Kale mini-tutorial, traveling, and other “stuff”

I realized something on my vacation a week ago. Eating a plant-based diet is really not so different elsewhere. Elsewhere being anyplace but where I live, in the Ohio heartland. For over a year, I’ve been thinking, “Oh, when I go to glorious ____(insert latest destination), there will be vegan restaurants overflowing my iPhone app, the long awaited Daiya cream cheese I’ve been searching for will be rolling down the street, and it will all be perfect!” Well, I’m sure it can be easier elsewhere, maybe in Portland Oregon, from where I have heard. But I’m thinking that is the quite rare exception, a pinprick on the globe. Things are not so different elsewhere.

Our trip included the gorgeous Steamboat Springs, Colorado and Boulder, and a few other stops. Even in Boulder (which did show a lot of great places on my Happy Cow app), when just walking around looking at restaurant menus, it was like being anywhere else. And still no Daiya cream cheese…My message to myself–stop lamenting how “easy” it is elsewhere. It’s up to each and every one of us to make our food choices happen, whether it’s to be a healthier eater, or vegetarian, or non-processed food eater, non-sugar consumer, etc. Just be coincidence, I’m going out-of-town this weekend with just one child to a soccer tournament in Tennessee. Definitely not Portland. I stocked up on some convenient snacks and foods for us, will be packing a cooler, and I’m going to make this trip my smoothest travel/eating experience yet.

On to kale, I know a few of my followers are considering a more/all plant-based diet (Auntie!!), and may like this tip. I’m so certain that Dinosaur Kale, also called Lacinato Kale, is great for all of us to eat, no matter what our diet is. It has calcium that is well-absorbed (unlike spinach, unfortunately), and it has tons of phytonutrients. So if you are new to it, here is how to cut it up. The pieces can be used for salad, smoothies, sautéed, or cooked into recipes. Here is how I used it in a previous post.

In my experience, you can wash  the leaves before or after the cutting, your choice. This time I cleaned after I trimmed them.

Flip the leaf over to its lighter “back” side. Cut along the full length of the thick middle stem, on both sides of the stem. I like to use the tip of my knife. Place the cut leaves in a pile as shown.

Kale being destemmed

kale is process of being destemmed pic 2

 

When a good-sized pile is ready, cut along the width of the long leaves, producing bite sized pieces.

 

kale in bite sized pieces pic 3

 

 

It’s ready to go! If you still need to wash it, my method is to place the pieces in cold water, swish around, and then pull them out and place into a colander to dry. Use more swishes/bowls of water if it seems dirty or if the kale is not organic. I stored this latest batch for several days in an airtight container. Here is how I used it: I threw a handful into some hot pre-made Butternut squash soup I had purchased at Kroger and let it cook a little while. It was still bit chewy, but made a quick healthy meal. Another day I added a creamy poppy seed salad dressing and topped the salad with my new fave snack, roasted pumpkin seeds. The leaves truly did not seem chewier than spinach to me and it always fills me up a little bit more too. Tomorrow I think I will use the last of the kale in a smoothie.

I follow my friend Diana (Veggie Next Door) on Twitter. She often does a tweet on the weekend about her latest impulse buys at Whole Foods. I love to see what other people succumb to choose at Whole Foods. So here is what I found yesterday that I had not planned on with my carefully crafted meal plan and list for the week:

Whole Foods unplanned buys

Roasted chickpeas snack (saving for the drive on Friday), Rip’s cereal (haven’t tried yet either, sorry), and Teese non-dairy nacho cheese–seems soft so I plan to heat it up and pour on nachos sometime. Drop me a line if you want the report on any of these and I’ll put them in a future blog post.

I bought this, but I had planned on this one:

Daiya pizza

I made this non-dairy/vegan pizza tonight for Meatless Monday. It was awesome. My hubby loved it too–and he’s pretty particular about any type of pizza. When the pizza cravings hit, this is an excellent option for me. It’s even gluten-free, if that’s a concern. It was 9.99, so very similar to a take out pizza.

Have a good week!

Practice Makes (Somewhat) Perfect

Cooking and eating animal-free/plant-based gets easier with practice. Uh, yeah. What in life does not? Whether it is in one’s professional life, learning to drive a car, athletics, trimming a bush, gardening, painting a room… this is a fact.  I just keep plugging away. I want to learn to make this lifestyle easy and I’ve got to win them (family) over with great food. Some days I feel really good, like I can just do this without over-taxing my brain or without a recipe (with simple vegetable dishes for example). I hope it keeps getting easier, and I believe it will.

Here are some things I’ve tried lately, with my typical mixed results:

  • Vegan Biscuits-let’s just say they were dry and I got a lot of ribbing for those. I think I overmixed them.
  • Cauliflower lasagna from Appetite for Reduction (by who else, Isa Chandra Moskowitz). Has a brilliant “ricotta” made from tofu and cooked cauliflower. Very good.
  • Cumin Lime Black Bean Quinoa Salad from Oh She Glows blog
  • Blueberry Cake
  • Peach Crisp
  • Lots of vegetable cooking such as corn on the cob, sautéed kale, summer squashes, broccoli-my veggie delivery has of course has had great fresh produce.

 

Everything was fairly successful, but here is the one that I think is just beautiful and so delicious and healthy, the Cumin Lime Black Bean Quinoa Salad from Oh She Glows (fabulous blog–I will rave again–and an excellent summer dish. This is my photo. The only change I made from the recipe, which you can click to get to, is I added 2 tsp of maple syrup to the dressing instead of 1. I was a little fearful of too much cumin taste, which I like, but just not in large amounts. I don’t know that it was necessary though. It calls for more carrot, but I got tired of trying to julienne them into thin strips. I ordered a julienne peeler, to help with this recipe and I really want to try zucchini “noodles” with it also.

cumin lime black bean quinoa salad from Oh She Glows

Oh, and big news– I finally kicked my diet cola addiction, compulsion, whatever it was, to the curb. I’m not naming a brand name to keep myself out of any trouble, but it’s the main brand that gets the most advertising. Trust me, I don’t think I’m better than anyone else. I drank the stuff for a really, stupidly, excessively, ridiculously long time. I didn’t drink coffee in college, and I thought I needed it to get me through studying…then I guess it was eventually a habit. A habit that I figured wasn’t too bad, at least it wasn’t empty sugar calories and it was ok on the teeth (now this is pretty much proven to not be true). It’s not that hard (this is the new me saying this) to use common sense and see that it is bad for you–most likely the companies just try to use their influence to fight every study that comes out–with the terrible level of acid, phosphoric acid is not good for the bones, and lots of artificial sugar. There are further theories on the sweeteners breaking down into toxic chemicals… I’m not even worried about what I have read being true or untrue, solid-proven with a high confidence level science-or not. I felt like this was a good time for me to say, it’s time to become a grown-up and just get over it. I learned that iced tea has a neutral pH (acid level), whereas my diet cola had a pH level in the 3 range. Each number on the scale, i.e. going from neutral of 7.0 to 6.0 is a 10 fold difference! Oh my. So I am trying to drink different forms of iced tea, with either no sweetener (nearly all the time) or just a touch of stevia if it seems too bitter. It’ s a funny thing-after a few weeks of unsweetened tea, tea with added sugar tastes grossly over-sweetened to me. Who knew the tastes buds could be trained so quickly? I only mention this to inform you, if I could do this, anyone could…

Have a great week!