Crunchy Kale Chips

September 1, 2012 § 5 Comments

Last week I ate a gallon ziploc big of kale chips that packed a balsamic vinegar punch.  K-chips with chile/adobo powder are an extremely good idea.  A couple days ago I read an article about chocolate kale chips (I’m not holding my breath on that one).  This three-ingredient version is my favorite.

This recipe has undergone seven trials in the past two weeks; each time, I’ve whittled away at a list of ingredients that was, at one time, double in length.  But as I reduced and tasted, I felt that this simple-dimple blend was just as good as the previous versions touting extra spices and peppery add-ins.  (Okay, with a caveat: If you’re a garlic lover, go ahead and add a few minced cloves to this recipe — it’s terrific.)  But rest assured, this combination below is simple and good, no garlic or spicy-heat necessary.

There are only three things to keep in mind when setting out to bake a batch of crispy kale chips: (1) Make sure the kale leaves are completely dry.  If they’re at all wet, they’ll steam instead of crisp.  (2) Don’t be tempted to pile kale onto the sheet pan. Spread the kale in a single layer and when making a large batch, use two or three sheet pans. (3) Keep a close eye on the chips during the remaining 3-5 minutes of baking.  They crisp-up quickly and can burn easily.

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, stemmed and ripped into large pieces
3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
sea salt, to taste
few teaspoons olive oil

Method: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stem kale leaves and rip into large pieces.  Wash and spin until dry; pile in a large bowl.  Toss with a few teaspoons of olive oil to coat, nutritional yeast and sea salt to taste (be generous).

2. Spread kale leaves in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 15-22 minutes, tossing half way through, until crunchy and slightly golden-brown around the edges.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan

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DIY: Toasted Pepitas

July 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

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Many store-bought, pre-toasted and -salted nuts and seeds are processed and coated with starches to help salt/spices adhere to the nuts/seeds.  If you are steering away from added starches in your diet, or if you simply would like to have more control over the ingredients in the food that you eat, try buying the raw materials and then dressing them up yourself — it’s a resourceful, creative alternative to what’s commonly available in a standard supermarket.

I like to roast/salt/season big batches of nuts and seeds at a time.  They’re wonderfully shelf-stable and then I have them at-the-ready.  Included below is the simplest recipe for roasting pepitas (pumpkin seeds), but feel free to dabble.  You can try roasting them with a little tamari (or soy sauce) or toss them with dill and nutritional yeast.  I enjoy pepitas out-of-hand, a-top mammoth leafy salads, soups and pasta or brown rice dishes.

Ingredients:
raw pepitas
sea salt, to taste
a few teaspoons olive oil
spices, to taste (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a sheet pan, toss pepitas with a little olive oil – just enough to cover all the surfaces.  Sprinkle with salt (and spices) to taste.

2.  Bake for 15 minutes; stop and stir half-way. Cool completely before packaging.

 

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, SCD-safe, nut-free, vegan

Preserving Summer’s Bounty: Dried Tomatoes

June 5, 2012 § 4 Comments

Today is the fifth of June and down in the southwest, we’re harvesting tomatoes in full swing.  In fact, we’ve been popping sweet cherries into our mouths for the last month.  In light of this fact, and given that we have several more months of lycopene-glory ahead, it’s never too early to start preserving these suckers.  Canning recipes are coming, but for now, I thought I’d start with a dehydration recipe.  Don’t worry if you don’t own one of these mammoth electrical appliances.  If you’re eating tomatoes now, your backyard is an oven.

Ingredients:
tomatoes sliced 1/4 – 1/2″ thick (cherries cut in half)
sea salt

Method:

Slice tomatoes in thick slabs and remove seeds.  Arrange evenly on a dehydrator (or mesh screen for outdoor use).  Sprinkle generously with sea salt.  Dehydrate at 135/140 degrees for 10-16 hours (depending on thickness) or until chewy and crinkled.  If dehydrating outside, keep a fine mesh cloth (ie. cheese cloth) over the tomatoes to keep bugs and debris at bay.  When cool, store in an airtight container. Will keep for several months.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan

Creamy Avocado Basil Sauce (think: vegan pesto-fredo)

April 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

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This is a straightforward, easy-peasy recipe that has four ingredients and comes together in a minute flat.  Thanks to the avocado, I like to think of this creamy, vegan shmear as a hybrid pesto and alfredo sauce.

A note about the above photo: South Tucson greenhouses are teaming with ripe, cherry tomatoes and zucchinis.  As the bounty of winter brassicas and greens wanes, I’ve started loading my canvas bags with these (Sonoran) spring fruits and vegetables.  My latest kick?  Zucchini pasta.  That’s right.  I’ve been cranking one of these suckers.  I’ve dabbled with many different “noodle” preparations, but here’s my favorite method that yields flavorful, al dente “noodles”: Saute a half-cup early onion/scallion with a lot of garlic and a generous pinch of salt in a wide-brimmed sauce pan.  Saute until wilted and fragrant (just a minute or two) and add zucchini “noodles.”  Toss until heated through and coated with oil, garlic and onion.  Remove from heat; add sauce; serve warm.

Ingredients:
2 avocado
2 cloves garlic
2 cups basil
juice of a lemon (about 1/4 cup)

Method: 

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until combined.  Add additional lemon juice to thin, if necessary.  Toss with zucchini or grain-pasta and serve immediately.  Leftovers keep two days.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free

Lightly-Spiced Almond Milk

March 16, 2012 § 3 Comments

About a month ago, I came across this video by Sarah Britton, blogger of one of my top three favs: My New Roots.  Since then, I’ve watched this little flic nine more times.  I’ve graduated from a noodle strainer to a cheesecloth to a fine mesh “nut milk” bag.  I’ve drunk a few gallons of nut milks.

Why go to the trouble?  Certainly, there are plenty of health benefits: Nuts are spankin’ healthy. Also, in most packaged almond, rice, oat, hemp and some soy milks there are added ingredients like carrageenan, a thickener (seaweed derivative) that can be rough on sensitive tummies and may have longer-lasting detriments.

These are good reasons to buy a few cups of raw nuts and dust off the blender. But I like making nut milk for two other reasons (the purported health benefits being a mere kick in the pants).  First, making this drink makes me feel delightfully resourceful.  Second, you can make oodles of variations.  I spice each batch differently, depending on my mood.  For instance, if I want a sweet nut milk, I’ll add medjool dates (soaked in water for a half hour to soften) or a tablespoon of honey to the blender.  If I want a plain milk, I won’t add any spices; it’s still creamy, the flavor is more subtle.  Below, I’ve put my favorite combo of late.  I use the leftover nut “pulp” to make cookies like these. I nibble on one or two for an afternoon snack with a cold glass of almond milk.

Ingredients:
1 cup raw almonds
8 medjool dates, pitted
water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, optional

Equipment:
fine mesh bag
blender
air-tight jars for storage

Method:

1. Pour raw almonds into a large glass bowl and cover with water.  Soak for a minimum of 8 hours, up to a day.  A half hour before blending, add dates to soften.  Drain almonds and dates and place in a blender with 4 cups of water and spices, if using.  Blend.

2. Place a fine mesh bag or cheesecloth in a pitcher.  Drain and squeeze the almond pulp.  Reserve pulp for a fun recipe.  Pour almond milk in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, vegan, gluten-free

Cilantro-flecked Chickpea-Quinoa Balls with Tahini-Citrus Dressing

January 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I set forth to make this wrap, I combined a hodgepodge of recipes and aimed to make a falafel-like ball with crunch and Mediterranean flavor.  Instead of relying on dried coriander and cumin to amp up the taste, I wanted to use garden-fresh cilantro and scallion.  I wanted to see what would happen when I incorporated a whole grain into the mix (quinoa) and fresh vegetables (spinach) for nutrients and eye-popping color.

Before supper one night, I happened upon Green Kitchen Stories saffron-falafel recipe.  I liked their idea of using flappy cabbage leaves as a wrap (a pita would be good, too) and tahini as the base for a bright dressing.  I experimented with a few simple four-ingredient tahini dressings. The one below was my favorite.

Ingredients for the Chickpea-Quinoa Balls:
1 cup quinoa, cooked
2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
2 cups spinach, fresh
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup scallion
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon flax meal
4 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoons water (if necessary to thin)

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees on convection (or 400, standard).  In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until pureed.  The mixture should be sticky, but not so sticky that it doesn’t hold a form or stay together.  (In the event that there is too much liquid, add extra brown rice flour, a little bit at a time.  If too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time.)  Scoop into balls, uniform in size, and bake for 20 minutes.  Flip over and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Tahini Sauce
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
generous pinch sea salt, pepper
2 tablespoons water, to thin

Method:
Whisk together and drizzle on top of wrap.

Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan, nut-free

Lemony Tahini “Cheezy” Dressing

January 5, 2012 § 2 Comments

It’s 70 degrees in Tucson and all the windows are open.  Today, the whole fam (plus a cousin!) is at home and we’re noshing on bowls of roasted vegetables, cooked quinoa and drizzles of lemony dressing.  I don’t know how we’re going to make room for the chili and cheesecake dinner finale this evening, but we always manage.

This recipe (inspired by Angela) offers a trifecta of addictive ingredients: winter citrus tang (think: meyer lemon and ruby grapefruit glory), a punch of garlic and thick tahini, which makes for great texture.  It’s ready in about four minutes and is wonderfully versatile: Drizzle it on roasted vegetables, pasta, cooked grains, in a wrap or use as a dip for crudités.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup tahini
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast*
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, pepper

*If following a strict gluten-free diet, seek out nutritional yeast that contains no gluten.

Method: Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.  Refrigerate leftovers; to reconstitute, add water a tablespoon at a time.

Diet Notes: Nut-free, vegan, gluten-free (see asterisk)

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