All Hail the Kale Salad with Almonds

All Hail the Kale Salad with Almonds

So you say you want to eat more veggies? Well, maybe you should get to know the Veggie Queen. Meet Jill Nussinow, the vegan chef who tirelessly champions the joys of eating plants. I’ve mentioned Jill before. I blogged and cooked a delicious dish from her last book, The New Fast Food which is all about using the pressure cooker to get genuinely healthy, truly fast meals on the table using the pressure cooker.


Nutrition Champs!

Nutrition Champs!

Her latest effort is an ebook, soon to become a print book. You can snap up the e-version of Nutrition Champs The Veggie Queen’s Guide to Eating and Cooking for Optimum Health, Happiness, Energy and Vitality at a bargain price at her website, and while you are there, browse her other books The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment  and DVD Pressure Cooking: A Fresh Look, Delicious Dishes in Minutes. 

This time out, The Veggie Queen has constructed a new framework for thinking about your plant-based selections. You see, CHAMPS is an acronym. Cruciferous Vegetables, Herbs and Spices, Alliums, Mushrooms, Pulses, Seeds and Nuts are the chapters of the book, and if you cook your way round it and eat these foods every day, you will be buttressing your great health with the healthiest foods on Earth.

Jill is a good friend and colleague of mine, so I know very well just how completely she embraces the plant-based life.  Jill is a dynamo of veggie energy, and glows with pure good health. When most cookbooks promise that foods will be fast and convenient, they mean that there will be shortcuts, like using prepared foods. When The Veggie Queen does fast and convenient, it means that she is pressure cooking some whole foods like beans and grains. A fast food meal at Jill’s table is quinoa and kale, not pizza with fake cheese.

She walks her talk because she is the Veggie Queen, and an RD to boot. In CHAMPS, Jill reached out to her many vegan chef colleagues for their best dishes using the ingredients featured in the book, and compiled the contributions of about 40 chefs, authors and veggie aficionados. I contributed a couple of recipes, and am honored to be in the company of so many great champions of the plant based diet. Jill also filled in with her own recipes, too.

A collection of recipes from such a diverse group of contributors could have been all over the place, but I have to say, everybody knows what Jill is about. I know that when I was developing my dishes for the book, I was doing my best to channel what I think of as the “Veggie Queen ethos”.

And what is that ethos? Well, this is vegan “soul food.” Not in the sense that it’s Southern, but it’s the kind of food you want when you are hungry and your body is calling out for something real. It’s flavorful and diverse, hearty and sustaining, and genuinely loaded up with all the plants your body craves. You won’t find Jill constructing vegan cookies out of margarine and white flour, or touting her latest knock-off of a vegan hot dog.

This is vegan as it should be practiced, day to day, living the life, eating and keeping it real. If you eat the CHAMPS way, you won’t have days when you have to count how many vegetables you ate and realize that you didn’t hit that 5-a-day goal. You will meet and exceed all the markers of a great, tasty plant based lifestyle, with plenty of nutrition and variety.

So check out The Veggie Queen and her fun, eminently practical way of getting real foods on the table every single day.

We should all look for those CHAMPS on the plate, and if Jill is any example, find the vitality and health to pursue life.

Buy Nutrition CHAMPS


Hail to the Kale Salad

By Chef AJ

Even people who don’t like kale will go for this salad.


2 large heads curly kale (24 ounces) stemmed and finely slivered

1/2 cup chopped almonds


1 cup raw almond butter

1 cup coconut or regular water

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 cloves garlic

1 inch fresh ginger

2 tablespoons tamari or Braggs’s coconut aminos

4 pitted mdejool dates

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Chop the greens, then make the dressing. For dressing, combine all the ingredients in a high powered blender and process until smooth and creamy.  Pour the dressing over the kale and massage the dressing into the kale with your hands. Sprinkle with almonds before serving. “Like a woman, this only gets better with age.”