Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kale chips (oven or dehydrator)

     I know most people are thinking- Kale chips sound absolutely disgusting; and I would've agreed with you two months ago, but after going through my cleanse I realized that most of the things I snack on either have a lot of sugar, a lot of dairy or a lot of gluten. Three things that I'm supposed to be minimizing.
"Cheesy" Kale Chips
     A few months ago while still on the cleanse my boyfriend and I were going to the movies. I'm sorry but I am one of those people who can't sit through a movie without popcorn or smuggling in candy so the idea of sitting through a movie while he munched on popcorn sounded miserable. There was a Trader Joe's close to the theater so we stopped in and I grabbed a pack of freeze-dried raspberries and a bag of walnuts and a bag of "cheesy" kale chips. I say "cheesy" because they're vegan and actually have no cheese whatsoever but they are SO good. Every time I go to the movies now I either sneak that in or else a trail mix of freeze dried fruit and walnuts. May sound weird, but don't knock it til you try it. I will warn you though Kale chips are something that take a while to get used to. The first one you'll be like "ew no" but then you'll find yourself grabbing another and soon you'll have finished the entire bag and are trying to stuff it in between your couch cushions before anyone notices (maybe that's just me). They have some flavors I haven't tried yet like chocolate (ehhh..), BBQ and Ranch but I've tried the Chipotle and the Cheesy and those are my favorites (although don't except them to taste like a Cheetoh, they taste cheesy but they don't taste like cheese but if you're dairy free like me you take what you can get and honestly dairy isn't really good for anyone). There's also original which is good but its kind of bland. My favorite brand of kale chips is in whole foods and is called Kale Krunch although as you can see this stuff will cost you 6$ a bag and will only last you about one sitting (again that could just be me).
     I quickly realized that my love for Kale chips was going to be an expensive one however I decided I needed to find some way to make them at home because of all the health benefits of kale (and honestly what better way to eat healthy- it's like a vitamin disguised as a potato chip, kinda). So after searching around I purchased a 30$ dehydrator on Amazon and got to work making homemade kale chips. This has been one of the best purchases I've ever made. However if you're afraid to commit, you can try a batch of these in the oven (I'll explain how below), but if it doesn't work out don't blame me. Also these ingredients and the amount is flexible. Try what you want and taste it along the way but keep in mind the dehydrator enhances certain flavors (the lemon juice) so it may take a little experimenting to get them the way you want.

Ingredients for Crispy Kale Chips
  • 1 bunch of Kale
  • 2 teaspoon Chili Powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • Optional: a little bit of cayenne pepper if you want them spicy
Ingredients for "Cheesy" Kale Chips
  • 1 bunch of Kale
  • 1 medium red pepper (chopped up without seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 cup of cashews (soaked for a few hours)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon of agave nectar (Agave is a great sugar substitute if you haven't heard of it) 
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
kale leaves drying on paper towels
  1. Pull small chunks (about 2 inches) of the kale leaves from the stalks and put in a bowl of water; do not use the stalks as they can taste bitter
  2. Swirl Kale leaves around in water until they have been rinsed off then if you have a salad spinner use this to dry them (I don't so I put them in a strainer for a few minutes then laid them out on paper towels and patted them dry with more paper towels) 
  3. Put Kale leaves back into a bowl and add seasonings (if you are making Cheesy Kale chips put all ingredients in a food processor (starting with the cashews then adding the rest) before pouring over the Kale leaves in the bowl. ***if you do not have a food processor, you CAN use a blender but it will be a little tedious- I put in 1/3 of my cashews added a little water then turned on the blender, added more cashews more water, etc etc, then I added even more water and added the red pepper, this turned out alright because the dehydrator took the water out of it anyways but I wouldn't suggest it if you're doing your kale chips in the oven. ***
  4. Using your hands gently "massage" the seasonings into the kale leaves for a couple minutes making sure they're distributed pretty evenly and all the kale leaves are saturated
  5. Crispy Kale chips in dehydrator
  6. Taste test and add more or less of seasonings accordingly
  7. For the dehydrator- lay kale leaves out on dehydrator trays being careful not to overcrowd or overlap (they won't completely dehydrate). My dehydrator doesn't have a temperature setting so I just turned it on and they were done in about 4 hours but you can use the texture as a guide.  The chips should be crunchy and crispy and if you used the cheesy recipe the coating should be completely dry.  If your dehydrator does have a temperature setting I have read that 118 degrees for 6 hours is best.
  8. For the oven- Place parchment paper over a baking sheet and set oven to the lowest setting (somewhere around 180 degrees). Place kale chips on baking sheet. This will make more than one batch so cover and store remaining mixture in fridge. Cook kale chips for 2-4 hours, flipping them halfway through cooking time. Check to make sure they are crispy and crunchy and coating is completely dry. 
  9. Storage- store extra kale chips in a tupperware container for up to one week in a cool, dry place (cabinet/pantry). To help keep out moisture place uncooked rice in a paper towel and close off the top with a rubber band (making a kind of rice bundle) and place in the tupperware with the chips to absorb excess moisture
Finished Cheesy Kale chips!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Crock pot Vegetable Stock

This is one of the best ideas I've ever heard of. Thanks to Frantically Simple. Vegetable stock in the store can be expensive so this is an easy way to save money and waste less. Plus it's really easy! I made about a gallon of vegetable stock with this recipe.

Basically put a gallon bag in your freezer and every time you chop veggies, add the unused parts to the bag (make sure it's nothing rotten or bad, but a little "over ripe" is fine). For example: onion skins, carrot peels, celery leaves, garlic skins, green bean ends.
Things to avoid: strong veggies like broccoli and brussel sprouts, an excess of onion and garlic skins

If you want to make your own chicken stock in a Crock Pot, this is a recipe (Chicken Stock)  I found that looks delicious and easy as well.

When your gallon bag is filled follow the steps below:
  1. Pour the contents of your bag into your crockpot
  2. Add any herbs you would like (I used parsley and thyme as well as fresh basil)
  3. Some people say the best broth has an equal ratio of carrots, celery and onions so if you need more of something just chop it up and add it as well.
  4. Add water to the crockpot until it is covering the frozen vegetables
  5. Cook on low for 12 hours. (veggies should be pale, limp, lifeless, and pathetic; you get the point)
  6. Pour the contents of the crock pot into a strainer placed over a bowl
  7. Take the veggies that are left in the strainer and put them in a clean dish towel, then squeeze the juice out of the veggies using the dishtowel as a strainer (this part was really fun but make sure your broth has cooled or else it's impossible and really hot)
  8. Vegetable stock can be stored in the fridge (for a week) or in the freezer until you need it. 
After I made my vegetable stock I made lentil soup using the crockpot. Here's a good easy recipe that turned out REALLY good. Vegetarian Lentil Soup. I cooked it on high for 4-5 hours instead and I also used fresh tomatoes instead (that's all I had) and just peeled them and got rid of the middle part with the seeds and it turned out good.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Detox Cleanse

     If you read my last post, you will know I recently found out I have a milk allergy that has been causing a lot of problems in my body including a bacterial infection (another doctor said the bacteria caused the milk allergy but chicken or egg- the fact remains, I accidentally beat the crap out of my body with a combination of cheese, milk and cookies, and froyo...oops) Anyways my doctor suggested I do a cleanse to "reset my body" and essentially I'm trying to get rid of the bacterial infection naturally and without antibiotics which some people believe can cause more problems than they fix. Here are the fast facts of this cleanse:
  1. I get to eat actual food (no cayenne lemonade or grapefruit cabbage diets here) 
  2. It lasts 4-6 weeks
  3. It's about detox NOT weight loss so if you want to follow in the footsteps of your favorite model or celebrity by doing a cleanse- you should probably look up the cayenne lemonade. Although you will lose weight, that is not the goal of this cleanse.
  4. The only supplement for this cleanse can be bought at Wholefoods
  5. This cleanse is good for almost anyone but especially people who have stomach issues, food allergies, weak immune systems or alot of fatigue
  6. I read a lot about cleansing before I did this and most people talk about it being a spiritual journey and feeling more energized and in touch with themselves. That is great for them. I won't lie- I am not one of those people. The only thing I wanted to be in touch with was a Steak N' Shake cheeseburger.
fridge full of veggies, fruit and juice
Here are the things you'll need for this cleanse:
  • Lots of fresh fruit and veggies (except Oranges/Grapefruits- too acidic)
  • 100% fruit juices (except orange juice)
  • Supplement: True Vitality (comes in chocolate or vanilla. the chocolate one is disgusting)
  • Olive oil
  • Organic chicken breasts or salmon 
  • Lots of lemons
Here's a basic breakdown of what you can and can't have. If you have questions feel free to contact me it can get confusing. 
  • Things you can't have: any grains (including rice, corn and other gluten-free grains) any milk products or substitutes (including coconut milk, almond milk, etc),  processed foods or things with preservatives, most seasonings and sauces (more on this later), any type of meat other than organic chicken or salmon, eggs, soy, peanuts, dried fruit (they add sugar), canned vegetables and fruit (again because of salt and sugar content) caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, tobacco and any other drugs (including advil etc)
  • Things you can have: fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts (except peanuts), organic chicken breasts and salmon, herbal tea, 100% fruit juices, about 2tbs of salt a day, about 2tbs of balsamic vinegar a day, olive oil, herbs, frozen fruit and vegetables (as long as there is no sugar or sauces etc added)
 I know, I know. That's a lot to handle but here's a basic how to and I'll follow it up with some tips.
  1. Breakfast- Shake (fruit and 1 scoop of powder with half a lemon squeezed in)
  2. Lunch- Shake (fruit and vegetables and 1 scoop of powder with half a lemon squeezed in), small salad
  3. Dinner- 6oz of salmon or chicken and vegetables
  4. SNACKS: fruit and vegetables throughout the day
  5. WATER: you should drink half your body's weight in ounces every day (ex: you weigh 100lbs, drink 50 oz of water a day) 

  • At first all I could focus on was what I couldn't have and going in to the grocery store was a nightmare because I felt like I literally couldn't eat anything. So eventually I started sticking to the produce aisle and got creative and it became much easier. You have to have a lot of willpower to stick to a cleanse, especially for four weeks but it gets easier.
  • The second week is the hardest. I felt so drained of energy, and I kept doing stupid things and forgetting stuff. All I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and sleep. Again, it will pass. Sleep if you need to! (and if you're lucky enough to not have things to do) 
  • Warm baths help. I don't know why, they just do. Baths help in any situation really.
  • I got sick a few days after I started my cleanse and although it was SO hard to not take nyquil I just doubled up on Vitamin C and managed to get through it. It really wasn't that bad.
  • You will cook a lot more than you ever realized and it's fun. Look up vegan recipes and things and you will get really creative with food. 
  • Going out to eat is hard. I only did it a few times and I'd make sure that the restaurants had something on the menu I could eat like chicken or salmon and then once I got there I'd be "that girl" and tell them I needed it plain with a side of veggies. 
  • You're going to cheat, but try not to, and if you do don't beat yourself up about it. I felt so guilty when I put honey in my tea but as my mom pointed out - If cheating means putting honey in your tea, you're still a lot better off than all those people eating Big Macs and Twinkies. 
  • Don't cleanse during the holidays. I did and it was ok until I went home and the cookies and cakes, and hot chocolate, and ham etc etc. It makes you depressed haha don't do it. 
  • If you managed to get off the sugar and you no longer have cravings for it, stay off. I cheated over Christmas and had a sugar cookie and started craving sugar all over again. Same thing with coffee. Don't cheat with those kinds of things because it makes it 100 times harder to go back to the cleanse.
  • Whole foods will be your savior. Even if you don't buy your food there, if you just have to get out of the house for a meal go to whole foods for lunch. Their food bar is so good and they list all the ingredients clearly so you can steer clear of things you shouldn't have and they always have some kind of kale salad which you get bonus points for because it's a "super food"
  • Avoid temptation if possible. Try not to eat out a ton, don't go drinking with friends because not only will you not be able to have alcohol, you won't even be able to have the late night pizza afterwards.
More tips on WHAT to eat:
I'm a snack person and at first I was so angry because I couldn't grab a bag of potato chips or a cookie but here are some snacks that made eating a little more enjoyable.
  • Freeze dried fruit. This became my savior. As long as it doesn't have anything added (which most don't) it's fine to eat! On multiple occasions I sneaked a bag of freeze dried raspberries into the movie theater along with a bag of walnuts. If you eat them together it's kind of like eating M&M's and popcorn haha.
  • Salad dressing: balsamic and olive oil (light on the balsamic)
  • Rice substitute: cauliflower, pulse a few times in a blender or food processor then fry it with veggies like fried rice (but remember no soy sauce- so you have to get creative)
  • Honey has lots of sugar so agave nectar works well in herbal tea or just a lot of lemon to give it flavor
  • HUMMUS with your veggies. Guacamole as well. Try to make your own or buy the ones in the deli section of the grocery store so that you can make sure 100 things are added to them
  • Kale chips! So good! They were also a good snack as long as you make sure you get the kind that again doesn't have much added except herbs for seasoning. 
  • I was given a vegetable steamer as a present a few months ago and it was awesome. I would just put my veggies in there set the timer to 15 minutes and cook my chicken.
  • Experiment with herbs and different ways to cook the chicken. Chicken breast can get really boring but cooking it with onion and garlic help a lot. 
  • Beans! These are a really good way to get more protein into your diet if you are feeling too depleted to function. 
  • Late night snack- cabbage and onions, little olive oil in a frying pan. Burn them a little if you're aching for flavor. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Don't burn them too much though, basically the more a vegetable is cooked, the more nutrients you lose. (not to mention the carcinogens
Last but not least- If I can do this, you can do it. I cleansed over Christmas. The second week, which I had been warned will be the hardest, I was on set and if you've never been on a film set it is snack heaven. The craft service table has every type of candy, soda, coffee, puff pastries, potato chips, etc etc and my favorite crafty, Kim, makes chocolate chip cookies and passes them out! It was torture, but I resisted. Chocolate chip cookies happen to be my second favorite thing in the world. My dog is first. You get my point. I also had to wake up at 4:30 a.m without coffee for 4 days in a row. It was rough-but again I did it, and it has actually paid off. I'm 96% sure that I no longer have a bacterial infection and it seems that I have gotten rid of most of my other problems (though it's still too soon to say it out loud I don't want to jinx it). I was moody, I was pale, I was skinny (not the attractive kind) and at some point my mother threatened to stuff a steak down my throat if I didn't start looking healthier, but I can honestly say it was worth it and you're probably rolling your eyes right now and saying "that REALLY doesn't sound worth it" but it is! I now have a greater appreciation for food (you know actual food, the type that doesn't come in a box with 8 types of preservatives). I feel healthier and again I'm 98% sure that I actually am healthier and more than anything I'm really proud of myself for actually doing it. Obviously now that the cleanse is done, I'm going to start eating more normally but I think I'm going to stick with being dairy and gluten free. It's just healthier. I'm also going to try to limit my sugar and eat more vegetables. I picked up this awesome book the other day called Crazy Sexy Kitchen. It's vegan recipes but I plan on adding meat here and there, but the author also talks about ways to shop healthy cheap, healthy substitutes for things like sugar and flour etc, and the science behind all of it. The author also wrote a book called Crazy Sexy Cancer that my mom read when she had cancer that helped her a lot (she didn't get sick from her chemo once). 

Anyways! Sorry this one got long as well, my blog is now going to go back to simple recipes, but since the past month has been pretty life changing and it has to do with food I couldn't help but post it all here :) Please let me know if you decide to do the cleanse so I can cheer for you! :)