Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips

Ahhh!! I’m so excited about my new camera! I can’t wait to learn how to use it well! I got the Nikon D3200 because it seemed like a solid beginner DSLR at a great price. The photos in this post were shot indoors just before sunset with no diffuser or reflector, and no post-processing or filters. Not bad for my first food shoot with this camera!
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I’ve had several failed attempts at kale chips, but I think I’ve finally figured out the right way to make them! Here are some tips:

1. Use curly kale

2. Cut the leaves from the tough stalk of the kale.

3. Do not over-oil the kale (use an oil mister)

4. Do not over-crowd the baking sheet

5. Watch the kale closely as it bakes so it becomes crisp but not burned

Before:

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Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale
Olive oil in a mister
White vinegar in a mister (or vinegar powder, such as this one)
Finely ground sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tear curly kale into 2″ sized pieces and scatter over a baking sheet lined with lightly greased aluminum foil. Work in batches instead of crowding the baking sheet.

2. Lightly mist the kale with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with a dusting of salt.

3. Bake for 8 minutes, flip the kale leaves, and bake for several minutes more. Monitor closely- you want the kale to be crisp, but not burnt.

Enjoy the kale chips warm or allow to cool and store for a couple of days in a sealed container. Experiment with other kale chip flavors as well. Try salt + curry powder, garlic salt, grated parmesan, or simply salt + pepper as tasty alternatives! Oh, and definitely brush your teeth after eating these or you might scare people off with your green breath :)

After:

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Mini Taco Cups

I’ve been cooking a lot, but not posting much lately. I wanted to share this awesome easy recipe with you today since I have a bit of time on my hands. Before coming up with this easy version, I was making a similar but more labor intensive stuffed egg roll recipe. These taco cups are cute, crunchy, and satisfying. Serve them at a football party or pack a few in your workday lunch. They’re tasty hot or cold!
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Ingredients:
24 wonton wrappers (sold in the produce section of your grocery store next to the tofu)
1/2 lb lean ground turkey or beef
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup salsa
1-2 tsp taco seasoning
Cooking spray
1/2 cup 2% reduced fat shredded Mexican blend cheese
Cilantro, sour cream, and/or guacamole for garnish

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly spray two 12-cup muffin tins with cooking spray.
2. Brown the ground meat in a frying pan until no longer pink. Drain.
3. In a separate pan, saute together the bell pepper and onion until tender. Add to the ground meat.
4. Stir in taco seasoning, black beans, and salsa. Mix until well combined.
5. Press a wonton wrapper into each lightly greased muffin cup. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the meat and vegetable mixture into each wonton cup.
6. Top each cupful with a pinch of shredded cheese and bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes, or until the corners of the wonton cups turn golden brown but not burned.

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This recipe serves six semi hungry, four hungry, or two ravenous people :)
There are approximately 280 calories per four cup serving. Enjoy!

Green Applesauce

Remember when I made that basic green juice? It’s great and all, but all the apple and spinach pulp make it kinda chunky. After letting my green juice sit in the blender for 5 minutes this morning, I discovered a use for all that pulp!

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Green applesauce!

It’s so easy. Just let any green juice you make in the blender sit for a few minutes. The pulp will rise to the top while the liquid becomes clear below. Carefully pour out the bottom layer of juice and save the pulp. Once you’re done drinking your glass of green juice, enjoy the tasty pulp as a simple applesauce. This way none of the nutrients go to waste and you don’t have to drink a chunky juice.

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Ingredients:
1 green apple, quartered
1 big handful fresh spinach
1 tbs lemon juice
*optional* 1 cup water and 1 cup ice

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender. The water and ice will create green juice AND applesauce. Omitting the water and ice will yield just applesauce, and it’s a little harder to blend this way. Blend on high setting until smooth.

2. If using water and ice, allow the mixture to sit in the blender for a few minutes until it separates. Carefully pour out the liquid into one glass and spoon the pulp layer off into another glass. Enjoy both!

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This recipe is great for kids! The applesauce has a pretty green color, but doesn’t taste at all like like spinach.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Indulge in pumpkin pie goodness without the guilt! This recipe is easy, creamy, and refreshingly chilly. The pumpkin is rich in potassium and beta carotene, while the greek yogurt delivers a good dose of protein!

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Ingredients:
1/3 cup frozen pumpkin purée (freeze in ice cube tray or ziplock bag)
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 packets stevia
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg, clove, and ginger (optional)
For topping: Crushed graham cracker and whipped cream (optional)

1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth, split between two glasses, and top with whipped cream and crushed graham cracker!

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Persimmon Sorbet

Have you ever tried persimmons? They look like tomatoes, but have a honey-like sweetness. This fruit is in season in the fall and tastes great in breads, pies, puddings, and in the raw. I decided to use my persimmons in a fresh sorbet with black tea. It’s very easy to make and tastes refreshing!

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Ingredients:
5 or 6 large persimmons
1 cup strong black tea
1/4 cup sugar (optional)

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1. Peel the persimmons by placing them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then running under cold water to peel.
2. Place the peeled persimmons, tea, and sugar in a high powered blender. Blend until smooth.
3. Pour the purée into a Pyrex dish and freeze for at least 2 hours.
4. Scoop the frozen purée back into the blender and re-blend until smooth. Serve with pomegranate seed sprinkles!

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Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

How was your Halloween?

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I hope you dressed up and carved a pumpkin to celebrate! Here’s a tasty recipe to make using all those leftover pumpkin seeds.

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Ingredients:
2 cups raw pumpkin seeds (or pepitas)
1 egg white, beaten
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbs chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Spread on baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and bake for 15 mins, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy with sparkling wine or beer!

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7 Crunchy Gluten-free Snacks

Sorry for being MIA over the past few weeks! Colby and I recently bought a brand new house, so we’ve been busy learning about the home-buying process over the past few weeks. I also started a new schedule at work. I’m still adjusting to starting later and coming home after dinnertime, but I think it’ll be awesome for blogging in the morning.

When I come home late in the evening and curl up with my phone or laptop to browse houzz, I like to snack on something crunchy. Here are my latest faves for munching:

Jalepeño ranch popcorn chips… Wow! Spicy, crunchy, whole grain, amazing.

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The white cheddar flavor is great if you’re craving Cheetos.

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Parmesan herb popcorn bursts with flavor, too.

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If you’re craving a sweet snack, try cinnamon sugar kettle corn.

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If you prefer crackers, try these sea salt and almond rice rounds:

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Sweet potato tortilla chips boast a lovely combo of lightly sweet and salty flavors.

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Finally, my top pick for salsa dipping are these blue corn tortilla chips. They’re chock-full of quinoa and flax seeds as an added bonus!

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Happy snacking! I should really get back to cooking real food, right?

Flavor Your Own Yogurt

Do you know how much sugar there is in strawberry yogurt?

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Check it out:

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26 grams! To put that in visual terms, there are about 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon, so one 6 oz Yoplait yogurt has over 6 teaspoons of sugar in it! By comparison, a cup of Froot Loops has 12 grams, or 3 teaspoons, of sugar. That’s less than half of Yoplait’s sugar content! I didn’t always realize how sugar laden flavored yogurt can be, but I set my mind to flavoring my own after finding out.

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I like to use plain Fage Greek Yogurt because it’s creamier than regular yogurt. This brand of Greek yogurt is strained to give it it’s texture and high protein content. Some brands of Greek, such as Dannon, do not make their thick “Greek” yogurt by the traditional method of straining. They take a shortcut and add thickening agents. This results in more filler ingredients and less protein. Fage has fewer calories and more than quadruple the protein of Yoplait Light!

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I buy the big container because it’s less expensive per serving than individual cups. You can usually get it for under $5 at Costco. You’ll notice it does contain some sugar. These 9 grams are lactose sugar, the less sweet milk sugar inherently found in dairy products.

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I use stevia to add sweetness to my yogurt because it’s a calorie-free plant extract. If you’re ok with using a bit of caloric sweetener, try a spoon of local honey or unrefined sugar in your yogurt instead.

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(Follow @GemmaCorrell on Instagram for more puns!)

Here is all you need to make your plain Greek yogurt vanilla flavored:

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Ingredients:
8 oz plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Liquid stevia to taste (about 3/4 dropper)

Stir the vanilla extract and stevia into the plain yogurt and mix well. Liquid stevia can be hard to find, so you can substitute 1-2 packets of powdered stevia. I buy my liquid stevia on amazon.com for about $10 per bottle. This lasts me between 3-6 months.

For more fun flavors, top your vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit. Try strawberries, blueberries, or peaches. Frozen fruit works well too!

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Kiwi Spinach Green Smoothie

I usually make very basic green smoothies. The only ingredients are green apples and spinach. Today I decided to add a little something special- kiwi! This exotic fruit is rich in potassium, vitamin C, and natural protein digesting enzyme, actinidain. It’s also one of the lowest pesticide containing conventionally grown foods, so you don’t have to buy organic. Here’s how to make a super green smoothie with it:

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Ingredients:
1 kiwi, no need to peel!
1/2 green apple
1 handful baby spinach
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 c water
Handful of ice cubes

1. Combine all ingredients in a powerful blender and gradually increase speed from low to high until very smooth. Serve immediately.

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I still have lots of kiwi to use up. That’s what I get for buying it at Costco! Maybe I will come up with more kiwi recipes. For now, I’ll be enjoying more of these refreshing green smoothies.

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