Back to Basics: Homemade Organic Kale Chips

Kale chips are a delicious anytime snack and healthy alternative to junk food & store bought chips. 

It took me a long time of hearing about Kale Chips before I actually took the plunge and made my own.  A leafy green as a chip?  It just didn’t make much sense to me, but I knew it was definitely a healthy snack… and for that reason alone, I wanted to try it.

So I did!  And here’s how:

First, grab a bunch of organic kale:

Wash the kale thoroughly.  Dirt is usually trapped within the leaves/close to stem, so make sure you remove all of the dirt.  Then, rip or cut the leaves from the stem.  After you wash the leaves, it is important to thoroughly dry them! — spin in a salad spinner and pat dry with paper towels.  If you don’t have a salad spinner, toss the leaves and dry well with paper towels.  Your kale should be mostly dry/as dry as you can get it.  If it’s wet, it will not become crispy like it should when you bake it.

After your kale is washed and dried, toss kale with approx 2 tablespoons of olive oil (depending on how much kale you’re using…use your own judgement. You don’t want your leaves to be saturated with oil, just lightly coated).

*somewhere in here, preheat oven to 350 degrees*

Sprinkle salt over leaves to taste.  Don’t go crazy with the salt!  Once the kale bakes, it will shrink and the salt will be more concentrated. You can always add more at the end).  Toss leaves.

Next, cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread leaves in a single layer.  It is best to not allow leaves to overlap.  You’ll probably end up using multiple baking sheets, depending on how much kale was used.

Finally, put the kale in preheated oven for approx. 12 minutes (at 350 degrees, although you can get the same results by playing around with different times & temperatures).  I usually bake let it go for about 8 minutes, then flip the leaves and finish up baking for another 4 minutes.  The leaves should be crisp and dried out.

The kale will be shriveled and darker, as pictured above.  Watch the leaves closely while in the oven and don’t let them burn!

Done!!  Seal in a large, ziplock bag.

Making Homemade Kale Chips is soo easy and literally takes about 15-20 minutes in total.  DO IT!



Back to Basics: Homemade Granola Bars (Recipe #2)

This weeks Back to Basics post is a homemade, no-bake granola bar recipe.  I’ve previously posted a homemade granola bar recipe here, along with a short explanation on why it’s important to make your own rather than continue to eat store bought granola bars.  Also, it’s important to remember to soak and dry all of your ingredients beforehand (I mentioned how I do this at the end of my previous granola bar recipe post).  I always soak my ingredients in large batches so that I can have already soaked ingredients on hand for whenever I need to make another batch of granola bars (we need to have a constant supply of granola bars at all times in our house). 

I decided to post a new granola bar recipe for this week’s post since I’ve been making different kinds of granola bars, and this one has become one of our favorites:

INGREDIENTS:

2.5 cups rolled oats  (soaked & dried)

1.5 cups nuts and/or seeds (I used equal amounts of sunflower & pumpkin seeds - soaked & dried)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup raisins

6 tablespoons salted butter (organic, grass-fed!)

1/2 cup sugar (I use Sucanat or Rapadura)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons honey (I use raw honey)

2 tablespoon molasses

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix oats, raisins, coconut, and nuts/seeds in large bowl.

2. Heat butter, sugar, cinnamon, honey and molasses in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is heated evenly (slightly bubbling)  and all ingredients are well incorporated.

3. Remove from heat and stir into oat mixture until evenly coated with large spoon. press and fold until all dry ingredients are covered in liquid mixture.  Mixture will be sticky, keep folding ingredients until everything is moist.  Let sit just until cool enough to handle

4. In the meantime, line a 9×11 (or 7x11) inch pan with plastic wrap/wax paper. Spoon mixture into pan, pressing down with spoon to compact. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm granola. Remove from pan, peel away plastic wrap/wax paper and slice into bars. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or wax paper, if desired.

I store mine in the refrigerator, but these can be stored at room temperature as well.  As you can see from the picture above, I choose to wrap this batch in small plastic sandwich bags for convenience since we use them as snacks on the go.

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***NOTE:  FUTURE BACK TO BASICS POSTS WILL BE ON SUNDAYS, STARTING THIS UPCOMING WEEK!!  I WILL TEST SUNDAYS OUT FOR THE TIME BEING, BUT MOST LIKELY WILL STICK WITH SUNDAYS.  I WILL MAKE A NOTE OF ANY CHANGES, IF FOR SOME REASON I DECIDE TO CHANGE THE DAY AGAIN IN THE FUTURE (UNLIKELY).  I will post a reminder about this again when I make a post tomorrow (the day of my Tumblr anniversary!) ***



BACK TO BASICS:  HOW TO PROPERLY PREPARE GRAINS

Whole grains can be very beneficial to our health since they are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. However, improperly prepared grains can do more harm than good.  In all whole grains there are enzyme inhibitors (anti-nutrients) that inhibit the ability to properly absorb and digest all of the vitamins and minerals that they would otherwise provide.  Therefore, if your grains are not properly prepared before you cook with them and/or eat them, they will interfere with digestion AND block the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the digestive tract.

Over the years, our society has become lazy and completely disregarded the traditional way grains used to be prepared —and now skips that preparation step all together.  Nowadays, mostly because most of us are uneducated on this issue, grains (more often than not) are not prepared properly for maximum digestibility.  Traditional societies soak, or ferment their grains to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors in grains, which essentially pre-digests the grains so that all of the nutrients within the grain are fully available and capable of being absorbed.  This is what we should be doing to prepare grains in our homes as well.

Overtime, consuming too many grains that have not been properly prepared can lead to more serious digestive issues

As a warning: Modern store-bought breads/commercial breads are most likely not properly prepared, unless you know what to look for/what kind of bread to buy, and are reading the ingredients list. (more on this in the video posted above)

To learn how easy it is to properly prepare the grains you eat ate home (and maybe on a daily basis), watch this short video of Sarah, from thehealthyhomeeconomist.com, as she explains how to properly soak rice (prior to cooking), oatmeal, pancake batter, beans, and what to look for when buying store-bought breads.