Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kale Krazy

If it's possible to fall in love with a vegetable, kale would be my muse. Seriously--this is a hardy, hard-core, leafy green that is delicious and can be prepared in numerous ways. It is choc full of Calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Beta Carotene and some other things that we can't even pronounce. 100 grams of fresh kale leaves contain 200% of the recommended daily levels of Vitamin C. Take that, oranges! It has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable and until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. Long live the Queen of Vegetables!

Before becoming vegan, I cringed at the idea of eating any vegetable that does not start with "po" and end in "tato." Dark green leafy vegetables? As we say in New York, forgedaboudit! Now I can't get enough of this stuff. It has a wonderful texture and a deep, rich, almost peppery flavor. You can use it to liven up any meal. 

So here are a few of our favorite ways to prepare this green goddess: 

Kale Chips
These are a tasty, crunchy replacement for greasy potato chips and can be used as a topper on...well, anything. Explore your own favorite flavors by mixing up the spices you use. 

1. Prep the kale. Simply wash, pat dry and cut into bite size pieces.
2. Arrange pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet. Lightly drizzle olive oil on top of the kale and toss it about with your hands, making sure it all gets coated evenly. I recommend using a Misto if you've got one. 
3. Sprinkle salt on the kale. I highly recommend using Himilayan pink salt.
4. Cook in the oven at 250 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. 

Note that the kale will become very soft before it begins to crisp up! Don't panic if you check on it and it seems limp. Give it time and it will turn crunchy and delicious. After you give the basic recipe a try, explore other spices like garlic powder, paprika, cumin, etc.

Description: http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/05/15/chipskale_custom-00f6fddd0bf6fcfe5067b15cb2c4e8a72a8e3278-s6-c10.jpg

Sauteed Kale
This is an old school, super easy way to prepare kale. The dark green color will become even more vibrant as it cooks. 

1. Prep the kale.Wash, pat dry and cut into pieces that are roughly 1-2 inches long. Prepare what looks like about twice as much as you need. It will greatly reduce in size!
2. Using a saute pan, cook the kale over medium heat (no oil necessary). Optionally, add minced garlic, salt and pepper.
3. As you are cooking, gradually add a tablespoon or two of water. The kale will absorb the water as it becomes tender. 

Andrea's Kale Salad 
No cooking required! The recipe for this zesty salad is a creation by my bestie, Andrea.

One large bag (or head) of kale
2 tbs Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids
The juice of one lemon
One clove of crushed garlic
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste

1. Prep the kale. Simply wash, pat dry and cut into bite size pieces.
2. Put all of the ingredients except the kale into a large bowl and mix well.
3. Toss in the kale, coating it well.
4. Serve immediately. 

Got any delicious kale recipes? Send 'em our way and we'll add it to the blog!

Enjoy and happy kaling,

Sunday, February 17, 2013

In the Veganning...

So it all started with a desire to get healthier, have a baby, and a little documentary called Vegucated (now streaming on Netflix). We knew we wanted to lose some weight and thought that a vegan cleanse would be the "extreme", "dramatic", "shock to the system" that our bodies needed.  We would commit to 30 days then pick up a healthy life-style at the end.  We just knew that after the 30 days ended we'd be able to enjoy burgers, ice-cream, and sweet-treats in moderation because our palettes would have changed...we'd be more in control. We were right about one thing...our palettes did change, but so did we.  

We have more energy, our skin is practically glowing, and we are losing weight and inches just by switching to a plant-based diet.  So far, Emily has lost 4 lbs and 5 1/4 inches and while Amanda's weight hasn't changed much she has lost over 9 inches.  Our clothes fit better, and people are starting to notice.  In addition, we must admit, fresh foods just look and taste better.  Also, there was zero baby-mama-drama involved in the process.  It wasn't hard to find good food, and we didn't go hungry.  The switch was actually...well, pretty simple.  By replacing all of our trigger foods (i.e. ice cream, cheese, and fried chicken) with healthier plant-based alternatives we craved them less.  This was more than we'd hoped for, and while exciting, is not the only reason we've decided to continue the vegan lifestyle.

We thought we were already doing our part by saying "no" to paper and plastic. "We brought our own bags thanks."  We recycle regularly and use special earth-friendly soap in the dishwasher. Then we learned about a study conducted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO report found that current production levels of meat contribute between 14 - 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of "CO2-equivalent" greenhouse gases the world produces every year.  It turns out that producing half a pound of hamburger for your Double Quarter Pounder at McDonalds (~ the size of two decks of cards), releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000 lb car nearly 10 miles. FAO says WHUUUT?!! Seriously...switching to a vegan diet for just 1 year reduces your CO2 emissions significantly more than by switching to a hybrid car. Not to mention all of the deforestation and reduction in water sources due to open air sewage pits.

This brings us to what's in our shopping cart. We were buying cage free eggs and organic meats...we were so hip, earthy, and animal friendly. Imagine our surprise to learn that "organic" isn't always better and "cage free" does not equal sunshine and fields. "Organic" is all about what the animals are fed and has nothing to do with how they are treated. We were shocked and saddened by the cruelty animals are forced to endure, and we're not just talking about the in-your-face slaughtering for tasty (we actually just gagged a little) buffalo wings and double-cheeseburgers.  Dairy cows are pumped full of hormones and forced to reproduce in an effort to keep the fountain of milk flowing...so what of those baby calves?  They are torn from their mothers (who actually fight for them) and turned into veal.  Pigs are dunked into tanks of scalding hot water just to remove the hair, brutally castrated, and the beaks of chickens are cut-off. All of this without pain-killers.

While we've started to develop some strong feelings and opinions about the meat and dairy industry, we did not start this blog to stand on our soap boxes.  At the start of our 30 days we searched high and low for guidance on how to make the switch to a vegan lifestyle and actually found that there wasn't a lot out there for newbies like ourselves.  Did being vegan mean we had to get rid of our down comforter and leather boots?  What in the world is Nutritional Yeast, and why would I ever want to eat that? Am I less of a vegan if I eat things that may have been produced in the same factory as products that contain milk? What about my pets...do they need to be vegan? Am I a bad friend for refusing to serve chicken and sneaking Tempeh into the lettuce wraps? Seriously...we had a lot of questions and still have a ton to learn.  We will never be experts, but we hope that this blog will answer some of your questions, encourage you to try some new things, and be a space to share our highs and lows.  Remember...it's just the veganning.

Vegucated Trailer...Check-it Out!