Tag Archives: easy cooking

Easy Kale chips

The word kale used to make me shudder. The way my mother served it when I was a child was to blame. My memory of it was a bitter, boiled, unseasoned soggy mess that pooled discolored water on your dinner plate which floated over and infiltrated the other foods, a further insult to trying gag the vegetable down. It was a LONG time before I went near the stuff again. It’s good I did because kale is nutrient packed (high in fiber, Vitamins A, C and K with lesser amounts of protein, Vitamin B6, calcium, folate, magnesium, copper, potassium and iron) and it does not have to be disgusting!

Kale is a cool-weather annual and tastes best in season. My opinion is that kale grown in warmer weather is more likely to be(come) tough and bitter. It should be a beautiful deep green. If it’s yellowing it’s old.

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I took a kale chip recipe and simplified it. I am ALL for short cuts in cooking. First I wash the kale. I use my salad spinner and break it up into roughly bite-size pieces, tearing off the toughest, thickest stems closest to the bottom. If you want an extra step, you can first put the kale pieces in a mixing bowl but I put them directly onto a large cookie sheet. I add a capful of canola oil, a capful of cider vinegar, a bit of cayenne pepper and a little coarse sea salt and mix them up so that all the kale is coated. Adjust the seasonings to your taste; I love spicy/hot but if that’s not for you, just eliminate the cayenne. I’ve just discovered the easiest way to mix is by hand (it keeps the kale from leaping off the cookie sheet) but a spatula works too.

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I cook the kale in a 400° oven for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times. The goal is crispy but not burnt so it’s important to keep an eye on it. A higher oven temp speeds things along but necessitates more stirring as we aren’t aiming for carcinogenic kale chips.

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Kale clearly has high water content  – see how much it cooks down (and don’t look at my discolored pan)

Now I’m not gonna kid you. These aren’t anything like potato chips but they DO have a delicate, satisfying crunch. Completely different from steamed kale, say. This is now my favorite way to cook kale.

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Isn’t that pretty? And nothing is floating around!

 

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White Bean Tomato Soup

We’re almost out of the major soup season but not quite, and you can eat this soup hot or cold anyway. This blender soup is so quick & easy. Healthy and delicious too.

Here’s our ingredients.
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I used chickpeas but you could use any white bean. I cook my own beans because it’s cheaper and eliminates salt and any added preservatives, but you could substitute canned beans for expediency. I really like “chunky” crushed tomatoes, but regular crushed works too.

The herb is sage. I happened to have some of my own, but store-bought is fine.

Put 2 cups of water in blender.

Add 3 cups rinsed chickpeas (or white beans).

Add 1.5 to 2 cups canned tomatoes. (I used 1.5 cups because that’s what was left in the open can after I made spaghetti for lunch!)

If you, like me, love the kick of lemon juice, add 3 tablespoons lemon juice. If you’re not sure or want a milder flavor, start with 2 tablespoons or less.

Add your sage. I had about 2 teaspoons left so that’s what I used.

Add 1 teaspoon olive oil (it adds a nice flavor touch but can be eliminated to avoid any added calories/fat).

Lastly, I added a bit of freshly ground pepper. I add no salt because the canned tomatoes already have salt (and likely so would canned beans).

Blend! You can heat a cup in the microwave or eat cold.
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Easy Squash & Red Pepper Soup

The rule of thumb for vegetables is that the deepest, richest colors – dark green, deep red, bright orange – are the most nutritious. I used two, squash and red peppers, to make this easy, no-cook, delicious soup.

I only recently discovered that squash is sold frozen, which is great if you don’t have time, space, or inclination to buy and cook your own. Here’s the ingredients I used:
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I used these canned peppers but you could buy fresh ones and cook them too.

I used these canned peppers but you could buy fresh ones and cook them too.

I cut up half an onion and a clove of garlic and sautéed them in a bit of oil.

I cut up half an onion and a clove of garlic and sautéed them in a bit of oil.

I put a cup of water in the blender, added the defrosted squash, 5 rinsed red peppers, and the sauteed onions & garlic, and blended till smooth. I heated a cup of the soup in the microwave to eat. That’s it! So good.

Look how gorgeous that color is.

Look how gorgeous that color is.

A Healthy Microwave Brownie (anyone can make – really!)

Recently I saw a recipe for a microwave brownie on a a blog. It had a lot more sugar & oil than I use in my diet and baking, but it gave me the idea to experiment with making a healthier version that I’d still actually want to eat. If you’re used to typical brownies, this much less sweet version will be an adjustment, but if you’re like me and don’t want or have a lot of sugar or sweets in your diet, this brownie is a treat.

The ingredients are all typically found in the baking aisle of the grocery store:
Whole wheat flour
Canola oil
Cocoa powder
Cinnamon
(Sugar)

It’s not essential to buy the specific brands pictured. I use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa but the regular cocoa is fine too.
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You’ll need a (microwave-safe) small bowl or a cup, and a spoon. I use an oversize mug.
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And a quarter cup water.
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Mix together in the bowl or cup:
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
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Stir in till smooth:
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
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Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
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I like to eat mine right out of the cup, but here’s how it looks on a plate.
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Close-up.
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An even healthier version, pictured below, can be made by omitting the Canola oil and/or cutting back on the cocoa powder to 1 or 2 teaspoons.
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