Oh January in Minnesota, how well you succeed in every attempt to dissuade, punish and intimidate all of our healthy new year resolve! You are dark, you are cold, you are dreary.

The only way to survive these cold days and nights without escaping to the tropics is to focus on something wonderful (to eat, in my case). And the best way to beat the pants off of flu and cold germs is to make that something garlicky and wonderful.

Which brings me to kale, garlic, onions, red peppers and sweet potatoes. Prepared and served in a comforting way, these colorful, seasonal foods deliver all of the warmth that is so desperately needed with the nutrition that will help us defy the worst of January weather.

What you have in these five foods is a powerhouse of immune-boosting, nutrient-packing and inflammation-reducing super-goodness. Antioxidents abound in every single vegetable this combo, plus vitamins A, C, K, as well as the minerals calcium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus.

Eat them because they are delicious, naturally sweet and will add to your health. Bake them so that you will feel nourished and warm from the inside. Try them so that you, too, will be able to scoff in the face of January. Or just have something really garlicky and wonderful to eat.

Garlicky Kale-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 2 (with leftovers)

2 medium organic Garnet or Jewel yams (orange flesh sweet potatoes)
1 bunch organic kale, stems discarded and leaves chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, sliced lengthwise into 1/8” strips
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 red pepper, seeded and diced
organic goat cheese or feta, optional for garnish (my favorite is Singing Hills Dairy from Nerstrand, MN)

Heat oven to 400º. Scrub the sweet potatoes, prick several times on all sides with the tines of a fork and place on a metal baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35 minutes or until soft when squeezed in the middle. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, warm a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the oil and the onion and sauté until the onion turns very tender and sweet, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 3 minutes longer, then stir in the chopped kale. Raise the heat to medium and sauté, stirring to toss, for 3-5 minutes or until the kale turns dark green and tender-crisp. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper and remove the pan from the heat.

Slice each roasted sweet potato lengthwise and squeeze apart to open. Mash the flesh of each sweet potato lightly with a fork, lightly drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then stuff with half of the kale mixture. Garnish with fresh parsley and the diced red pepper. Eat immediately, or keep for up to two hours at room temperature of up to two days, refrigerated. To serve prepared dish, return to the oven and bake until warmed through, about 15 minutes (depending on whether or not they were refrigerated). Serve  along with a crisp green salad and a small portion of the protein of your choice.

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