Setting kale for a new era of eating

I’ve been struggling with stomachaches for the last several years. Nothing debilitating, most of the time, but definitely not something I want to live with for the rest of my life. The pattern was random – I could go a week or two and be fine, and then the next week would be terrible. I long suspected some sort of food intolerance was at stake, but I didn’t know what. A few gluten and/or lactose free friends encouraged me to try an elimination diet, or just try eliminating one thing at a time until I found it. However, not wanting to give up my favorite foods, and not liking the prospect of randomly eliminating things for a couple weeks a at a time until something changed, I decided to get a blood food allergy test. While not 100% accurate, these tests look for antibodies in the blood specific to foods, and can offer a good starting point for anyone wishing to locate food intolerances.

The results that came back were not altogether surprising, but also weren’t things I would have thought to pinpoint on my own. While I had figured I had a problem with eggs, I hadn’t suspected bananas, cranberries, pineapple, mushrooms or broccoli – nor would most of these be eliminated in a standard elimination diet. I’ve since stopped eating any of these things and am feeling a good deal better. At some point I’ll try them all again to look for false positives, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, knowing I had some foods I needed to avoid gave me the motivation to really start rethinking how and what I eat. I wanted to start eating better food (healthier, more delicious, better quality, all of the above). Where better to start than with the stereotypical superfood, kale? I mean, they’re putting it in everything these days!

(Credit to Theo’s Chocolate for this image)

Okay, my thought process was less intentional than that. It started with “Oh, I should get produce from the farmer’s market”. A delicious bag of mixed greens from a stand I didn’t know led me to go back to that stand to buy more greens. But alas, they didn’t have any mixed greens.

What did they have? Kale. Lots and lots of kale.

It was cheap and plentiful, so I decided to try it. After listening to a long list of ideas for how to eat kale (from the seller and a loving customer who happened to walk up at the time), and a description of the different kinds of kale – because apparently such a thing exists – I bought a bundle of White Russian Kale to try.

 

Sadly, White Russian Kale isn’t nearly as tasty on its own as the standard White Russian drink, but it’s probably a good deal healthier, and there’s nothing wrong with consuming white russian kale at work.

So there’s that.

Per instructions, I put the kale in some water to freshen it up – in this case, a pyrex pan of water.

It eventually came time to inspect the kale, and I quickly discovered that kale is a very strange plant. Here you see leaves growing out of the leaves.

Go home, kale, you’re drunk.

It was probably all the White Russians.

Since I didn’t really feel like cooking things, I decided to make a kale salad for lunch. One of the suggestions was kale and strawberries, and there were some strawberries lying around my apartment that needed to get eaten (thanks roommate), so, well, perfect.

Kale slicing was easy with a sharp knife. You slice down the edge of the stalk to get the leafy bits.

Insert a few strawberries, slightly bruised, but otherwise delicious.

I also have to throw in a mention of my beautiful bento box. It’s beautiful, I love it, and at some point I’ll do a spotlight on things I’m doing with it. But right now, just enjoy its beauty.

Sliced strawberries, inserted into bento box, stuck it all in the fridge and brought it for work the next day.

Fun fact: kale is very tough. Its not so tough to eat, because teeth are awesome, but I did manage to break my beloved plastic travel spork while trying to eat this salad. So use caution.

It was, however, delicious.

About a week later, I realized that the kale was still hanging out on my counter, in its pyrex pan. It was a little less green at this point, and I figured it needed using, so I decided to use the rest for a food I’d heard all too much about at this point: kale chips.

Again with the kale slicing. This time I added a bunch of olive oil and some salt.

Spread it out on the cast iron pan that currently lives in my oven, and roasted it for about half an hour at 350 degrees F.

It tasted a little bland, so I added a little garlic powder, and then the chips were fantastic. My intention had been to save them for a snack for the camping trip I was leaving for the next morning…

But I made the mistake of making them before making dinner (at about 8pm). A few still got saved, but a lot got eaten. They were delicious.

I did decide, though, that they probably would have been better with kale that wasn’t mostly wilted. The really green chips were the best, the yellow and brown ones weren’t as good.

I mean, really, don’t you just want to eat all of that?

Random thought: one of my pet peeves when looking for recipes is food blogs that have tons of random pictures that I have to scroll through before I can see the recipe.

Look! Look! I made a food!

It was soon decided that what I needed to do was buy more kale, and just make a lot of chips out of it that night.

This time, when I went to the farmer’s market, I got curly kale. The market vendor told me she prefers curly kale to White Russian kale for kale chips because the leaves hold their shape better instead of going kaput in the oven. I’m pretty sure those were her words.

As you can see, curly kale is even crazier looking than White Russian kale. It’s just all… curls all over the place.

Same procedure, though. This time I just piled all the kale on the pan, and poured olive oil over it. Fatal error, I think. I ended up with way too much olive oil… but it was fine.
Holy reduction, Batman! I may have taken a few nibbles before taking this picture, but not *that* many.

The vendor was right – curly kale held its shape better. However, I think I still prefer White Russians.

Erm, kale. That’s what I mean. It had a more pleasant flavor to it, and honestly, shape isn’t as important to me as flavor.

Take what you will of that sentence.

As you may have guessed from the title and intro to this post, my diet is changing at the moment. Hopefully this means more blog posts and more adventurous blog posts, as I try to navigate baking without chicken eggs, and snacking without bananas. And, you know, figuring out how to pack a lunch for myself every day without getting bored or ending up with a really weird lunch.

Kale Chips

Ingredients
Kale
Olive Oil
Seasonings

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Slice kale into smaller bits, removing the large stalk in the middle
  3. Pile on a pan
  4. Drizzle olive oil and top with seasonings
  5. Bake until crispy, approximately 20 minutes, turning periodically (tongs are useful for this)
  6. Eat, share, crumple up and sprinkle on popcorn, whatever your heart desires

I, for one, am going to go look for chocolate to eat with my chips. Sounds delicious.

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