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Posted on Oct 27, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 29 comments

Welcome, Great Pumpkin!

Today’s the day! I’ll be off to Ottawa in just a little while, where I can hopefully leave the frustrations of the week behind and celebrate Halloween in style! Hopefully without going too far overboard while I’m at it… urk.

Admittedly, I did my fair bit of doldrum dwelling yesterday after my le terrible weigh-in. But, never a fan of self-pity, I did try to turn it around. Like all of you wonderful readers were saying to me in the comments, it’s a new day and a new week! No reason not to move forward in full force. So for once I actually counted every calorie I consumed yesterday (1254, shock!) and cooked myself a dinner that was ridiculously healthy for how tasty it was.

VeggieTable
One intensely bountiful produce drawer, plus:

Satay
A few tablespoons of deliciousness, equals:

I EAT VEGGIES.
Veggie bowl to the extreme!

Going out of town means I had an intense game of pantry roulette to play, after all. Had to use up all that produce! In the bowl was spaghetti squash, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, and kale, peanut sauce and some green onions for garnish.

SauteAdd teh veggies
KaleSquish, Squash

Just more kitchen therapy to help haul me out of the doldrums. It worked! Still a little discouraged about my weight situation, but it’s getting better.

Sweet as Pumpkin Pie

Of course, the pumpkin carving party I crashed at Amanda’s didn’t hurt either.

You'd better learn your rules
Such a gracious hostess, hahaha.

In true Halloween spirit, we carved our pumpkins with a scurry movie on the background afteer some mild objections from me. I can’t handle scary movies — I got roped into seeing House of Wax once and had nightmares for like three weeks! But this one, “The Frighteners”, had Michael J. Fox in it so it wasn’t that bad.

Guts
Mmm, guts.

Amanda, her roommate Brad, and our friend Eddie all ambitiously followed patterns from a book, so they ended up with very cool and intricate designs on their pumpkins.

Skeptical ScultorIn process

Me though? I was going for an even classier approach.

Too Much Candy

Bahahaha. And with that image now forever burned into your memory, I bid you adieu! (See? I’m already getting my French-Canadian on.)

Have you carved anything interesting for Halloween this year? Or seen any pumpkins of note on a neighbor’s doorstep, perhaps? Since becoming an “adult” and moving out of my parents’ house I’ve found that my pumpkin carving has fallen by the wayside. Sad! I definitely have to remember to keep this tradition alive.

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Posted on Sep 29, 2011 in Food, Recipes | 43 comments

Roasted Garlic Kale Chips

Oh you guys. You really know how to lift a gal’s spirits. I’m doing my very best not to let yesterday’s weigh-in continue to get me down. So I’m taking a few steps backwards and reverting to the denial stage of my weight gain grieving. Must be water weight, right? 😉

Crisp

I figured that there was no better time to get back on the health horse than with a new recipe to satisfy an old craving. Snacking has always been my downfall. As you guys are probably well aware by now, bad day therapy for the Gretchen of Old included salt, oil, and carrrrbs. Chips, pretzels, fries, Triscuits, Cheez-its… if I had it around, I would eat it. I could demolish an entire canister of Pringles without a second thought (after all, once you pop, you just can’t stop!).

Kale

So I decided to once again try my hand at a tried-and-true bloggers’ favorite: kale chips!

ClovesMashed

Roasted garlic kale chips, to be precise.

Infusion

Well, my fakey version of roasted garlic that is. It might not be oven-roasted, but you kill two birds with one stone this way: you’re not only left with the garlic, but the garlic-infused olive oil too!

Lettuce begin!

I got a huge head (?) of kale at the farmer’s market this past weekend, and couldn’t wait to bust into it. The picture above is of less than half of what I got!

Laid out

This “recipe” (if you can really call it that, seeing as it has 3 ingredients, haha) churned out more kale chips than I knew what to do with. So instead of taking the time to actually figure out how to properly store (refrigerator? Tupperware on counter?) the extras, I just ate it. All of it. Duh.

Pre-baked

Roasted Garlic Kale Chips
Print this recipe!

So easy, and SO simple, these robustly flavored “chips” taste are salty and crisp, but have less than a tablespoon of olive oil for the entire batch!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 – 8 cloves garlic
4 cups torn kale leaves, rinsed and dried
Kosher salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a small, shallow pan to medium-low heat.

1. Add garlic cloves to oil. Simmer cloves on low until they are soft and translucent, at least 15 minutes.

2. Remove garlic from oil and smash (with mortar & pestle if available, otherwise with the back of a wooden spoon like I did.) Then add 1 tablespoon of the garlic-infused oil and mix. Save the rest of the garlic-infused oil in a container for later use.

3. In a large bowl, coat the kale leaves with the garlic & oil mixture (use your hands!) Ensure that each leaf is lightly but thoroughly covered, adding more oil if necessary. Lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet (it may take 2 – 3 baking sheets or batches), and bake for 5 – 8 minutes, checking frequently as they go from perfect to burnt very quickly.

4. Sprinkle a little salt, let cool, and enjoy!

Kale Chips

Bring it on, snack attacks!

These nutrition stats are if you ate the entire thing yourself (er, not that I know anyone who would do that, of course…) FOUR CUPS OF KALE, and less than 300 calories. Of course, this recipe doesn’t yield four full cups of kale CHIPS due to the whole dehydration-shrinkage thing (hehe… “shrinkage“) but still. I know the fat content is on the high side from the olive oil, but again, most normal people probably know how to share. Keke.

I know I ask variations of this question all the time, but what can I say? I only have so much originality in me. Do you have a particular go-to healthy snack substitution? Kale chips aren’t quite as convenient as my beloved Popchips, but I know every single thing that’s in ’em which is pretty neat. And they’re still crisp and, of course, delicious, so they definitely hit the spot!

PS: I’ve made a few changes to the sidebar! I’ve changed up the picture at the top, and created buttons for my Amazon store and T-shirt shop. Let me know what you think!

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Posted on Mar 2, 2011 in Food | 9 comments

Scary Foods Dinner Attempt #1

Good morning, everyone. So, in an attempt to broaden my culinary horizons, my latest trips to the grocery store have included the sincere attempt to buy what I like to call my “scary foods”, which are foods that fall into one of the following categories:

1) Foods I haven’t liked in the past;
2) Foods I haven’t tried in the past;
3) Foods I have never been able to successfully cook for myself.

Last night, I attempted to actually make a palatable dish out of a few of my scary foods. On the docket were:

Brussels sprouts (category 1),

Kale (category 2),

Tofu (category 3).

I decided that the best way for me to tackle these strange, unfamiliar ingredients (well, except tofu – my mom makes awesome tofu dishes that I’ve never been able to replicate!) was to cook them up in a style that I’m veeeery familiar with: Thai!

Specifically, Thai green curry! YUM. Enter the other players:

I made a supah quick marinade for the tofu using low-sodium soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, crystalized ginger, and sriracha. Then, the curry sauce itself was made utilizing a green curry paste and a can of light coconut milk. You whisk the latter two together in a pan on the stove, and then I added a green bell pepper, red onion, and some stemmed kale to cook in the sauce.

Tossed the tofu into a pan with a little coconut and olive oil, and let it do it’s thing before adding it to the curry sauce and vegetables to let it all simmer together (and let the curry sauce reduce slightly):

As you can see in the sprouts picture above, I tried roasting the b. sprouts in the oven with some olive oil and salt. They didn’t end up being a part of the curry itself. After everything was done I piled it into a bowl with some quinoa that I cooked up in the rice cooker (another past scary food, but one that I’ve since conquered and come to <3):



Verdict?

Well, the curry was great. I mean, of course it was – curry IS great, haha. But the tofu turned out really well, so I was quite pleased! I think in the past the reason why I haven’t been successful with my tofu dishes is because I didn’t allow the tofu to really cook long enough. So I let it be for a long time just sizzling away until the edges got browned and it tasted really good. I think the marinade made a big difference too (tofu in and of itself doesn’t have much flavor.)

The kale also tasted good in the curry sauce. It is a little more of a substantial green than spinach or chard is — chewier, I guess. But I can definitely see myself eating this green a lot more in the future, which is good because it’s a superfood, right?

Unfortunately, the sprouts were the least successful part of the meal. I declare that I am not a Brussels sprout convert. I didn’t even finish eating all of the ones in my bowl (and I have like a gajillion leftover!) I think that I *want* to like them more than I ever really will (I see ’em all the time on other healthy living/food blogs and I want to be part of the gang!) I think I had read that roasting them is the best way to make them, but they just have this kind of bitter, sour flavor to them that I don’t think I’ll ever get on board with. Maybe if I doused them in BBQ sauce or something… if any of you have a magical b. sprout recipe that you think will change my mind, please share it with me! I’d be willing to give them one more chance but right now, the odds aren’t stacked in their little green, brainy-lookin’ favor.

Anyway, that was my food adventure for last night! I brought the leftover curry for lunch today, so I’m excited to revisit it (mad love for leftovers for lunch — sandwiches schmandwiches!) I have another exciting-slash-fairly-disgusting health thing that I’m currently pursuing, so I need to determine whether or not I have the ‘nards to actually blog about it, hahahaha. Stay tuned!

PS – I created a new page under the “About Me” section of the blog, all about the pupsters! Have you checked it out yet?

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