Winter Salad with Kale, Butternut Squash, and Figs

Balance. Who has it besides yogis? Do yogis even have it? Do I need to go to yoga more? I haven’t been in months…maybe that’s the problem. That and no time for yoga. How do we do this? How do we be adults with careers and marriages and bills, and take care of ourselves in the right ways? It’s exhausting thinking about all of the things that I should be doing. I honestly think that if I didn’t work full-time I just might be able to achieve some of them. Is this a joke? Is someone going to pop out at some point and say, “just kidding! You were right! You can’t do it all. You solved life’s greatest question, and now you will be rewarded with”…a golden ticket? More time? More yoga?

Maybe I should stop asking so many questions. But how do we find out how to do this if we don’t? I don’t even have children yet. Cue the scary music.  I’m seriously terrified with how all that will be possible someday—if I’m lucky enough. I have the most amazingly supportive and loving husband, so that’s good. I have a great family, so that’s good. I’m healthy, so that’s great. But, seriously, is anyone else scared witless about how to do life? Maybe it’s just me, and maybe this November cold that I’m nursing, and the slab leak in the kitchen, is making me a bit too contemplative, and a bit too negative.

Health issues come with not having balance in life. True! Stress makes us sick. True! If we know this, why are many of us still do nothing about it? Eating well is definitely one way that can help us battle the stress our bodies feel every day. But it’s not enough. We need altruism, exercise, mental stimulation, and love to create more happiness and balance within. And time. We need more time to do all the things we love, and would do, if we just had more time. Gaining an hour today helped.

Once I figure out the secret recipe for doing life better, I will certainly let you know. For now, feed your soul with this lovely winter salad; take a walk with a loved one after, and then watch a TED talk together, all while planning how to do the next day better—how to share your passion more effectively with others. That’s as good as it gets for now. And maybe that’s enough.

Winter Salad with Kale, Butternut Squash, and Figs

1 bag organic kale, a little over 4 cups (I use Trader Joe’s), center ribs removed

1 bag cubed butternut squash (Trader Joe’s)

*½ container dried figs (Trader Joe’s) or fresh figs if you can find them, halved.

*1 shallot, sliced thinly

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ cup good balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and pepper

Roasted pumpkin seeds (a few handfuls)


Preheat your oven to 400. On a baking sheet, toss the squash lightly with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping once halfway through. When done, remove from the oven and set aside.

While squash is cooking, put the kale into a large bowl, and drizzle with a good amount of olive oil and the fresh lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, and massage with your hands until softened (it’s quick). Don’t skip this step!

If you are using fresh figs, sear them in a pan with a little olive oil. If you are using dried, you do not need to cook them.

In a small sauce pan, add the balsamic vinegar and, on medium heat, reduce by half. It will form into a syrup. When done, remove from heat and let cool. Don’t let it cook too long, or you won’t have much left!

When ready to assemble, place the squash, figs, and shallot on top of the kale and drizzle with the balsamic syrup. Throw on some pumpkin seeds and toss!

This salad is so good. If you are craving meat in this, you can easily add bacon. I also think it would be great with pan seared steak, cut up.

**If you have IBS or are following a low FODMAP diet, leave out the shallot, and replace the figs with more squash, bacon, or steak.

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