raise the heat to high and with your tongs, toss the kale continuously until it's all coated with the garlicky oil. Then turn off the heat. This should only take about 1 minute. Season with salt.
  6. When the soup is done cooking, discard the cinnamon stick and transfer the soup to a blender (my Vitamix made this soup like velvet). I did this in 2 batches so as not to overfill the blender with hot soup. Cover the blender tightly with a clean dish cloth and whiz it up until it's velvety smooth. Use a dish towel instead of the blender cover, so the steam can escape.
  7. Transfer the cooked soup back into the pot.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls or mugs.
  9. Put the kale and beets in separate bowls.
  10. Put a big dollop of beets in the center of each bowl and sprinkle with extra sage.
  11. Serve the kale alongside and let people choose whether to put in in their soup or eat it on the side.
  12. Enjoy!