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!
Check out this graphic by NaturalNews.com which shows a great & simplified comparison of Raw vs. Pasteurized milk
Back to Basics: The Organic Milk Deception
Organic milk (from a grocery store) may not be what you think it is. It really makes me sad to see people at grocery stores spending double the price of regular, pasteurized milk, because they think they are doing good for themselves by buying “organic” milk. See, the problem is that organic milk brands such as Horizon and Organic Valley ultra-pasteurize their organic milk, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. (NOTE: Organic Valley DOES sell organic milk that is traditionally pasteurized, & not ultra-pasteurized, but I’ve noticed most stores only stock the ultra-pasteurized variety. Look out for that and if it’s ultra-pasteurized, don’t buy it. At least I wouldn’t…what a waste of money.)
"Organic" milk can easily win a consumer over by the USDA Organic stamp alone. But those won over simply by the idea of organic, ultra-pasteurized milk probably don’t completely understand the process of ultra-pasteurization, what it does, and how. Here’s the breakdown:
The cows are hormone, anti-biotic, and steroid free. (This is, obviously, a good thing, and is better than the antibiotic and hormone laced milk we get from conventional store bought milk). However, ultra-pasteurized organic milk is pasteurized even more than the regular, non-organic milk (which doesn’t make any sense to me!). — The milk is heated beyond what it needs to be heated to in order to sell regular, pasteurized milk (hence the name, ULTRA-pasteurized). The organic milk is heated to a temperature of 280 degrees (F), in comparison to regular pasteurization temperature of about 161 degrees (F). The high temp pasteurization kills so much of the natural nutrients & enzymes in the milk itself that the milk you end up drinking is completely dead and nutrition-less. The milk is so dead that the ultra-pasteurized milk sold by these brands does not even need to be refrigerated. They have an extended shelf life, and can remain unrefrigerated for up to 6 months — ever see those little individual cartons of Horizon or Organic Valley milk that are sold on the shelves/in the aisles of grocery stores rather than in the refrigerated section? Yep, that’s why. And the 1/2 gallons and gallons of ultra-pasteurized organic milk that is sold in the refrigerated section is only to appease the minds of consumers, and to have the product be sold where the other milk products are sold — not everyone feels comfortable buying milk that hasn’t been refrigerated…and rightfully so.
Additionally, milk proteins are very fragile, and high heat such as the heat ultra-pasteurized milk is subjected to, damages milk proteins so badly that our bodies can no longer properly digest or recognize that protein. Because our bodies enzymes can only properly digest undamaged milk proteins, the milk proteins end up undigested and often leak into the bloodstream. (Since practically all of us who have had been eating a modern day diet have some form of what is called “leaky gut”. - find out more about how this works in the answer segment here). When the proteins enter the bloodstream, your body creates an immune response since it cannot recognize those proteins. The immune response your body creates turns out as the many symptoms of auto immune disorders, including: allergies, asthma, fatigue, eczema, infections, headaches, etc. The immune response your body creates can possibly, overtime, create dairy allergies and intolerances.
But of course, regular pasteurized, hormone and antibiotic filled, store bought milk from confined cows isn’t healthy either. So what’s the best option?
Raw Milk fresh from a farm! Raw milk is the most nutritious milk you can get (talk about getting your money’s worth…), and It’s really not much more ($) than the ultra-pasteurized organic milk you may have been buying already…really! It may even be around the same price depending on where you live. There are most likely farm co-ops that deliver to your area, or even to your door, so seek one out (no excuses)! If farm fresh raw milk is absolutely not an option (maybe your not as lucky as I am to have local farm co-op’s deliver when the nearest farm is way too far), shop for low pasteurized, organic milk! It DOES exist, but you’ll have to go out of your way to find it. It most likely also has to come directly from a local farm, but check your local Whole Foods. Whole Foods stocks local products, so that may be your best bet if you can’t find it at a farmers market. If I run out of raw milk, I either go without, or buy Natural By Nature organic, grass-fed (grass-fed is also an important factor of any dairy product!…more on this another time), low-pasteurized milk . And it’s local too!
Ok, so this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t actually think about the concept of how grocery stores are laid out.
The fact is, the easiest way to eliminate processed foods from your life is to not buy it! Even if you feel that you cannot afford organic or farm fresh food, shopping along the perimeter of a grocery store is the most efficient way to avoid buying processed junk and pre-packaged meals. Cook from scratch whenever possible, and shop from fresh/real food departments only.
This rule applies even when shopping at a “natural” food store. For instance, even when I’m shopping at Whole Foods, I make sure to stay mostly on the perimeter of the store. The inner isles of a store like Whole Foods are filled mostly with organic junk — processed and packaged foods that are labeled and marketed as “organic” or “all natural”, but are still bad for your health if you actually look into the ingredients. Because of this, my Whole Foods shopping trip usually consists of stopping at the following areas: produce, meat, seafood, nuts/oats/grains (bulk bins), frozen bread (only for the frozen sprouted bread and bagels), & dairy. Occasionally I’ll shop in the isles, but only when I know what I need, and I make sure to go straight to get what I want & get out. The only times I’ll shop in the isles are if I need cooking oils, spices/herbs (including salt/pepper), sugar, or canned tuna (wild caught and BPA free cans!). And that’s pretty much it. Everything else I try to avoid buying whenever possible.
These simple rules are seriously what keeps me eating mostly high quality/fresh foods only, and helps to eliminate the processed junk that I used to eat so much of.
Back to Basics: Healthy Homemade Ketchup
Have you ever read the ingredients list on the back of your store bought ketchup bottle? High fructose corn syrup is often one of the main ingredients (yuck!)
Ever since we finished using our favorite store bought ketchup, I decided to no longer buy ketchup, and that the ketchup we use in our house would only be homemade. Of course, there’s always the all natural, organic ketchup that can be purchased at Whole Foods in case of condiment emergency. But organic store bought ketchup, even in it’s “all natural” state, is still not as healthy as homemade lacto-fermented ketchup.
So here is a healthy, all natural, organic, enzyme & probiotic filled (via lacto-fermentation) recipe. This recipe is SO simple, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making ketchup yourself all along (at least I did!)
3 cups organic tomato paste (I used 4 cans of 6oz Muir Glen organic cans — in the future I will most likely use Bionaturae brand since they come in glass jars instead of cans)
1/4 cup liquid whey (homemade only…click the link to learn how to make your own).
1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
2-3 organic black peppercorns (crushed)
1 Tbs sea salt
3 cloves organic garlic, mashed
1/2 cup fish sauce (try to only use fish sauce that has only anchovies and salt as the listed ingredients…I tried to find it, but the only one I could get at the time also had sugar. Next time I will go to an Asian supermarket since they have a vast selection of fish sauce, but for now, I used Thai Kitchen - which has anchovies, salt, and sugar)
Combine all ingredients and mix on low with a hand mixer (you could also just whisk this mixture together yourself, but I prefer the hand mixer to make sure everything is mixed well). Pour into a 1 quart jar or container. Make sure there is approx 1 inch at the top of the jar/container to allow for expansion during fermentation. Leave the jar/container out on the kitchen counter for 2 days to ferment, then store in the refrigerator. Mark the container with the date to keep track of how long you’ve had it for. Will keep for up to 6 months.
I adapted this recipe from Sarah, at The Healthy Home Economist, who adapted recipe from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon Morell.
**NOTE: After the new year (my anniversary with Tumblr), I will most likely be moving Back to Basic posts to SUNDAYS! It will be “Back to Basics Sundays” instead of “Back to Basics Fridays”. I will post this note again before the change is made for sure.
Back to Basics: How to Make (Liquid) Whey
Liquid whey is much different from whey protein (in powdered form), which is derived from whey and is often used as a supplement by many health enthusiasts. Powdered whey, however, is denatured and often toxic, and contains MSG (although it will not be listed on the label, since the MSG is a byproduct of the manufacturing process and is not added). Whey protein is extremely delicate and should not be subject to heat processes such as those used to make whey protein powder in order to separate the protein from it’s food source.
Liquid whey cannot be store bought (it can only be “homemade”), and is filled with good fats, vitamins, minerals, and healthy probiotics. This real, live whey promotes a healthy gut by protecting it from pathogens, and helps aid digestion. It can also benefit those with gut dysbiosis (which is the underlying cause of many auto-immune diseases) by helping to re-balance the good bacteria in the gut in order to promote healing.
Now, onto how to make Liquid Whey!
You will need:
1. Raw Milk (directly from a reputable farm, this milk must be grass-fed and unpasteurized) -or- if raw milk is not an option, organic yogurt will do, but you will not get as much whey out of it as you would with raw milk.
2. Cheesecloth or a clean, thin dishtowel (tea towel)
3. A bowl
Step 1: Allow raw milk to clabber. To do this, allow the milk to sit on your kitchen counter for 1-4 days, depending on how long you’ve had your milk for at this point. The milk solids will begin to separate from the liquids and you will be left with curds & whey. Curds = the solid, clumps, and whey is the liquid that is left. (Sidenote: You absolutely cannot do this with pasteurized milk!! Do not try it, the milk will just go bad!)
Step 2: Spread cheesecloth or tea towel over a bowl and pour the clabbered raw milk over the cheesecloth/towel. This will strain the liquid from the solids.
Step 3: Gather the excess cheesecloth/towel to lift up the cheesecloth out of the bowl — use a rubber band to tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and use the rubber band to tie the cheesecloth (now filled with the milk solids) to a kitchen cabinet handle, or secure it any other way that you can in order to suspend it so that it is hanging over the bowl.
Step 4: Allow this to hang there for a few hours, with the bowl underneath, until the liquid is completely strained form the solids, and the cheesecloth is no longer dripping.
Step 5: The liquid you have in the bowl is your whey! Pour the liquid whey into a jar/container and keep it in the refrigerator. This will last for about 6 months. The strained solids that you have in the cheesecloth are now homemade, real, cream cheese and can be sweetened naturally with maple syrup and/or fruit (mixed together in a food processor) and can be used as you would store bought cream cheese, for up to about 2 weeks.
I’ve used this liquid whey for a few different real food recipes thus far and intend on using it for many more! I wanted to post this basic post today so that when I post recipes in future Back to Basics posts, you can have this to refer to when I mention liquid whey as one of the ingredients.
Whey can be used in many homemade recipes to add probiotics to things including homemade condiments (will cover in future Back to Basics posts), smoothies, to lacto-ferment fruits and vegetables, and even to make ricotta cheese.
Back to Basics: On a Quest to Eating Traditionally…
I’ve previously posted an introduction to my new venture in life: eating traditionally (video included). Today’s Back to Basics post is in regards to some of the changes that I’ve made so far in my quest for a healthier lifestyle. Most of the changes I’ve made are small things here & there, removing some ingredients used & replacing them with healthier, less processed & unrefined choices. All of these things are simple steps to take in order to begin traditional eating. Most importantly, remember: Any positive change (big or small) is better than none at all.
Here are some of the things I switched out over time:
- Conventional fruit & vegetables to organic. As much as possible.
- Pasteurized milk to raw (unpasteurized) milk. Raw milk must be grass-fed/fresh from a farm.
- Anything white to anything in it’s whole (unrefined/less processed) form. This includes white flour -> whole wheat flour, white rice -> whole grain rice, white bread -> whole grain bread, white sugar -> sucanat/or other natural sweeteners. (I did switch to Sugar in the Raw before I realized even that wasn’t sugar in it’s purest form…just marketing at it’s finest).
- Conventional, store bought (factory farmed) dairy to grass-fed/pastured only dairy. Including: Eggs, Butter, and Cream.
- Store bought (factory farmed) meats & eggs to local/farm meats & eggs.
- Prepackaged/processed snacks/foods to made from scratch foods.
- Vegetable Oils (rancid) to healthy oils. Corn, canola, & soy oils are oils that I never buy, no longer cook with, & always look for in the ingredients lists of any packaged foods that I might still buy (such as bread, mayo, ketchup, salad dressings — If/when I don’t make my own). These oils are replaced with coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil.
- Regular/processed Apple Cider Vinegar to Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.
- Regular/processed honey to raw honey.
- Table salt (iodized) to Sea Salt.
- Improperly prepared grains to traditionally (properly) prepared grains. With anything I make from scratch with grains, I make sure to properly prepare the grains first. I’ve also been switching from regular whole grain store bought breads & bagels -> only traditionally prepared (sprouted) whole grain breads & bagels.
- Store bought items with High Fructose Corn Syrup to items with only natural sugars. This includes pantry items that have High Fructose Corn Syrup as a main ingredient, such as: Jelly (Grape) -> natural/organic grape jelly.
- Pam cooking/baking sprays (oil in a can) to oil in a Misto oil sprayer. The mistro sprayer allows you to use any oil that you want, without the use of toxic chemicals and propellants in the can.
- Canned vegetables to fresh or frozen (organic).
Items I added to the pantry & shopping lists that I never used to use before:
- Grade B Maple Syrup (not grade A!)
- Fermented Cod liver oil
- Butter oil
- Liquid Whey (homemade only)
- Arrowroot powder
- 100% Cacao (REAL cocoa)
- Molasses (Blackstrap)
- Fine & coarse sea salt (including pink Himalayan sea salt)
- Aloe Vera juice/liquid
- Fish sauce
- Coconut oil (organic, extra-virgin, unrefined)
- Rapadura/Sucanat (whole cane sugar - unrefined/unbleached)
- Raw honey
- Raw apple cider vinegar
That’s all I can think of for now! Hopefully this helps give some insight on how I have been transitioning to more traditional eating habits.
For the upcoming weeks Back to Basics posts, I will go into detail of how some of these ingredients can be used and why they are important to have in your pantry/diet. I will also post recipes in the future, as well as products that I’ve invested in & how I made the switch from using less processed/packaged foods and condiments, and more homemade/from scratch items.
Go Back to Basics!!
BACK TO BASICS: Chipotle is now supporting local sustainable farms, and so should we!
Support small, local farms so we can get rid of the factory farms that fill our food with antibiotics and keep the animals in confined spaces with no natural light, or fresh air to breathe.
This video is the exact meaning of going Back to Basics.
Smoothies are delicious and nutritious! They are the perfect all natural snack to replace ice cream or any other unhealthy sweet snack since smoothies are naturally sweet from the fruit used to make the smoothie. Aside from that, it is a great way to get your fruit and/or vegetable serving for the day (which ever you choose to put in your smoothie).
I just made a delicious smoothie tonight (pictured above) and here’s how:
5-6 organic strawberries
2 handfuls of organic blueberries
2 organic bananas
2 tbs of organic vanilla yogurt
-blend until smooth-
a cup of ice (add more to the blender last if needed)
add 2 tbs of organic flax seed and
approx 1/4 - 1/2 cup of organic grass-fed milk (as much as you prefer)
-blend again until flax seeds are crushed and mixed well-
This made me 32oz of smoothie or approx 4 cups.
So go back to basics, skip the unhealthy, processed junk, and satisfy your sweet-tooth with something healthy and delicious!