Yes, I have been a bit too into putting the old reliables back into my diet in a paleo way. In one day I made three paleo pumpkin pies and muffins and don't even like pumpkin pie! I tried to make a pecan fig tart over and over without success and have some good bar cookies and freezer bars (they don't stay together at room temperature) for our munching, but nothing really shines yet as THE recipe to submit to the world. Still working, tinkering... Since I have a husband trying to stay on the zone and am trying to preserve my own sanity, my baking is going to be more limited in the future. Baking within paleo and fruit sugar source restrictions is difficult to say the least. There have been many delicious failures...
Today, I would like to promote veggies. Plain and simple. I have made two awesomely delicious veggie chips that I have to share.
Being a skeptic with any recipe that says it can replicate chips (yes, I have tried baked apple chips and they DID NOT warrant the name of chips; they were more like chewy apple jerky), you can imagine how thrilled I was to find I can make crispy chips out of my own oven! Using nutritious non-tuber veggies! Without frying! And I can make them easily all by myself! How awesome is that?! Now you can too!
I already spouted about how nutritious kale is in Kale Salad. For example, it is labeled as a superfood for being so nutritious, so check it out. One caveat: cooking veggies leads to some nutrient loss, so keep that in mind. On the other hand, heat breaks cell walls making many nutrients more bioavailable to us during digestion. So the take away message: eat your veggies both raw and cooked!
Kale Chippies (yes, you have to say it in your squeaky, high-pitched GIR voice)
Basically, I tried this recipe I found at Girl Gone Primal and just converted the oven temperature to Fahrenheit and added my go-to spice: garlic powder! Never underestimate the power of garlic to take something good to the next level of deliciousness!
Cooking Time: Start to finish, less than a half an hour!
1 bunch of kale per diner (I used dinosaur kale because it has such great texture--like dinosaur skin!)
any other spices your heart desires
Preheat your oven to 355. Meanwhile, wash the crap out of your kale (unfortunately, farmers market kale is often teaming with life, so wash thoroughly!). Tear the kale leaves off the thick part of the stalk in big chunks. There is some shrinkage in the oven, so don't make them too small or they'll shrivel up and burn. Discard the thick stalks (I have to find a recipe using them, I feel bad throwing them away!). Dry your kale in a salad spinner or with paper towels. Dinosaur kale is pretty awesome in that it repels water, so there isn't much water to wick away after washing. Now, put your kale on a sheet pan or pans (preferably lined with Silpat, parchment, or foil) so that they aren't overly crowded (ideally one layer). I was living on the edge and neglected to line my sheet pan or use two pans for two bunches of kale--such a rebel!--but since the other recipes mention these preventative measures, I should too even though mine was successful and without excessive cleanup. Next, drizzle on the olive oil (don't glug, but try to get enough on there to coat once you toss it--remember fat is GOOD) and then sprinkle on the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and any other spices you desire. Toss the leaves around with your hands to coat everybody equally. Now, whack 'er in the oven for 10 minutes and check. Remove to a plate any browned ones or firm ones that are chips. Yes, they are actually chips! Leave in any floppy, moist ones for another 5 minutes in the oven. Repeat until all of your kale has magically transformed into CHIPS!
Crunch away on one of the most awesome and nutritious chips out there!
Alton Brown from the epicly nerdlicious Food Network show Good Eats helped inspire this eggplant application. His brilliant pressing strategy lets the eggplant soak in taste rather than become a mushy mess. Eggplant is delicious and nutritious, so don't shy away from this purple peculiarity.
Eggplant is a nightshade (NOTE: I will discuss at more length in a future post), which means it isn't the best if you are avoiding inflammation and is not quite tasty if you are a cat indulging upon human dinner left out on the counter momentarily unattended (yes, she threw up--but no, it didn't deter her from another counter scavenger hunt later that night, damn cat). Nutrition wise, eggplant has a good amount of fiber, potassium, manganese, and B vitamins. It is filled with antioxidants that provide a protective role in our bodies from damaging oxidative reactions. One such phytonutrient antioxidant in eggplant protects the lipids in our brain cell membranes. Another one in high quantity is chlorogenic acid which has been found to have anti-cancer, antiviral, anti-microbial, and anti-LDL cholesterol functions. Bottom line: surprise, surprise, veggies are good for you!
Here is a great method of preparation which serves as a stepping stone to other inventive culinary creations!
Eggplant takes a little more preparation than kale, but there is a delicious reward for your diligence.
Time Required: at least 2 hours of pressing, then it is fast and done in 15 minutes. You can also prepare the eggplant ahead of time and use them for dinner that night--especially if you can give those babies a flip and change their towels half way through the day.
one regular-sized eggplant per diner
Slice the eggplant into half inch thick...slices (I hate repeating myself) and lay one layer on sheet pans lined with pet hair-free tea towels or doubled paper towels. Sprinkle with salt (don't coat). Then, top with a tea towel or another doubled paper towel sheet. Place another sheet pan on top and weigh it down using whatever you have handy that is heavy (i.e. cast iron pans, cans, your cat). Let them press for 1 hour. Afterwards, come back and replace the now damp towels, flip the eggplant, sprinkle with salt, and replace the heavies for more pressing. Repeat as many times as desired/you have the patience for. Once ready to cook, rinse the eggplant to get off the salt (don't worry, there is still some inside, but not too much, hence the "don't coat" warning above--believe me, I have been there). Dry with paper towels/pet hair-free tea towels and lay in one layer on the bare sheet pan (use two pans if you can't fit them all). Don't line the sheet pan this time because we are headed for the broiler and lining can't take the heat, baby. Drizzle olive oil on your eggplant and you're going to have to be a little liberal since those suckers are sponges. Turn your broiler on to Low and place the sheet pan on the highest rack. Prop the door open at its broiler location (why is that again? perhaps for morons like me who like to close the door and forgetaboutit to the point of burnage?). Check in five minutes for browning, and if you have it, flip. If not, wait til you do. Once both sides are browned, you are done! Salt or spice to taste.
Neapolitan with Meat Sauce: One incredibly tasty way to serve these is as little Neapolitans with Basic Meat Sauce. Just assemble your little Leaning Tower and create a tasty moat surrounding with the excess (mine was not suitable for pictures--even the sauce in my pic looks more bloody than tomatoey, unfortunately). NOTE: this serving style will lose the crispiness of the eggplant, but their roasted sweetness really hits the meat sauce out of the park!
Dunkin' Style: You can avoid the mushiness of the first application if you serve the chips on the side of the meat sauce and use them to dip, as my husband did during our feast. Yes, my husband is brilliant, but mine was more architecturally pleasing ;)
Neapolitan with Roasted Portobellos, Roasted Red Peppers, Pesto, Fresh Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella (sorry, I am off the cheese for awhile, so no pics of this one): When I used to indulge more on cheese, I replicated a layered deli item from Whole Foods. After paying over $10 for this tasty dish, I decided to make it myself instead. Just broil the eggplant using my recipe, broil portobellos the same way (no need to salt and press them first, just follow the broiling method after drizzling in olive oil and sprinkling with salt), then create a tasty stack of layered mushroom slathered in pesto, topped with roasted red pepper (roast yourself or buy in the jar, but check to make sure it is paleo--no citric acid, soy, wheat, or grain products allowed!), topped with fresh basil, topped with eggplant, and finally topped with fresh mozzarella cheese. Broil or microwave the Neapolitan to melt the cheese before serving/gorging upon. Um, yum!
The sky is the limit. You have a great base for many flavors and applications. For instance, try them as Eggplant Parmesan if you eat cheese or want to indulge. I bet they would be damn tasty sprinkled with parmesan before broiling! You can also just snack on them as chips. I know I have, and I didn't feel once ounce of guilt!
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