Baked Lemony Kale Chips… A Guilt-Free Pleasure.

baked kale chips, lemon kale chips, kale, healthy, healthy chips, low calorie, salted kale chips, vegan, roasted kale chips, crispy kale chips

Chips are my one vice in life.  I love chips of all forms… tortilla chips,  potato chips, pita chips, corn chips, banana chips.  It can be fried, baked, or air-popped.  Whatever it is, just gimme!  It’s almost a requirement to have a bag of chips with a side of sandwich.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It’s almost a Pavlovian response to want chips with a sandwich.  In my very honest opinion, sandwiches just don’t taste as good without the crunchy texture from the chips.

My most absolute favorite type of chips are the Flamin’ Hot Limon-Flavored Cheetos.  Mmmmmmm.  Those really are the tastiest.  I had a small bag of these each day at work with my sandwich.  However, an hour or two after consuming the Cheetos, I was parched.  And to remedy this, I would drink a few glasses of water, and then I would balloon up from all the sodium!  Check this, one small snack bag of Flamin Hot Cheetos not only contains 330 calories, but it also has 380 mg of sodium.  I knew this.  I would remind myself of how bloated I was, and that I was no longer going to consume it thereafter.  But alas, I found myself the very next day at the cafeteria, purchasing a small snack bag of Flamin’ Hot Limon-Flavored Cheetos.  Such a vicious, addicting cycle.

When I started my diet, I cut out the Cheetos.  For good.  It was difficult, but I succeeded!  Unfortunately, I soon found myself wanting something crunchy with my sandwiches.  Someone at work showed me the way to barbecue-flavored Pop Chips.  I was hooked immediately.  This was my new addiction.  And they were “healthier” than the Cheetos… 120 calories for a small snack bag of Pop Chips with 250 mg of sodium.  It wasn’t the most ideal for my diet, but it was a great substitute that satiated my chips craving.

Well, I recently made a decision to wean myself from the Pop Chips.  I seem to wean myself from a lot of things, but I digress.  I’ve decided to stop consuming Pop Chips because I just don’t need to spend $1.50 per bag each day at work.  I just need to stop eating chips all together if I want to continue succeeding on my diet.  However, I knew I would fail myself, because I’ll always long for something crunchy with my sandwich or wrap.  Fortunately, I knew what was going to be a guilt-free, healthier and cheaper alternative… baked kale chips!

Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch kale, strip out the center core or stalk, tear kale into small pieces, washed and dried
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Whisk together the olive oil, and lemon lemon juice.

Toss in the dry kale and coat them evenly. Arrange the kale in a single layer of the baking tray. Season with sea salt.

Roast the kale for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are crispy. Turn the kale once or twice for even crisping.

Calories per 1 cup of baked kale chips: 60

Roasted Beet, D’Anjou Pear, Mache Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Sleeeeeeeeeeeepy. I can barely focus.  You know what’s worse than not being able to cook and practice food photography?  Restless, sleepless nights.  Ones where you don’t fall asleep at all.  Tossing and turning, keeping yourself entertained with your laptop, iPhone, or TV to pass time.  Trying to lay still to not stir anyone from their dreamy night by counting sheep, but your mind races with thoughts that don’t make sense so you can’t really focus on the sheep.  Wanting to try a hot cup of almond milk to soothe and calm yourself, but it’s too damn cold to get out of bed.

I’ve had a lot of those nights lately.  So what do I do to remedy that?  Prescription sleep pills.  Something I didn’t think I ever needed.  Ever.  I was and still am a light sleeper, but I never had problems falling and staying asleep until the last few years, but it’s only gotten worse.  I used to poke fun at friends who couldn’t sleep without a prescription sleep aid.  Karma sucks.  I finally broke down and asked my nurse practitioner for a prescription sleep aid.  I told myself it was only going to be for when I absolutely needed it… like trying to fall asleep, but after an hour of trying and failing, then I could take the pill.  But then it got to the point where I would anticipate possibly not falling asleep, so I used it as a crutch.

I’ve recently decided to wean myself from the prescription sleep aid, and the result of this is lack of sleep.  I think this is going to be a long, painful process of little to no sleep for a long time while my body adjusts to the change.  It’s very interesting how your body can adapt and change to something easily, but takes a long time to adjust back.

So while I lay sleepless the other night, I came across a recipe calling for roasted beets with a honey roast garlic dressing that looked mouthwatering.  I thought it was going to be a great recipe to adapt with all the red beets that I just purchased from the farmers market.

Roasted Beet, D’Anjou Pear, Mache Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette (adapted from No Recipes)

For roasting:
2 beets
1 head garlic, top cut off

For salad:
2 D’Anjou Pears, sliced into O’s, core ones with seeds, and then slice in half
3 cups of Mache salad
Blue Cheese
Candied Walnuts

For vinaigrette:
3 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon honey
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wrap each beet tightly in foil. I usually like to double wrap mine in foil. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle a little salt onto the garlic bulb, and wrap tightly in foil. Place both the beets and garlic on a baking sheet. Roast garlic for about 30-40 minutes, and beets for about an hour (or once you can poke a knife all the way through).

While the beets and garlic are roasting, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Once cool to handle, peel “skin” off the beets. Slice beets into 1/8-inch slices. Dress the beets with enough vinaigrette to coat in a separate bowl. Do not do this in the same bowl where the vinaigrette was prepared, or else you’ll have a purple dressing. But if that’s okay with you, then by all means, go for it!

To assemble the salad, place three slices of beets on a plate. Place three slices of the pears onto each slice of beet, with the round shape of the pear facing out. Lightly dress the mache lettuce with the vinaigrette, and place a handful on top of the beets and pears. Top with some crumbled blue cheese and candied walnuts. Repeat the same process for three more plates.

Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Ratatouille Bisque with Parmesan Crisps

ratatouille, ratatouille soup, ratatouille bisque, roasted ratatouille, roasted vegetables, vegetables, parmesan crisp

ratatouille, ratatouille soup, ratatouille bisque, roasted ratatouille, roasted vegetables, vegetables, parmesan crisp

I’m losing my mind.  I have been so forgetful lately.  And I feel like it’s only getting worse.  I’ll think of something that I need from the bedroom, walk to the bedroom, and completely forget what I needed in the two seconds it took to walk to the bedroom.  I know the example is a common problem for a lot of people.  However, I seem to be doing this many times during the day, several days a week!  Here’s another example that I have been doing a lot of lately… I go to the grocery store with a huge list of items to purchase, gather all the stuff, place all the items on the belt at the cash register station, and just as I am about to pay I realize that my wallet was left at home!  It wouldn’t be so bad if I went to the grocery store a few blocks away, but the two places I love to shop at is a 15-20 minute drive EACH way.  So what should be a 45 minute endeavor, ends up being an hour and a half grocery store trip from hell!  No bueno. This cuts into my limited cooking time.

Ratatouille Bisque with Parmesan Crisps (adapted from Modern Comfort Food)

For the soup:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into quarters
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 red bell peppers, seeds and pith removed, sliced
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced to large cubes
1 medium-sized zucchini, peeled and diced to large cubes
2 1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes (mix of heirlooms, cherry, vine and plum tomatoes), cut into halves
6 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups of chicken broth
1/4 cup fat-free half and half
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Spread the tomatoes, red bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray.  Use two baking trays to not overcrowd the baking tray with too many vegetables.  I find that when I “crowd” the baking tray, the veggies tend to “steam” rather than roast properly.  Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized.

Remove vegetables from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot. Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, thyme, cayenne, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Remove sprigs of thyme from the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return soup to medium heat, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Garnish with a parmesan crisp.  Forget the crouton.  Do the crisp.

For the parmesan crisps:

2 cups shredded parmesan cheese

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner. Sprinkle four 1/4-cup mounds of parmesan about 2 inches apart onto each prepared baking sheet; slightly flatten with a spoon. Bake until golden-brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool for 30 seconds. Using a thin metal spatula, drape the crisps over a rolling pin until hardened into shape, about 3 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

I’ve Lost that Love and Feeling, and Lebanese Fattoush Salad

lebanese fattoush salad, fattoush salad, pita bread salad, lebanese bread salad, lemon vinaigrette, vegetarian, salad
It’s true.  I’ve lost that love and feeling for my job.  Have you ever wondered why you are in the profession that you are in?  Or have/had feelings of being “stuck” or stagnate?  Not feeling as satisfied and excited about your job as you once did?

Well, I’ve been feeling this way for some time now about my job.  I used to be so passionate about what I do.  I used to wake up in the mornings excited about going to work.  I would be upset when it was 30 minutes until I had to leave because I knew I was going to miss interesting patient cases that I could learn from and assist with.  I was like a dry sponge waiting to expand with knowledge of cases that I had only read about in textbooks.  Work was like my playground for a few years.  I loved the excitement and (organized) chaos in the ED.  I loved the challenges presented to me on a day-to-day basis.  I especially loved the feeling at the end of the day of knowing that I made a positive difference in the patient’s care with other members of the multidisciplinary team.

The thing that attracted me the most to the ED was the chaos and working under extreme pressure in an emergent manner.  Unfortunately, that honeymoon period has been long gone.  The funny thing is that I tend to get bored easily with projects, tasks, work, really just about anything, so the ED was originally a right fit for my personality.  But now I’m bored.  I don’t feel challenged.  I don’t feel like things are as intense and under pressure as they used to be.  I’m getting too comfortable and that scares me.  My mentor once mentioned to me before I finished my residency training, and it was that you open yourself to mistakes at the patient’s expense when you get too comfortable.  It is a critical piece of information that has been engrained into my brain, and it holds much value especially in the medical profession.

But something changed recently.  A patient case that sparked, recharged, rekindled the passion that I once had for my job.  It was a feeling that I had been longing for a very long time. An attending ED physician requested my immediate attention on a little boy who was given a foreign medication to help treat his diarrhea by his grandmother. The little boy was very sick. Foreign medications can be difficult to identify, especially since they do not require the stringent identification codes that are required by the US FDA on OTC and prescription medications. A quick side note, vitamins and herbals do not adhere to the same laws as OTC and prescription medications because these products are NOT regulated by the FDA. Interesting, right? So you could be taking echinacea because that’s what the label says, but one formulation can vastly differ from the next echinacea product because it’s not standardized and/or regulated by the FDA.

Getting back to my story… foreign medications can sometimes be the same thing as a medication prescribed in the US with the same generic name, but different brand name. Majority of the times, foreign medications will differ completely all together from what we have here. luckily, Mom came in with the little boy and was able to tell us the brand name of the pill he was given. She was a very reliable historian, which was a relief, because the patients I see in the ED will have no clue what medications they are on. I was given the task to identify or do what ever I could to find something on what the pill could possibly be. After a few minutes of going through my resources, I found the answer! I was able to identify the pill, AND was able to give a recommendation on how to treat the toxicity. A few minutes after administering the treatment, the little boy was 95% recovered from what he originally came in for. The ED is such a fascinating place to work for because you get to see the positive changes from the treatments initiated right then and there. You get to see how medicine works. That my friend, is why I enjoy doing what I do.

Lebanese Fattoush Salad

3 whole wheat pita pocket breads, cut into strips about 3/4 inch wide
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white onion, minced
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (if you find it is too acidic for your taste, add a little less lemon juice and use red wine or pomegranate vinegar in place)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons powdered or ground Sumac, plus more for sprinkling on individual salads if desired
2 heads Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup diced tomatoes (let drain a minute or two if extra juicy)
1 cup diced cucumber (same size as tomatoes)

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees F.

Mash together the minced garlic with the salt in a mortar and pestle, or on the cutting board, into a paste. Put garlic-salt paste into a small bowl, and add to it the minced onion, lemon juice and sumac. Whisk in the olive oil until the dressing has emulsified.

Cut whole wheat pita into strips about 3/4 inch wide and arrange on baking sheet. Bake until pita strips are crisp but only barely starting to brown, less than 10 minutes. Once the toasted pita breads are cool enough to handle, crumble in medium-sized pieces.

Remove the outer leaves from the romaine lettuce, trim off the stem end, and then wash. Chop lettuce into small pieces. Dry the washed lettuce in a salad spinner. If you don’t have a salad spinner, dry the lettuce leaves with a paper towel before chopping. Put chopped romaine lettuce into salad bowl large enough to toss all the ingredients.

Chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers, and add to the lettuce. Add about half of the dressing and toss. Then add crumbled pita chips and toss again with more dressing. Let the salads sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend, but also so that the pita chips can absorb some of the dressing. To serve, arrange salad on individual plates and sprinkle with a little more sumac.

Healthy Mini (Almost) Egg White Breakfast Frittata

I wanted to surprise my partner with a Valenine’s Day breakfast before she went to work.  Why not a romantic candle-lit dinner?  Well, she was planning to help my parents out at their restaurant for dinner service since it can be one of the busiest nights of the year.  And even though breakfasts are not the most romantic meals of the day, I thought it would be something special to wake up to.  So I perused through the various recipes that I had bookmarked and was specifically looking for something healthy.  Something tasty, filling, but low in calories.  I was super excited when I came across this frittata recipe!

If you’re wondering what a frittata is, it’s an Italian version of the French omelette.  Omelettes traditionally have the egg mixture cooked and folded around a filling, while a frittata just mixes it all up, cooked in a mishmash combination all at once.  It may be baked, or it may be started in a frying pan. When started on a stove top the frittata can be finished in an oven, under a broiler, or it may be flipped and finished in the pan.

So I went to the grocery store at 9:30 p.m. after I finished work on Sunday evening with my list in one hand, and the basket in the other.  Shopping was like a race to the proverbial finish line.  I wanted to make sure my partner wasn’t suspicious of why I was getting home so late.  The real dilemma was trying to get the groceries into the house!  I set the groceries on the counter of the laundry room right as I walked through the house, hoping she didn’t hear the rustling of the shopping bags.  Luckily, she didn’t.  As my partner was getting ready for bed, I slipped to the kitchen to put the groceries away.

I waited, and waited, and waited until my partner finally fell asleep so that I could sneak away to the kitchen to prep the ingredients.  I wanted to ensure the perfect timing of the dish as she finished getting ready for work, but also a little sit down time to eat together.  As I was about to sneak away, my partner sort of woke up from her slumber and asked if I was okay.  I said that everything was okay, and wondered if I was ever going to make it to the kitchen.  She fell asleep, and waited for another five minutes before I thought it was safe.  I was able to sneak out, but our little dog who sleeps with us got out of bed to check on me.  This really made me nervous because he isn’t always quiet, and I just knew he was going to wake her up.  I’m so happy she can be a deep sleeper because she didn’t stir from him at all!  So I started chopping and prepping away.

Well, needless to say, everything went perfectly on Valentine’s Day.  Her alarm sounded off at 6:09 a.m. and as I realized she woke up a little later than I had hoped, I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen to preheat the oven.  The latter is what I was afraid was going to foil my entire plan.  I don’t even know if the oven preheated to the desired temperature, but I popped the muffin into the oven and waited very (in)patiently.  As nervous as I was, the frittatas cooked perfectly and in the right about of time!  Yay!

Mini Egg White Breakfast Frittata

5 egg whites
1 egg with yolk
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup baby spinach
1/3 cup bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup low-fat shredded cheese
2 slices canadian bacon, diced
Olive oil spray such as Pam
Muffin tin

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat egg whites with whole egg.  Fold in baby spinach, cheese, bell pepper, and canadian bacon.  Mix ingredients together.  Add a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper if you’d like.  I omitted the salt since the canadian bacon adds a bit of saltiness to the dish already.

Lightly spray the muffin tin.  Use a measuring cup to pour the egg mixture into the muffin tin, filling each over a little more than half full.  Place muffin tin into pre-heated oven, and bake for 30 minutes.

Makes 3 servings of 2 frittatas each.

Calories per serving: 55 calories

Vegetarian Lavash Wrap with Tofutti and Hummus

I have been on a weight loss kick since August 2010.  I’ve lost about 20 pounds so far and still have about 10-15 more pounds to lose.  It’s been difficult.  Actually, that’s an understatement.  It’s been REALLY difficult, especially because I love to eat… and all I want to ever do is eat.  I also loved to not do anything but sit on the couch and watch endless amounts of Food Network, HGTV, the Travel Channel (only if it about food), and the Bravo channel.  My life was very sedentary and FULL-filling.  I went to the gym one day in August, got on the scale, and almost had a heart attack.  I realized I was at my heaviest, which made complete sense, because my “fat clothes” were starting to become a little snug on me.  So it finally occurred to me that I needed to lose some weight or else I was putting myself at serious risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.  All of which runs in my family.  Eek!

So here I am, twenty pounds lighter, and still going.  I’ve really cut down my portion sizes, and eating a lot healthier than I used to.  I’ve also reduced buying out for lunch by about 90% while at work, which I feel has helped me significantly! In fact, packing my lunch and dinner (I work 12 hour shifts) has forced me to get creative with making healthier, yet enjoyable recipes.  I’ve experimented with many different kinds of salads for lunch.  Unfortunately, I was as creative as I was getting, I started to get bored with salads.  So my new obsession is the veggie wrap that I came up with recently.

Just in case you’re wondering, I still occasionally enjoy my favorite foods.  Moderation is the key to success.  Who ever said you had to completely cut out all those unhealthy foods was wrong!  If that were true, I would have failed my diet by now.

Vegetarian lavash wrap with Tofutti and Hummus

2 whole wheat lavash
1 small yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 roma tomato, seeded, thinly sliced
2 medium-sized artichoke hearts (in water), chopped or sliced
1 small carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1/2 avocado, sliced
Baby lettuce mix (or whatever you have on hand)
4 tablespoons Tofutti cream cheese
4 tablespoons of your favorite hummus

Spread 2 tablespoons of toffuti and hummus onto the middle of the lavash.  Top each lavash with thinly sliced bell peppers, sliced tomatoes, artichoke hearts, carrots, 1/4 of the sliced avocado, and a little lettuce mix.  Roll each of them up tightly and cut in half on a diagonal.

Makes 2 servings.

Orange, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

I’ve been on a salad kick for the last few months because I enjoy eating them for lunch, but also because I’m watching my calorie intake to lose weight.  I’ve been addicted to my blue cheese, cranberries, and candied walnut salad for the last few weeks.  Actually, maybe even longer.  Although I haven’t gotten tired of eating it YET, I feel like I am heading in that direction very soon.  So I’ve been on the look out for new salads to mix things up a bit.  Unfortunately, my salad recipe index is very limited as making salads and wanting to eat them is a whole new adventure for me.  If you haven’t read my previous posts, I was anti-vegetables for the majority of my life.  I wanted meat and starch, and the occasional vegetable, if kimchee and pickled spicy radishes can fall into that category.  I always thought salads were a waste of stomach space, when it could rather be filled with other delicious non-vegetable foods.  Like I said before, I ate very unhealthy foods and was completely sedentary; that is, until I met my partner.

My second time visiting her (aka, our second date) in Oakland, I was greeted with a “detox salad.”  I had just finished a busy work week with lunches that consisted of either McDonald’s or Taco Bell, and she was horrified by how I ate.  So she made this salad for dinner with crusty bread.  No meat?!  I was initially disappointed, but once I delved into the salad I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it.  With a few pieces of buttered bread and a plate of salad, I was surprisingly full and felt refreshed.  And that was the beginning of my departure from just meat and starch to an enjoyment and crave for vegetables, albeit it took some time to get to this place.  But who’s keeping track anyways, right?

I came across a recipe that called for orange slices, thinly sliced fennel, and a salad topped with pomegranate seeds that immediately called for my attention.  We love oranges, we’re always looking for things that use fennel (again, limited fennel recipe index), and recipes that call for pomegranate seeds (not just to make POM juice)… so this was perfect!  We made this for our small dinner party, and the salad was a huge success.  The mixture of flavors really compliment one another.  In fact, this may just be my new favorite salad.  Yay!

Orange, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad (adapted from Good Life Eats)

Your favorite spring salad mix
2 medium oranges
1 carton of fresh pomegranate seeds (available at Whole Foods, or one whole pomegranate with seeds removed)
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Honey or agave syrup

Combine the vinegar, juice, oil, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.  Add honey or agave syrup to sweeten the dressing just a little bit.  Whisk all the ingredients together and set aside.  Add a little more extra virgin olive oil if you’d like, and conversely, decrease the amount of orange juice.  We like our dressing on the citrus-y, but on the light oily side.

Remove the peel and pith from the orange by cutting the top and bottom off, and the outside perimeter of the orange.  Cut the orange into into rounds.

Prepare salad on individual serving plates.  Arrange the salad with the lettuce, fennel slices, orange, and topped with pomegranate seeds.  Pour the dressing over the salad and enjoy!

Serving size: 2 individual salads

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,496 other followers