kale cobb salad

So this is kind of a weird and personal post and it feels strange to be writing this, but lately I’ve been feeling kind of…

Off.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

My energy levels have been in the toilet and I’ve just felt run down and kind of crumby most of the time. Even blogging, which has always felt like an escape from the stresses and monotony of my life, has begun to feel like a chore.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

After months of denial, I’ve finally had to admit to myself that my weight is probably a major factor in how cruddy I’ve been feeling lately.

I’ve always been a little on the thick side, and haven’t been “beach ready” since I was probably 7 years old. Over the past few years though, I’ve packed on a little extra padding and recently it’s felt…

Uncomfortable.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

When Russell and I first met we were both much slimmer than we are now, though again, far from svelte. When we first started dating I used every trick in the book to woo him, and as you can probably imagine, most of the tricks in my book are food related. Once we moved in with each other and realized we were together for good, we just got comfortable and didn’t really notice as we gained a pound here and another there.

Shortly after we married I started this blog. Especially in the beginning, a lot of the dishes I was making were old family recipes that are near and dear to my heart, but also tend to be pretty heavy. These are dishes that are fine for special occasions, but I was making (and consuming) them much more often than I probably should have been.

As much as I love to cook, my true love has always been baking, so in addition to the heavy family recipes I also started baking even more than I used to. For whatever reason, I also really enjoy photographing the sweets and treats more than the savory dishes, so that was just one more contributing factor in the sudden explosion of cakes and pies and cookies pumping out of my oven. And then, of course, there are the bundts…

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

I mean, not everything I post here is rich, heavy, and unhealthy. I actually think I have done a decent job of coming up with some pretty fun and creative (and delicious) healthy recipes every once in a while, but those recipes tend to be few and far between. That’s also not to say that I’m only eating the food that I post here on the (web) pages of Brooklyn Homemaker. Day to day, I think Russell and I do a pretty good job of trying to eat healthy “whole” foods and plenty of vegetables, but the less exciting recipes in my repertoire (or his) don’t ever show up here.

We really just need to focus on portion control, moderation, and keeping active. I don’t think it’s realistic to think I’ll ever look like an Olympic swimmer or track and field star, but I’m no spring chicken and I definitely need to start considering my health if I want to stick around for a good long time.

For the past week (I know, a whole week, woopty-freaking-doo) I’ve been eating healthy, avoiding carbs where I can, and trying to break myself of the habit of looking for something sweet after dinner every night. Fighting the sugar addiction has been especially hard for me but I’ve been strong so far. I’ve also been walking home from work every day (about a two and a half miles) and I’m in the process of looking for a gym that doesn’t cost a million dollars and isn’t totally disgusting.

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Aaaaanyway…

I’m not writing all this to say that I’m going to stop blogging, or to say that I’m suddenly turning Brooklyn Homemaker into a health food and fitness blog, espousing the health benefits of an all-bean-sprout diet. I’m just writing this to let you know that I’m going to try, just try, to focus a bit more on healthy dishes and a bit less on baking and sweets and the heavy hearty food I was brought up eating.

Honestly, I’m probably writing this more for myself than for you. I think I might be writing this as a way to hold myself accountable for my health. If I write it here, for all the world to see and read, I have to stick with it or I’ll look like a real dummy. A real overweight dummy.

Please don’t be too harsh if I end up failing…
Pretty please?

I’m not really sure how I’m going to go about all this going forward either. I’d really like to tell myself (and you) that I’m going to post super flavorful & creative healthy dishes all the time, and the baked goods and heavy dishes will be the ones to show up only every once in a while. Realistically though, I know I just love to bake, so maybe my “cheat day” recipes will end up showing up here just as often as my “don’t be such a fatty” recipes. I really don’t want to call this a “diet” (ugh). I just want to do what I can to teach myself how to cook, and eat, and blog, a little differently; in a way that will make me feel better and that I can stick to for years to come.
I guess only time will tell. Wish me luck!

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Okay, so let’s finally talk about this salad. I know that a cobb salad is not really the healthiest salad in the world. I promise that I know that adding bacon and blue cheese and eggs to a salad makes it less healthy than if I were to just munch on a bowl of lettuce with lemon juice.

BUT!!!
I’ve made some changes to the classic cobb recipe to try to healthy it up a little bit.

First of all, kale is like the king of all health foods right? It’s packed with vitamins and minerals and fiber and good stuff, and packs a lot more healthy punch than romaine does for sure.
Second, even though I kept the bacon and blue cheese (because it wouldn’t be a cobb without them) I did reduce the proportions of the bad ingredients vs the good ingredients. If you wanted to, you could leave them out, but I do think that they’re worth keeping around for flavor and contrast and to make the salad feel like a truly satisfying meal.
Third, while I did keep the crumbled blue cheese, I opted for an easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette rather than blue cheese dressing to gussy up my fancy pants dark green kale leaves.
Aaand, fourth and finally, I added some sunflower seeds for texture and crunch, and because I love sunflower seeds in a salad okay?

While this version of a cobb is healthier than one you might find in a restaurant, it doesn’t taste at all like “health food” and that’s definitely what I was going for! Here’s to our health!

kale cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette | Brooklyn Homemaker

Kale Cobb Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper to taste

Salad:
1 skinless boneless chicken breast
2 to 3 strips thick cut bacon
1/2 avocado, cut into bite sized cubes
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola or other blue cheese
2 boiled eggs, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 to 4 cups chopped kale leaves

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl or a small jar with a watertight lid. Whisk or shake dressing together until well combined and emulsified. Refrigerate until salad is ready to toss.

Season chicken breast with salt and pepper and sear or grill until cooked through. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing thin or cubing.
Cook bacon over medium to medium high heat until fat is rendered and bacon is brown and crisp. Immediately remove to a paper towel to absorb some of the fat. Once cool, crumble bacon.

Assemble all salad ingredients, including the chicken and bacon, in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the top of salad and toss together using large tongs or salad servers.

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49 comments

  1. I wish you much luck. One strip of bacon would do in your salad, but I think the rest sounds lovely. (Okay, truth is I don’t have a very good opinion of kale. It has no real flavor and is just tough and chewy. But yeah, supposedly it’s good for you…) And YAY for you, walking home from work! Keep at that and more moderate eating, and you won’t need a gym. Best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha! I knew that bacon was going to be controversial if I said I was eating this to be healthy! What can I say, old habits die hard!
      As for the Kale, I’ve actually never really been a fan of cooked kale, but I’ve always liked it in salads with a nice acidic vinaigrette.
      Thanks for the words of encouragement!

      Like

      1. I am a fan of bacon. :) But I also have issues with sodium, so I try to limit how much I have of good stuff like that. If it were me, I’d cook up a half pound of bacon as long as I’m making a mess, and crumble it all, just using a little at a time.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m honestly not sure what kind of kale it was- I bought a pack of pre-cut up “salad” kale. I’ll look for it again in the store and let you know what it says.
      I do sometimes find kale to be dry and bitter in salads, but if the dressing has enough tanginess and acidity the kale is transformed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE THIS POST! :) Beautiful salad! And hey, you can argue that the bacon (especially if it’s an uncured one) is way healthier than excess sugar, and keeps you feeling full longer, etc, etc… I’m excited for your journey and I can use the accountability and healthy reminders and the sweet treats mixed in with the everyday whole foods too! I think I’ll start with this salad this weekend! And for the non-kale lovers – try a lacinato (dino) kale, or other dark green or purple pretty long leafy kale – cut those nasty ribs out and cut the greens into strips. With the right mix of ingredients and a good dressing – you’ll learn to love kale! The plain old curly variety sold chopped in bags with the ribs all chopped up with it is no way to win new kale converts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Traci,
      These are great tips about kale! I really need to start experimenting with different varieties- I just used the bagged stuff for this, but to be honest, once the leaves are dressed, I actually really like the crunch of the (smaller) ribs!

      Like

      1. Your photos are beautiful! I think maybe the bagged stuff is improving along with the popularity of kale and raw kale salads! :) (As an aside – I just made your salt and pepper buttermilk biscuits tonight! I had a huge salad mixed up in the fridge but needed just a little something decadent to go along with it – they were wonderful!)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh man – yet again, parallel lives! I don’t even know what to say to this, it resonates so much!!! I’ve often thought about writing a similar post, but couldn’t figure out how to do it without sounding self-involved and depressed – but you’ve managed to craft something relatable and moving that is neither of the above.

    Our story is very similar to yours: my husband and I fell in love, and were always eating out because I didn’t know how to cook. Then, once I started learning, I of course navigated towards thick casseroles and crock pot dishes full of cheese and cream of mushroom/chicken soup. We both gained weight but didn’t care because we were just happy and in love! Eventually, we realized we needed to get our lives together, but this was about the same time I started the blog; so needless to say, it’s been a constant struggle for all of the reasons you so eloquently expressed in your post!

    I love ice cream and cakes and cookies, but I’m no spring chicken anymore, and as hubby and I start to think about dogs and kids and houses, we want to be healthy and alive and vibrant to experience all of these things!

    I support you 100% and I know you can do this! You’re inspiring me to do the same – it wouldn’t kill me to do frozen yogurt once in a while :) you rock ! Thanks for posting something so honest and real.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! This is so great to hear. While I was writing this I kept wondering how it would be received. There were like three or four moments where I came thiiiiis close to deleting the whole post and just starting over to just talk about how much I love cobb salads and how kale is a healthier option blah blah blah.
      I’m glad I just kept going – I think what I ended up writing is a lot more “real” and relatable than what I would have changed it to.
      I have actually been thinking about trying to make frozen yogurt myself but for right now I’m just trying to stay away from anything sweet for a couple weeks to try to break myself of my very real sugar addiction.
      Thanks for the words of encouragement. I always look forward to your comments! I feel like this is the closets I’ve ever come to having a pen pal! :)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I eat a salad at least once a day (small portions) I have always had a small appetite at one siting so I eat several times a day. I cook big because I have a large family and friends that are always hungry!!! No one is over-weight thankfully! Well…not yet anyway. We swim several times a day, I walk every evening on the beach (at least 2 miles). I chase 5 children day in day out, laundry, cooking, baking, canning, freezing. Can I have a vacay please…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I recall you manage a housewares store so anything in Retail requires lots of standing (ouch). I can see why getting home after a long day (and dealing with the general public) you would want to chill out and just use the remote and no more brain cells! HA! We are lucky to have the beach (back yard) and a swimming pool to use really 11 months a year! Aside from 5 young ones to care for I am kept pretty occupied. It does not pay well in terms of $$ no its a good life though. HA!

        Like

  5. Love the salad Tux, I hear you lately I have just felt terrible too. I also have gained weight and I hate it and need to do something about it. The salad looks substantial enough that it would be satisfying and filling. Best of luck on the life style change (I refuse to use the word diet)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ll get there! It just takes some patience and perseverance.
      I definitely needed to keep some of the bacon and blue cheese and all the rest to make sure this salad would be substantial. Otherwise I’d end up running to a bodega at 10pm for doritos or something! haha!

      Like

  6. GOOD LUCK!!!! I also need to focus on staying active and eating in moderation. It’s just that food is so… just soo…. SO GOOD. And you do a great job of selling it. Awesome work – and may the odds be ever in your favor :)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Moderation in all things! Although to be honest I previously refused to put kale anywhere near my face because I was convinced anything that green and hearty would be horrible to actually consume, and that people who stated that they actually “like kale” were masochists. I recently completely proved myself wrong when a friend convinced me to try her kale salad. Now I love it and can’t get enough! Good for you for getting back in the moderation game.. we’ll be awaiting more excellent recipes from you :)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sounds like you are on the right track. And you are brave putting this out in front of the blogging world. I’ve been following your blog for a while and enjoy it very much – probably most of all this time because you are honest about what is happening. Those of us who have fought this battle over the years understand where you are at and wish you all the success in the world. And your wonderful bundts, pies and cakes can still be a special treat (in moderation). I wish you all success.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good luck! I’ve always been a “thick” girl. I totally get ya. You’re going to do well. Especially if you keep making things like this. This looks great and it’s got a lot going on. Eating healthy sometimes feels boring. But don’t give up baking! Moderation right?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Tux, I don’t know what to say other than you are not alone. I could have written the same post. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life, at my heaviest I was over 200lbs. At my wedding last year, I was probably the lightest I’ve been in 15 years, but that was after MONTHS of 5 day/week workouts and a very strict diet. It suuuuuucked and I still wasn’t 100% happy with how I looked.

    Then I went to pastry school and started baking. A lot. Needless to say, many pounds have been gained since then and I’m not happy about it. But I LOVE to bake, I love baked goodies, and I love to blog. So it’s a constant struggle. Would being skinny make me happier than baking/blogging and enjoying what I do? I sure as hell wouldn’t like working out and dieting. That’s pretty much the worst thing ever. Honestly I wonder if I’ll ever be happy with my body or be able to accept it the way it is. Wouldn’t that be an amazing day!

    Anyhow, I have a point, sorry I rambled. I think it’s all about moderation like you said (which is also hard). Don’t go cold turkey or you won’t be able to sustain it! My husband and I allow ourselves one cheat day per week (usually Saturday) where we indulge a bit (sometimes a lot). And sometimes this spills over into other days depending on when I bake, but we *try* to be good about it. We’re far from perfect. On our non-cheat days we try to watch what we eat (like cutting back carbs) and try to eat balanced meals as much as possible, but I always have something sweet every day, even if it’s just a piece of chocolate (or two). I need my sugar fix! I hate working out, but have started taking yoga classes just last week to see if that’s something I can get into (the jury’s still out on that one).

    I think you’re taking the right steps and just do the best you can. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you indulge a bit more than you planned to, just get back on the wagon the next day. And don’t stop baking if that’s what makes you happy!

    And ummm, is this why I didn’t see a #BundtBakers post from you this month? I was super bummed about that! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Olivia! It seems like we’re on pretty similar paths! It sounds like the way you try to manage would probably work well for me too. I need to have my cheat days or I know I’m not going to make it. There are just too many delicious things in the world to deny myself all the time.
      As for sweets and baking, baking has always been a huge part of my life and it’s probably one of my favorite things in the world. At the moment though, I really believe that I have a serious sugar addiction on my hands and want to do something to turn it around. I’m still eating fruit (LOTS of fruit) but I’m trying to stay away from any sugar sweetened “desserts” for a few weeks to try to train my body not to crave it so often. So far so good, but I know I can’t keep it up forever.
      Anyway- THAT is the reason I didn’t do a bundtbakers post this month. I really wanted to, it’s the first post I’ve missed since joining in May of 2014, buuuut I’ve been trying to avoid sugar for a bit.
      I’ll be back soon though, don’t you worry. I can’t stay away for long!

      Like

  11. That salad looks delicious! It seems like a problem everyone secretly struggles with to different degrees at some point in their lives. There’s nothing so empowering as taking control of your happiness and steering your life towards positivity. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You posted this months ago, but this is how I have been feeling as well…its been a rough year, but eating healthier feels better. Even a week feels like a great gift to your body, however no need to sacrifice good food, there are always healthier substitutions and portion control. All of your recipes use whole foods and ingredients, which I always appreciate :-)
    Actually motivates me to cook and eat “real” food, so thank you :-)

    Liked by 1 person

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