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The first thing Matthew said to me after his alarm went off Sunday morning was something about a tart he was working on for The Kenwood. Before we even said good morning to each other, we were going back and forth about whether or not he should use a press-in crust instead of a traditional roll-out crust. Half asleep still, I realized our food life is not normal. At all.

Between the two of us, we have every tool and skill to eat amazing, healthy meals at home. I’m a few months from graduating as a Certified Health Coach and Matthew has years of culinary training and experience. You think it’d be easy for us, right?

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I can’t tell you how many times lately we’ve made a frozen pizza for dinner instead of cooking, because it’s just that much easier. Maybe it’s the pregnancy cravings or shifting priorities, but the way we eat at home has gotten off-track.

It’s amazing to me how easy it is to slip into unhealthy habits because so often it’s just easier. What’s more amazing to me, though, is how great just a few healthy meals in a row can make you feel. After a few weeks (okay, months) of eating for convenience, we both felt almost immediately better after stocking our fridge and getting back into cooking at home again. It’s amazing what food can do!

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These collard green cakes were thrown together on a night when we didn’t want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen, but wanted something healthy. The collards were the first greens I had eaten in a while! This is inspired by a dish on The Kenwood’s opening menu that Matthew knew so well he could make with his eyes closed. So maybe we took a shortcut by using a familiar recipe to get back on track instead of creating our own, but it’s all about baby steps, right?

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Collard Green Cakes with Caramelized Cauliflower Quinoa
{gluten-free}

Serves 4-5

1 large onion or 2 small onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
3 big pinches of salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
5 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cups cooked quinoa

2 bunches of collard greens, center ribs removed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs (gluten-free, if desired)
1 egg
2 tablespoons cooking oil

Add two tablespoons of cooking oil to a medium-sized saute pan over medium heat. Sweat the onion and garlic with salt until translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Don’t worry if the onions start to caramelize since you will be caramelizing the cauliflower anyway. Remove the onions and garlic and set aside in a bowl. Add remaining three tablespoons of oil back into the pan over medium-high heat. Next add the cauliflower and let it sear like a piece of meat, meaning don’t move it around much once it hits the hot oil. Cover with a lid to prevent spattering and let it cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes before giving it a good stir. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until all sides of the cauliflower are nicely caramelized. Don’t be afraid to let it get some color! Add cauliflower, onions and garlic to the quinoa and set aside to cool to room temperature.

To make the collard green cakes, blanch the collards for 2-3 minutes in a large pot of heavily salted water. If you’re not sure how much salt the water needs, taste test and make sure that it tastes like the ocean. Remove the collards from the water and shock them in a big bowl of ice water.

When the collards are chilled, squeeze as much water as you can from them. Run a knife through them a few times so they are thoroughly chopped into small pieces, no bigger than your pinkie finger. Toss all remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix very well using your hands.

Use a ring mold to form into cakes, pressing very firmly to ensure that they are packed very tight. If you don’t have ring molds handy, use your hands to shape into tightly packed patties.

Cook in a nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat for approximately 2-3 minutes on each side, or until it is golden brown. Remove them from the pan and set aside on a paper towel to cool.

Serve collard green cakes over quinoa. Matthew likes to have his with a side of Dijon mustard and I love mine with a squeeze of lemon.

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