Make your own Kale Chips!

It has been quite awhile since I’ve posted about food! But I just feel called to share this one with you all because they are so, so yummy and easy to do!!! Kale Chips!! I always knew Kale was a good power food, but I have since learned that it is a nutritional powerhouse!

One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients. Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds. Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.

Now are you interested??!! I originally tried kale chips from Heinen’s and while, they were indeed yummy they were a little expensive and I wasn’t sure what exactly was in them. So I found a recipe to make them at home and tried it and now I am hooked!!

Here is how you do it:

Kale Chips
One bunch of kale
1 tablespoon olive oil or just use cooking spray
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
Shake or two of parm chees (optional)
Nutritional information: Makes 6 servings (or one for Lisa!)
Cal: 58
Fat: 2.8g
Carbs: 7.6
Fiber: 1.5
Protein: 2.5
2 points plus for weight watchers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two cookie sheets with cooking spray. Wash and dry the kale on paper towels. Tear the kale up into bite sized pieces and lay on the cookie sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle olive oil over the kale or just use cooking spray if you don’t want to use oil. Sprinkle the kale with seasoned salt. Some suggested soy sauce, but I have not tried that. I added a little bit of parm cheese on top, but that is optional. You could probably use any spice that you like. For example, kicking it up a notch with some red pepper or something might be good.

This is what they look like before going into the oven (sorry for the poorer quality picture here):

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. I have kept them in a little longer at times just to make them more crispy. Keep an eye on them if you have a hot oven so they don’t burn.

This what they looked like finished:

They shrink down quite a bit! I have been known to eat a whole batch in one sitting. I guess I should be thankful my family will not touch one with a 10-ft pole!! Enjoy and get all your leafy greens in!

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

This may just be the best thing I’ve ever heard in terms of instructions on how to eat healthy!!! Okay, so I’m reading this really good book by Micheal Pollan called In Defense of Food. I had already read a short book of his called, Food Rules which was really interesting.

But, this one is all about how the American diet is completely screwed up and how we have taken the focus off of food and onto nutritionalism which, by the way, is totally different than nutrition. He talks about how instead of food we’re consuming “edible foodlike substances”, which are no longer the products of nature, but of food science. I’m reminded of Jamie Oliver’s comments on kid’s jello as “blue blobs of foodlike substances”. Yuck.

Many of these foodlike substances come packaged with health claims that should be our first clue they are anything but healthy. In the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become.

I like this excerpt: “But if real food — the sort of food our great grandmothers would recognize as food — stands in need of defense, from whom does it need defending? From the food industry on one side and nutritional science on the other. Both stand to gain much from widespread confusion about what to eat, a question that for most of human history people have been able to answer without expert help. Yet the professionalization of eating has failed to make Americans healthier. Thirty years of official nutritional advice has only made us sicker and fatter while ruining countless numbers of meals.”

Yikes! That is so true! Why would a human being need instruction or expert help on what to eat??! It does seem ludicrous when you think about it, but we’ve polluted so much of our grocery stores with processed stuff, with claims to “lower cholesterol”, things with “good fats” and “bad fats”. Meanwhile, so much of it does not even resemble the actual food along the produce and meat aisles.

I like this too about the book: “In this book the author says that we can escape the Western diet and, by doing so, most of the chronic diseases that diet causes. We can relearn which foods are healthy, develop simple ways to moderate our appetites, and return eating to its proper context — out of the car and back to the table. He shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.”

Hallelujah! I so agree with this dude. I even think Weight Watchers falls prey to some of this – they even sell some of the processed stuff, albeit they are moving more towards promoting eating more “filling food” and getting away from processed. I’m only at the beginning of this book, but it is great!

My Vegan Lunch

So my colleague is moving to Vegas so we went out for our so-long lunch today. We went to Tommy’s Restaurant in Coventry. I have been there only a few other times and I have always just gotten hummus. It is a very cool atmosphere with very good food. They have a huge variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes, but also meat entrees too. Lots of veggies and different stuff – organic, gluten free, etc. And they are famous for their milkshakes! It is an experience you need to have if you haven’t already!

I got a sampler platter because I couldn’t decide what I wanted. Well, I really wanted hummus and pita, but also wanted to try some things I’ve never had before. Then I found the “Wellson” sampler platter (under appetizers). Here is the description from the menu…
“Sampler platter with 2 falafel balls, mini spinach pie, 1 scoop homos, 1 scoop baba, side of sesame & pita”. I had no idea when I ordered it that it was vegan, but there you go. I enjoyed most of it. It was my first try of falafel balls and spinach pie which were both delish. I loved the hummus (or homos as they spell it), but did not like the baba ghanouj. Good to know! I passed on the milkshake as I am going to Melt tonight (for the first time) and so I knew that would be a bad idea!!! Kinda ironic that I would eat a vegan lunch and then go to melt for dinner on the same day! Not sure what I’ll order, but I know I’ll be bringing half of it home!!

I’ll get back with you on my first Melt experience!

Peach "Cobbler"

I tried a new yummy treat last night and wanted to share…very simple sweet treat perfect for this time of year:

Ingredients:
1 peach
1/4 cup grape nuts cereal
2 heaping teaspoons of fat free cool whip

I sliced and chunked up the peach, leaving the skin on and put it in a microwave safe bowl. Then I sprinkled about 1/4 cup of grape nuts cereal on the peach chunks. I microwaved it for 1 minute on high. Topped it with the cool whip and ate it all gone. So good! Yeah, I like peaches just like Henry, but I prefer then with out the pits!

Best Damn Greek Salad Ever!

Tuesday, May 31
So I was supposed to cross train for 30 minutes today, but unfortunately my allergies got the best of me so I slept terribly. I had a luncheon so no yoga and a meeting tonight so there was just no way of getting it in. Hey, I’m actually okay with it! One day in and I’m already missing workouts! I’m not gonna stress about it…nope.

Instead I’m going to tell you about the best damn Greek salad I’ve ever had. I went out to Hiroshi’s Pub in Beachwood. What made this particular salad the best damn Greek salad ever, you ask? Well, I’m gonna tell ya. It was so good because it came with optional shredded smoked chicken on it rather that an actual chicken breast. Not only was this chicken easier to eat because it was shredded, but it was also tastier than its rubber chicken cousin that can sometimes accompany lesser salads of this type. It was a nice size that had the standard Greek accouterments…onion, cucumber, tomatoes, and feta. But the best part of this salad was the addition of artichokes. Not only were they tasty in the salad, but the little bit of juice from them totally took the place for need of any dressing. This salad had me with the shredded chicken, but sealed the deal with the artichokes. I’ll definitely have this again and probably try it at home!

>Dessert for Breakfast?

>So, I know I’ve blogged about oatmeal before, but I just had to share again. I mean, this is heaven in a bowl. The last time I praised this wonderful bowl of warm goodness I was referring to the old fashioned Quaker oats, which are fantastic themselves. I mean, I have never met a hot cereal I did not like – well, except for Cream of Wheat – yuck. However, then I met steel cut oats. OMG. To die for. I make them the long way – in a pot on the stove for 30 long and lonely minutes, but oh, so worth it! I have read that you can also do them in a crockpot overnight, but I have to admit I’m a skeptic about the overnight crockpot thing. So, I wait my 30 long and lonely minutes until my whole grain goodness is sufficiently wonderful. I then dole it out in 4 1/2 cup-ish portions – one for now and three for later in the week. I have to say I actually prefer it after it has been in the fridge a couple of days. It is chewy, thick and just nummy. Then on a morning like today I take it out, heat it up for 1 minute in the microwave. Stir. Add blueberries – a bunch and heat again for about 20 seconds. Stir. Consume with joy. Today I almost felt guilty eating it for breakfast. Is this blueberry pie?? Nope, just my old oatmeal. SO good. So, did I convince any non-warm-cereal-eaters out there yet? Hey, don’t take my word for it. Pick up a container at Trader Joe’s or Heinen’s this weekend. Oh, and skip the blueberry pie at the bakery!

>A New Discovery

>So I stumbled onto something new today…edamame. No, you did not stutter – it is pronounced…ed-a-ma-may.

Before I go any further, let’s start off with a quiz.
What is edamame?
A. An ancient religion
B. A hip new baby name for 2011
C. A new drink for the holidays
D. None of the above.

If you answered “D”, you are right! Edamame is basically soy beans! I had no idea that you could eat soy as the bean until I found them at Trader Joe’s today. But, I soon found out – yes, yes you can! I was very intrigued so I bought a package of pods and made them for dinner. First I had to look up the cooking instructions so I wouldn’t screw them up. I rinsed them, boiled them in the pods in a pot of boiling water (salted) for about 5 minutes and then cooled them a tad on a cookie sheet. You kind of just pop the bean in your mouth. They have a really good flavor and of course are very good for you. One serving (about a half cup) is 2 points. Lots of fiber and protein!

Anyway, just had to share my new discovery.

>What is your “Wool-eee”?

>As I have blogged in a previous entry I recently read the book, “Keeping the Feast”, by Paula Butturini and was fortunate to enjoy lunch with her yesterday and hear her speak last night. The heart of her book is about how a family heals and deals with mental illness, specifically depression. It is an extremely touching and moving book and I commend Paula for talking so honestly about her husband’s depression and helping to lift the stigma of mental illness in society. That is the deep and tough aspects of the book…but there is another cool aspect of this book, as well. Woven throughout the book are these wonderful memories of Paula’s childhood meals and family traditions growing up in a big Italian family. She included the food stories to give herself and the reader a break from the grim reality of the very challenging times of her life surrounding mental illness.

In particular she describes in detail the voglie, “VOHL-yay” or as Americans would pronounced it “Wool-EEE” that can be described as cravings that her family experienced. While this Italian word can mean anything from wishes, wants and desires to longings, fancies or whims, for Paula this word only meant one thing – deep, impulsive hungers for some seasonal feast. She talks about how everyone has their own person wool-ees and throughout the book she describes various ones she has depending on the season. From asparagus to figs, from spaghetti with clams to the multitude of fresh fruit and vegetables she found at the market in Rome where she lived, she described these cravings for fresh, wholesome non-processed food in her life.

I loved all of this stuff about food and began to think about my own wool-ees. In the past, before I joined Weight Watchers I can definitely say I often had cravings for things with sugar in them…cookies, candy, bakery items, etc. However, through my Weight Watcher’s journey I’ve noticed something remarkable. I don’t have cravings for sweet stuff anymore really. I actually do get these wool-ees for fresh fruits and vegetables. And like Paula, they are seasonal! Some of you who have read my facebook status updates regularly can probably attest to this as I’ve raved about things like spaghetti squash, and butternut squash soup recently. During the summer I was more into berries and peaches.

I actually think I would make a distinction between a craving and a wool-eee. For me a craving is more something that is brain or heart hunger while a wool-eee is more for physical hunger. In other words, if I crave something like a chocolate chip cookie I probably am hungry in my head or heart – it is probably a cognitive or emotional need or craving. But a wool-eee is more of a craving that results from actual physical hunger…for good and nutritious food that the body needs. It is amazing what a wonderful “machine” the body really is. I believe that we are hard-wired with these needs in place to encourage us to eat food that we need to live, work and love healthily and productively. We just need to be able to listen more.

>Butternut Squash Soup

>This is so good I just have to post it. I found this recipe in the paper today (parade section) and had to try it…so glad I did! It is pretty easy – it is just a pain to peel and cut the squash!!

Simplest Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs) – I used two of them
3 slender leeks, white parts only, split lengthwise, washed and cut into 1-inch long pieces
3 cups whole milk
3 cups water
Salt and pepper
Nutmeg to taste

1. Peel the squash. Remove the seeds and string, then cut into 1-2 inch chunks. Toss into a large soup pot. Add the leeks, milk and water; salt generously and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the squash is soft enough to mash when pressed lightly with the back of a spoon.

2. Using a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until it is very smooth. It may be thick. Think to your desired constistency with milk or water. Season to taste with salt pepper, and nutmeg. Reheat if necessary. (This soup is at its best when truly hot).

3. Garnish with chopped roasted hazelnuts or walnuts and top with creme fraiche or cream.

Serves 6. Per serving (without garnish): 180 calories, 32 carbs, 6 g protein, 10 mg cholestorol, 7 g fiber, and 4.5 g fat.

When I made it the servings turned out to be a little more than 1 1/2 cups per servings for 6 servings and 3 points a serving. Yum!

>Black Bean Soup

>Here is a very EASY recipe for black been soup…

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 15-ounce cans of black beans, with liquid
1 cup (half a jar) of your favorite salsa
2 tablespoons lime juice, or the juice of one lime
Plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)

In a medium pot, add the oloive oil and saute the onions until they are soft and translucent. Add cumin and garlic, sauteing for an additional minute. Pour in black beans with their liquid, salsa, and lime juice. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 minutes. When serving the soup, top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream. Serves four. 2 points per serving.