Friday, April 12, 2013
Cheesy kale chips
A few years ago, when I was feeling really terrible, I went on a raw vegan diet. Don't laugh. I know the science behind raw foodism is complete bonkers, but I felt like my body needed lots of fresh, raw vegetables at the time and considering I don't like meat much at all and eat tons of veggies, adopting the diet wasn't such a struggle. Weight I'd been carrying around since the birth of my son dropped away, my skin glowed with health, and I felt terrific!
Then I got diagnosed with colon cancer.
The cancer was slow-growing, meaning it had been inside me long before I adopted a raw food diet, but I often wonder if that year-long foray into eating fresh, raw organic food helped in any way. Maybe it slowed the growth of those cancer cells so they didn't invade the tissue around the tumor, which would have given me a wholly different prognosis.
Or maybe the diet didn't do a damn thing.
A month ago I started transitioning back to my vegetarian diet -- lots of leafy green veggies, salads, colorful squashes, some starch, and the occasional taste of nightshade fruits (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and red peppers). I avoid gluten as it irritates my digestive system post surgery, and I'm now off caffeine (thanks to Dandy Blend) and have cut back severely on sugar (slowly getting used to stevia in my morning Dandy Blend.) I am thinking of giving up dairy, too, except that I love cheese. I would marry cheese if I could.
One treat I loved when I was eating "raw" was kale chips. I discovered cheesy kale chips in a gourmet market over in Concord. They were something like $7 or $8 for a medium-size bag and I'm pretty sure I ate the whole bag before I got home. I looked at the ingredients and decided to make my own recipe since I grew tons of kale and owned a dehydrator.
Kale chips are seriously delicious. Even though I eat real cheese on a regular basis, I think they still taste very cheesy. After about an hour of dehydrating, they fill my house with such a mouthwatering smell, I start lifting the lid to nibble on the small bits that are almost dry. (That's why the tray above looks a little sparse.)
A couple tips: you really need a heavy-duty blender to make the cheese sauce. We have a Vitamix, which turns the nuts into a creamy butter. I don't think a regular blender would work. You do not need a dehydrator, though. I've made successful batches of kale chips with my oven set at 175-200 degrees F. However, it seems to take longer to crisp them up in the oven.
Cheesy Kale Chips
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight and drained
1 red pepper, chopped roughly
2 tbsp. lemon juice (I cheat and use bottle juice sometimes)
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast (do not confuse this with baking yeast, which makes bread rise. Nutritional yeast is used by vegetarians/vegans as its rich in Vitamin B12 and has a slightly cheesy flavor.)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Kale, approximately 12-15 oz. (I buy the prewashed kale at Whole Foods for $2.99 and use about 3/4 of the bag)
Combine all ingredients except the kale in the mixer jar. Blend on high speed until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Place kale in a large bowl big enough so that you can toss and mix it around. Pour the sauce over and rub it into the kale. I spend about five minutes giving the kale its cheese bath.
Place the kale on your dehydrator trays. (It's okay to crowd it -- after an hour or two it will shrink up and you can rearrange everything.) Dehydrate at 135 degrees F for four to six hours until crisp and crackly. Test often. ;-)
If you try cheesy kale chips, let me know what you think.