Eating Healthy Recipes: Ways to Love Leafy Greens

Cooking demo at UMD shows benefits of cooking with kale. Cooking demo at UMD shows benefits of cooking with kale. |  Photo: WDIO

Updated: September 25, 2019 05:14 PM

University of Minnesota-Duluth's Registered Dietician, Amanda Joyce gave the recipes she used in her healthy cooking demonstration to WDIO. Green Up Your Eating: Ways to Love Leafy Greens.


Butternut Squash, Sausage, and Kale Gnocchi


  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb prepared potato gnocchi (mini or regular, find near the pasta)
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 lb package sweet or hot Italian turkey sausage (remove casings)
  • 3-4 cups kale, ribs removed and chopped, (can also purchase prepared baby kale)
  • 3 cloves or 1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • Optional: 1 tsp fresh rosemary or sage, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (50% less sugar)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

How to make it: Roast squash first, this can be done the night before. Preheat oven to 400 degrees  F. Place diced squash on a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil and season with a little salt/pepper if desired. Roast for 25 minutes, or until squash is tender, stirring periodically.  Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook gnocchi per package instructions. Drain and set aside. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Add sausage and cook, crumbling with a spoon until cooked through and browned 5-7 minutes. Stir in kale, garlic, rosemary, and cranberries. Continue to cook, stirring until kale is wilted (about 3-4 minutes.) Add butternut squash and gnocchi and stir to combine. Top with parmesan cheese. (Original recipe)

Pita Pizza with Kale Pesto & Grapes


  • 1 small bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1-2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, or walnuts (can toast for added flavor)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

To make the kale pesto: In a food processor, pulse kale, garlic parmesan cheese, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt and nuts until finely chopped. Add olive oil and process until smooth. Consistency should be thick, yet spreadable.


  • 4 whole grain pita bread rounds
  • 1/2 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1/3 cup blue/gorgonzola cheese crumbles (or use another crumbled or shredded cheese if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Optional: 2 Tbsp honey, for drizzling on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pita on baking sheet and spread with the kale pesto. Top with the grapes, cheese and walnuts. Bake 8-10 minutes, cool slightly, drizzle with honey (if using) and cut the pizza into 4 pieces. Serve immediately.  (Original recipe)

Berry Smoothie


  • 1 handful raw spinach or kale
  • 1/2 cup plain or flavored yogurt (can use Greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup frozen fruit (berries, cherries, and pineapple are great)
  • 1/2-1 cup fresh fruit or one medium piece of fruit
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk (can adjust based on desired consistency)

HOW TO MAKE IT: Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Makes one larger smoothie or two smaller smooties.

You can also experiment with adding 1/2 cup of one other veggie if you like, such as zucchini, cucumber, or carrot. With the carrot in particular, it is good to drink right away as it thickens over time. This is a great way to use up extra fruits and veggies before they spoil. For those that avoid dairy, substitute plant-based milk and yougurt, such as soy or coconut. Soy gives the highest protein content.

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