Monday, June 24, 2013

In the Kitchen

This weekend Alex and I spent a good portion of our time in the kitchen. 

We made kale chips- crispy kale leaves seasoned with red pepper, sea salt and garlic. They are AMAZING!. If you love fried leaves, that is. Which I do. 

Tear leaves away from stem into bite sized chunks. Toss fresh dried leaves in olive oil and seasonings of choice. Spread out on baking sheet. I use parchment but you don't have to. Bake at 350 or 375 for about 15-20 minutes. 

They may not look like it, but they are really crispy when they come out. I always buy the dinosaur kale because I like it better for smoothies, but I think you get more crunch if you use the curly kind for this. Either way it's really delicious and much healthier than chips or crackers. 

Make sure the leaves are nice and dry (some moisture is OK), otherwise you'll steam them instead of fry them. If you have a salad spinner that will be perfect, or you can just pat the leaves dry after washing.

Eat them right out of the pan or cool and serve. They'll stay crispy for a while. We don't make a lot at once, maybe one or two pans worth, which is about 1/2 of a bunch of kale, and they are usually gone by the end of the day, but the last batch I made (this one), I was too liberal with the salt so we didn't finish them off. As I was tossing them out on day three I tasted one just to see and it was still crunchy! 

Most weekends I make a fresh batch of almond milk. Almond milk will stay fresh for about 4-5 days after it's made. I've talked about how to make almond milk on here before and there are certainly oodles of tutorials all over the internet on how to do it.

2 cups almonds
2 vanilla beans
5-10 dates
Distilled water

Soak almonds in distilled water overnight or up to a couple days. Discard water.
Add fresh distilled water to blender, about halfway.
Add soaked almonds.
Blend. Blend. Then blend some more. 
Lots of blending.
Add vanilla beans & dates (I imagine you could add these at the end to the strained milk itself and then blend it, leaving them in and not straining these parts out if that's your preference).
More blending.
Use a fine mesh sieve or jelly or milk bag to strain. This part usually needs to be done in batches. It's a bit labor intensive if you use a strainer. Using a milk bag makes it much easier and much less messy. 
Voila! Milk! 

We save the pulp for other recipes like gluten free vegan crackers and energy bars. 

We had some fresh coconut to work with this weekend as well. While a lot of work (IMO) there are so many great uses for them it's worth buying whole coconuts when you can. Since I just made almond milk, I didn't make coconut milk this time. Also, since I had just picked up a new container of coconut oil, I decided not to cold press my own this time, either. I put aside a few chunks to add to our morning smoothies for the next few days, a few for shredding to add to the energy bars I will make this week using some of the almond pulp, and the rest to use in a raw vegan sprouted snack recipe we will make later this week, too. 

I have recently discovered two wonderful healthy alternatives to my favorite potato dishes. 

One, is a baked potato. I luuuv me a baked potato. I like it full of butter and salt and that's it. But, since butter is like a gagillion calories, I started saying good-bye to eating them. Until, on a whim, I threw in some coconut oil, avocados and tomatoes instead. Holy wow!

I don't know why I never thought to do this before. It's sooo good. And
it's all so healthy and good for me. And it's vegan. Bonus, bonus and bonus.

The second thing I discovered was coconut oil fried potatoes. OMG. have you tried this?

No butter or olive oil, just a tablespoon of coconut oil and small cubes of potato, fried for about 20 minutes. Add some sea salt and they are divine. I never thought to fry things with my coconut oil. I mean, not really fry. I used it in cooking for eons as a substitute for other oils lin like stir-fries or coating meat for the grill kind of thing, and in place of butter in baking, but never really for actual frying. I assume most people already know of this, because I am usually late to the game in most instances. But I am so glad I know about it now! 

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