Crazy for Kale: Two Gluten-Free, Nutritious Recipes for a Rainy Day

DSC_0704  DSC_0706

Slow-cooker Kale Chicken Chili and Schmaltz All-Corn Muffins, Above.

When fall arrives in New Mexico, it brings massive rains and the beginning of colder weather at night.  It’s the type of weather that requires warm, hearty and healthful comfort food that nourishes both body and soul.

Slow-cooker kale chicken chili is filling and vitamin-rich, perfect for a bone-chilling, cold, rainy day.  The aromas that flow through the house as the chili simmers are reason enough to make it.  Plus, it still baffles me that a lovely, balanced meal  can simply be “ready” at the end of the day – slow-cooker, I bow down at your feet!


Above, the ingredients are combined in the slow-cooker and are primed to slowly simmer on their own.  This meal has it’s big boy pants on – it simply takes care of itself.  If only I could say as much about my lively 18-month old!

Schmaltz all-corn muffins are the perfect accompaniment to kale chicken chili.  Something about color and flavor of sweet, bright yellow corn pair perfectly with earthy, deep green kale.   Best of all, these muffins are completely gluten-free.  And, they sport a fabulous texture and bold, bright flavors from the garlic, herbs de Provence, red chili flakes and schmaltz.  Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat; it is full of taste and echoes the profound chicken flavor in the chili.  If you don’t have the rendered fat of chicken or any type of poultry, you could certainly substitute butter; or canola, vegetable or light olive oil.


Above, the batter has been scooped into the muffin cups and is ready to go into the oven.

Both of the recipes in this post are gluten-free.  Throughout the years, I have met many people who are intolerant of gluten.  I have witnessed first-hand how challenging – and painful – living with Celiac disease or being gluten-intolerant is.  So, this post is partially an ode to them, as are all of the gluten-free posts on Curls and Carrots.  In addition, as Americans, we simply eat a lot of wheat.  Using grains in our cooking and baking other than wheat is often beneficial to health – it creates diversity in the diet and in some cases more vitamins, fiber and protein.  A healthy and varied diet in children, in particular, is a great way encourage adventurous palettes, as well as avoid some food intolerances down the line.

I hope that you cook and enjoy the whole-foods based, nutritious recipes below for yourself and your family and friends.



Slow-Cooker Kale Chicken Chili – Gluten-Free

A flexible, healthful and fool-proof recipe


2 pounds free-range, organic chicken tenderloin or chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces

1 large yellow onion, diced

8 large garlic cloves, finely minced

1 medium green bell pepper, diced

1 cup baby carrots, sliced

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 pound frozen Kale, defrosted and drained

1 can black beans, un-drained (salt-free)

1 can kidney beans, un-drained (salt-free)

1, 32-ounce can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, un-drained (low-sodium or salt free)

½ cup roasted green chiles, chopped, fresh or canned*

1 cup free-range, organic chicken stock

2 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh-squeezed

1 packet stevia extract (such as Truvia) or 1 ½ tsp. sugar (or preferred natural sweetener)

Homemade chili-powder (all spices are dried)

A fast and flavorful flavor combination


1 Tbsp each: dried, smoked paprika, cumin and parsley

½ Tbsp (1 ½ tsp) each: dried coriander, garlic, fine salt, black pepper and Baharat**

¼ cup liquid from the cooked chili

2 Tbsp (gluten-free) 100% cornstarch

Ingredients for (optional) toppings:

grated Manchego cheese, chopped green onions, chopped parsley, 0% Greek yogurt


1.) Combine the chicken, onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrots and kale in a large slow-cooker. Toss with one to two Tbsp. olive oil; just enough to lightly coat the chicken and vegetables.  Then, toss the mixture with all of the homemade chili powder.

2.) Add all remaining ingredients:  the beans (un-drained), tomatoes (un-drained), green chiles, lemon juice, stevia or sugar and chicken stock.

3.) Cook the chili on low for eight hours.  Take care to keep slow-cooker covered as much as possible in following steps.  Remove ¼ cup of the liquid from the chili to a small bowl, add two Tbsp. of cornstarch (to the small bowl) and mix well.  Stir the mixture into chili, turn the slow-cooker to high and continue to cook (covered) for twenty minutes more, or until the chili has thickened.  Avoid peaking, if possible, so the slow-cooker retains its heat.  When thickened, taste and re-season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.  Enjoy!

*any mild roasted chili or pepper may be substituted, such as poblanos

**Baharat is a dried, ground Persian spice blend of than usually consists of cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, paprika and black peppercorns.  Feel free to make your own blend, taking care to include the warm spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom), if possible.



Schmaltz All-Corn Muffins (Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free)

Completely flourless and boast a fabulous texture


2 cups instant Polenta from Italy

1 tsp herbs de Provence*

½  tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups unsweetened almond milk minus 2 Tbsp, room temperature

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 large, fresh eggs, room temperature

¼ cup of schmaltz or unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 Tbsp finely minced garlic*

⅛ tsp red pepper flakes, optional


1.) Preheat oven to 375° F or 190° C.  Set oven rack in middle of oven.  Line a twelve-cup muffin tin with twelve muffin cups.  Spray the bottom of each muffin cup with cooking spray.

2.) In a two cup measure or a bowl, mix the almond milk and vinegar (for two cups total liquid).  Allow the mixture to sit for ten minutes, forming “mock buttermilk.”  The mixture may separate; this is normal.

3.) In a large bowl, whisk the polenta, herbs de Provence, salt, pepper, baking powder.  In a medium bowl, whisk the “mock buttermilk,” eggs, schmaltz or butter and garlic.  Incorporate the ingredients from the medium bowl into the large bowl.  Use a spatula to mix just until combined and there are no visible lumps or inconsistencies. Then, scoop batter into muffin cups using a standard ice-cream scoop; this  method results in uniform muffins and thus even  baking.

4.) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean.  Allow pan to cool slightly, then remove muffins from muffin tin to wire rack.  Half muffins and spread warm muffins with your topping of choice , if desired.  They are perfect accompaniment to a warm bowl of chili.  Enjoy!

*either the herbs or garlic may be increased to accommodate taste preference


Like Curls and Carrots on Facebook:

Follow me on Pinterest:

©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.


5 thoughts on “Crazy for Kale: Two Gluten-Free, Nutritious Recipes for a Rainy Day

  1. Thank you so much for the compliment. It tasted great. There is nothing like listening to pouring rain on a cold, desert night and spooning warm chili from a big bowl. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s