Tag Archives: snacks

kale chips

The Ubiquitous Kale Chip

There’s a nice restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland called “The Ubiquitous Chip.” Or at least there was when I lived there in 1996. I had no idea what “ubiquitous” meant before I ate there, but I looked it up and it’s been a regular part of my vocabulary ever since.  Such a great word! I mean, it just feels good in your mouth, you know? Ubickwituuuuuussss.

Ubiquitous – adj (yü-ˈbi-kwə-təs) – seeming to be seen everywhere

So, the restaurant name referred to the fact that chippy (or french fry, to us Americans) shops are found EVERYWHERE in Britain, but this restaurant was something different.

When I thought about doing a post about my experience with trying kale chips, of course “The Ubiquitous Kale Chip” is the immediate and only title that came to mind – because, like British chippy shops they are everywhere. If life was a B rated horror movie they’d be some sort of alien plan to infiltrate the world, they’re that common. Do a simple Google search for “kale chips” and you get 7,800,000 hits. Seven MILLION!

So, yeah. This post is not exactly earth shattering innovation or anything. You can find this just about anywhere. But this blog isn’t intended to be about innovative culinary discoveries, but a resource of food ideas for people trying to figure out how to eat on diets like this, so I figured it would be good to include it.

First, let me say that I don’t really like vegetables. With the exception of Sauteed Asparagus I mostly simply tolerate vegetables because I know they’re good for me, rather than that I actually enjoy eating them. So I didn’t really have high hopes for kale chips.

But since I kept reading about them, and since I’d gotten an enormous bunch of kale from my CSA, I decided to try.

The verdict: Kale chips are very edible and enjoyable…when they’re cooked right! Added bonus: My kids LOVED them. Like, scarfed-them-down-and-couldn’t-stop loved them.

They are not an exact replacement for potato chips. But they have a nice saltiness and kind of fall apart in a melty way in your mouth that I find somewhat addictive. However…if you overcook them even a little they’re very bitter, and if you undercook them they’re chewy and very kale-ish! As I mentioned above, my kids were going to town on these things…until they got to some overcooked ones and they immediately ran to the trash and spit them out!

So, cooking time with these is very important. They make all the difference between, “Hey, I actually kind of like these!” and “These are disgusting and gross!”

No one wants disgusting and gross. So watch your time!

For the one or two people out there who might have never heard how to make these things, this is the process.

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sweet and salty maple popcorn

Sweet and Salty Maple Popcorn

I got a surprise gift from one of my cousins in the mail this Christmas: a cookbook of popcorn!! As a result, this recipe became the Food of Christmas this year. As soon as I saw this one in the cookbook, I knew I was going to make it. It called for sugar, but I knew that was an easy fix and I could make it work for me. And I did! I made massive amounts of this stuff. MASSIVE. I made a huge container to bring to our church’s children’s program Christmas party. I made some for all of my husband’s coworkers. I made baggies of it for neighbors and family members. We were drowning in it.

Yet, somehow, we never did get tired of it! That’s how yummy it is. It’s subtly sweet and salty – just slightly sweeter than Kettle Corn, but not as sweet as caramel corn. It’s buttery and maplely from the maple syrup. It’s addicting. Everyone who got this said that it didn’t last long. One of my husband’s coworkers said that it didn’t even make it home because once she tried it she couldn’t stop and ate all of it in the car!!

So, yeah. This is good stuff. However, it does have sweetener in it, so as always with my sweet stuff, if you’re particularly ill or experiencing symptoms of inflammation, be careful. If you’re maintaining or in good health, though, this is just fine because it uses all whole-food sweeteners!

And it’s dead easy.

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Morning Glory Muffins

Morning Glory Muffins

A few weeks ago, I went on a church women’s retreat at the Jersey shore. If you think this sounds like a nice quiet time with sweet calm ladies…you’ve never been on a church women’s retreat before. Women get CRAZY when they’re on these things!

And they eat tons of junk food.

So, in self defense against the piles of cookies and brownies and candy that I knew would be there, just taunting me with their easy accessibility, I made these muffins to bring along. I knew they were a) delicious, b) something I could eat besides the piles of junk food I knew would be there, and c) something others would enjoy too. They’re naturally sweet with shredded apples and dates, and satiating with the fats from almond flour and coconut oil. They’re also really nutritious because of all of those things plus shredded carrots! So I made a triple batch and packed them up, putting a note on the container explaining that they were grain/gluten/dairy/sugar free (with just a tiny bit of honey) for those who would care about that. I knew there would be others there who couldn’t eat gluten, and that they would be glad to know these were safe.

If you ever wanted to know what happens when you put a note like that on a container of perfectly good muffins, I’ll tell you: It sends people running for the hills. Seriously. I witnessed people reading that note and scrunching up their noses as though they were confronted with a tub of grubs or something. Some people even physically recoiled! I overheard one woman say, “Are those supposed to be healthy or something? Anything that’s healthy can NOT be good!” The other women laughed appreciably and emerged with fist fulls of brownies instead.

Isn’t that so sad? It’s horrible that we’ve been conditioned to believe that healthy food tastes bad, and that we can’t both be satisfied with tasty goodies AND be nice to our bodies at the same time!

I blame the low-fat craze. (Really. It’s all their fault.)

The few gluten intolerant people there loved them though. LOVED them. Because they are, in fact, delicious. And so they talked about them to other people (who looked at them like they were crazy) and said, “No, really! You need to try them, they’re great!”

And so, one by one, people started to try them out. And one by one people were astounded that – yes! – these healthy things actually tasted good! Wonder of wonders!

By the end of the second day the entire triple batch was gone. Every single one.

(But the woman I overheard saying that healthy food can never be good? She never did try one and stuck to the cookies and brownies. I guess you can’t win them all!)

I have no idea why these are named Morning Glory Muffins. I didn’t make it up. This is a recipe that anyone in the Paleo crowd will be very familiar with, as they seem to be something of a darling in the Paleo world. There are probably a hundred different variations on the recipe. I took a couple and combined elements I liked from each of them to make the ones that got so eagerly gobbled (after the initial reluctance) on the retreat.

There’s a lot of shredding that happens in this recipe. Because of that, it really helps if you have a food processor so that you don’t have to do all of it by hand. But you could do it by hand if you wanted. You needed the workout anyway, right?

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Buckwheat PB Krispies

Buckwheat Peanut Butter Krispies

Way back in the beginning of this whole thing, back when I was just starting to try to figure out how to live this diet and was flirting with lots of different flours and grains, I got a huge bag of buckwheat groats from the bulk bins at Whole foods. I think I had some sort of idea of putting the groats in my blender and turning it into flour. Because a $30 Oster blender can TOTALLY do that. Yeah.

So, this huge bag of groats has been sitting in my freezer for months, just waiting for me to figure out what to do with them.

Well…I figured it out.

These babies are so good. They are – as the name says – perfectly crispy and crunchy. It’s the first thing everyone says when they have one, and I think it’s what makes them so good. There’s this creamy, sweet peanut butter surrounding all that crispy goodness, and then – as though that wasn’t enough – they’re topped with a thin layer of dark chocolate.

Oh, yeah.

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Choco-Almond Snack Bites

Choco-Almond Snack Bites

I found these delightful things over at Kitchen Stewardship. They satisfy that urge for something a little sweet and are full of flavor and nutrition, and – even better! – they’re also full of inflammation fighting ingredients! They’re similar to a chewy, nutty granola bar, and with the optional thin layer of dark chocolate on top they transform into an indulgent-feeling treat! There is coconut in the recipe, which adds to the sweetness, but if you don’t like coconut, don’t worry: I don’t find that it makes it taste much like coconut at all.

These have been a HUGE hit with my daughter. She’s delighted that I let her eat pretty much all she wants, and thinks that they taste “like frozen cookie dough!” (We keep them in the freezer.) That’s good endorsement!

The first time I made these I followed the recipe exactly as it was, but then I started to switch things around (of course…I can never just leave a recipe alone.) The biggest change was to add dates so that I could reduce the amount of sweetener and make it more anti-inflammatory, but this is really the kind of recipe that can have infinite variations. You can throw in all sorts of things, and I have a lot of ideas to try that should keep things interesting for a while!

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Awesome Butter Infused Popcorn

So, what does an inflammation-fighting, real-food-eating person do when she wants a crunchy, salty snack? Most chips are cooked in unhealthy (and illegal on this diet) vegetable oils, so they’re out. Pretzels are made with white flour. So what to do? The answer – in our house, at least – is popcorn. Huge bowls full of popcorn!

But not that gross, toxic microwave stuff full of partially hydrogenated oils, diacetyl, Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, potassium chloride, “natural” flavors (whatever that means), and artificial flavors. Yuck.

No, I’m talking awesome, flavorful, stovetop popped popcorn that will knock your socks off! You may be someone who thinks that microwave popcorn is the bomb, but I’m hoping that this post will convince you that there is an alternative to that which is infinitely tastier – not to mention healthier – and that you’ll love it so much you’ll never look back!

The thing that’s so great about the way I do popcorn? The butter and salt are infused directly into the popcorn kernels during popping. We used to use an air popper and then melt butter to pour over top, but that resulted in soggy, greasy popcorn. The way we do it now makes light, airy, crisp popcorn with tons of flavor.

The other secret? Coconut oil. This is the stuff that movie theater popcorn used to be popped in (though they’re increasingly pre-popped in hydrogenated oils and stored or popped in canola oil now…boo!) It’s what always gave theater popcorn that distinctive flavor, though, and is smells divine!

Hungry yet?

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Roasted Garlic Hummus

I always thought I didn’t like hummus. It’s this stuff that everyone seems to love, and I really wanted to love it too, but…meh. It just didn’t do anything for me. The only way I could get it down is if I rewarded myself with a gulp of root beer for every bite I took, and, really, that’s rather defeating the purpose.

But then our local CSA visited my son’s school and made hummus with them, and sent the recipe home with the kids. My son was raving – RAVING – about this hummus and how awesome it was, so I of course had to make it. Anytime my kids are that crazy about something that’s actually healthy, I have to make it for them!

And – surprise! – guess what? I love hummus! It was fan-tas-tic!!! I never knew hummus could actually be that good, so I suppose that this is the difference between something made in your home with fresh ingredients and something that’s been sitting in the grocery store for who-knows-how-long!

The thing that really makes this hummus superb (in my opinion) is the entire head of garlic that’s been roasted in the oven until it’s soft and buttery and sweet and creamy. Oh, my, roasted garlic is just heaven. And, if I’d had chives on hand, I would have thrown them in too – I definitely will next time! I think this is the kind of thing you can change up as you want with adding different things in.

I whipped this up today with the kids, and for lunch we had heaps of hummus with carrots and cucumbers, plus left-over roasted chicken and sliced strawberries. It was a feast!!!

So, if you think you hate hummus too – or if you like hummus, but have never made your own – you have to try this out. If even I love this then, really, everybody will!

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