Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cheesy Kale Chips

Apparently, kale is the new bacon. 

I can remember when kale was used primarily as a garnish to add a little pop of color to a monochromatic plate of food.  Now kale is EVERYWHERE! Whether it be in the form of a raw kale salad, chopped up and thrown into fritters, juiced with fruit and other green vegetables, or made into crispy, crunchy kale chips, kale is the new "it" food.

I've been on the kale bandwagon for years and am always looking for more ways to incorporate more of it my diet since it's so dang good for you.  I know, I seems like everybody is blogging about kale chips these days, some foodies even going so far to say that this food trend is soooo 2011.

Whatever, I've done it before and I'll do it again because following trends has never been my thang.

Whenever I've made kale chips in the past, I've kept the recipe simple: a little olive oil, some lemon juice, sea salt and maybe a touch of honey to balance out the acidity.  This time around I wanted something with a little more flavor, so after a bit of blog surfing I found a recipe that involved miso, olive oil, garlic, dulse flakes, and nutritional yeast which gives the chips a salty, cheesy flavor. 

Some of you new to the land of hippy food may not know what alot of these ingredients are so let me break it down.

Miso is a thick paste made from fermented soybeans that has a very salty flavor.  It is an enzyme rich food containing probiotics, B vitamins, and all essential amino acids making it a complete protein.  It is most commonly used to make soup, but can be used to make dips, dressings or sauces.

Dulse is a sea vegetable or more precisely, a red seaweed that is is high in protein, fiber, B vitamins and iron.  It has a salty, oceanic flavor and can be used in soups or salads, or ground into flakes and used as a condiment.

Nutritional Yeast is a deactivated yeast that comes in the form of yellow flakes or powder that has a nutty, cheesy flavor.  It can be used to make cheese sauces or sprinkled on popcorn.  It is a good source of B vitamins, especially vitmain B12 and is low in fat, sodium and is free from dairy, sugar and gluten.

I had to resist the temptation to eat the entire batch in one sitting because they do have quite a bit of salt from the miso paste,  but a handful along side a sandwich instead of potato chips is a great way to incorporate greens, B vitamins and protein into your diet.

Cheesy Kale Chips
Slightly adapted from Nourished Kitchen

1 bunch curly kale, destemmed torn into bite sized pieces
1/3 c. mellow white miso paste
1 small clove garlic minced
1/8 t. sea salt
1/3 c. nutritional yeast flakes
2 t. dulse flakes
2 T. extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, combine the miso, garlic, sea salt, nutritional yeast, dulse and olive oil and blend until it turns into a smooth paste.
Working in batches, place kale in a large mixing bowl and massage with the miso mixture so it adheres to the leaves.
Layer the kale on food dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 125 degrees until crispy, about 12 hours.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Paneer and Winter Squash Coconut Curry

It's official.  I'm ready for summer.

Living in upstate New York, I'm looking at another 92 days until I don't have to wear 12 layers just to walk my dogs around the block.

In addition to dealing with freezing temperatures almost every day for the past two weeks, I've had not one but two colds in the past MONTH.  Why? Because I work at a health food store and make juices for other sick people that SHOULD be wearing surgical masks and coughing into their elbows instead of breathing all over me and my already weakened immune system.

On the other hand, winter time does has it advantages, like sledding, bourbon and comfort food.

The thought of eating a salad isn't too appealing this time of the year, so stews, soups and curries have been in high rotation.  Although winter squash is beginning to fade out of season, butternut squash is still available at the markets and I've been using it in everything from pizza to soup to this here coconut curry.

It's creamy, hot, and delicious and will (if only for a split second) make you hate winter just a little bit less.

Paneer and Winter Squash Coconut Curry (serves 2-4)

4 c. peeled, winter squash (I used butternut), cut into 1 inch cubes
6 oz. paneer, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 T. sunflower oil (or any other neutral oil), divided
1 T. coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
3 T. ginger, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. mustard seeds
1/2 t. cumin seed
1/2 t. turmeric
3/4 t. curry powder
1/2 t. sea salt, plus more to taste
1 15 oz. can coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place squash in a bowl and drizzle with 1 1/2 T. of the sunflower oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and spread on a sheetpan. Bake for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 1/2 T. sunflower oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the paneer in a single layer and cook for a couple minutes on each side until very lightly browned. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. 
Using the same skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for a couple minutes, until the seeds start to sizzle.  Add the onion and turmeric and cook until the onion is softened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.  If the mixture starts to stick, add a splash of water and give it a stir.  
Add the coconut milk, sea salt and curry powder and cook until the coconut milk comes to a boil. Add the butternut squash, cover, reduce the heat and let simmer for five minutes.  Stir in the paneer and cilantro and heat through for another minute or so.

Serve hot with rice.