Kale 101

All about the greenest, most elitist, most annoying-to-hear-about vegetable

Kale 101

Still don’t know about kale? No problem. Come out from your cave and open your eyes. Let me introduce you.

It’s a super food.

But, you’re going to loathe it.

I sure do.

And, I’m not alone.

Click here to see Jim Gaffigan commiserate about it.

But with all the benefits, it’s worth knowing the basics.

What the hell is kale?

Kale is one of the world’s healthiest foods. It’s like:

  • Lettuce, but greener.
  • Broccoli but leafier.
  • Cabbage but less German.

It’s a vegetable available year round. You can get it from farmer’s markets. Or, you can buy it pre-washed and bagged at most grocery stores.

Why the hell should I eat kale?

The brightest, most vibrantly-colored fruits and veggies are the healthiest. Why? Because they’re filled with the most vitamins and nutrients. And since they might not be as tasty as iceberg lettuce, they need to be very attractive to the human eye.

If kale wasn’t SO green, would anyone eat it?

Doubtful.

On it’s own, in raw-form, like chewing bamboo.

Aren’t the world’s processes of natural selection beautiful (and masochistic)?

Alas, inside kale’s deep, dark green color lives a boat load of health benefits.

Vitamins: Tons of vitamins including 100% of daily value of Vitamin A and C.

Protein: Yes, plant-based foods provide protein.

Flavanoids: Over 40 of ‘em.

Need more reasons?

Kale prevents heart disease and inhibits cancer. Oh yeah, and it helps lower cholesterol.

How to eat more kale?

Eating raw kale on its own is downright gross. It’s extreme roughage. Crunchy, chewy, strangely flavored.

So, you gotta doctor it up a bit.

Here are some of my favorite ways to eat more kale:

Smoothies and juices: consuming kale in its raw form has most cancer inhibiting benefits.

Click here to see my favorite kale (protein) smoothie.

Salads: Mixed with other veggies, kale makes a very flavorful salad.

Click here to see my Kale Brussels Sprout Salad.

Eggs: Sauté a handful and eat with scrambled egg whites. Gives your eggs a crunch.

Click here to see how I put kale in egg whites.

Bottom line: Cook it. Mix it. Blend it.

Buying and storing kale

Kale is available at nearly all grocery stores, year round. Easiest is to buy in pre-washed, pre-cut bag. And, farmers often spray it with pesticides, so it’s worth the extra 20 cents to get organic.

It lasts about a week in the fridge. Be sure to keep it in an air-tight bag.

Conclusion

Kale is very unsexy. But people who eat it are:

Very sexy.

Go get a bag of kale tonight and put it in a smoothie, salad or breakfast.

 

Slice Bell Pepper

Slicing a beautiful bell pepper: No seeds, no bloody fingers

Starting to Slice bell peppers

Bell peppers used to intimidate me. They were not a big deal when pre-sliced. But in their whole (beautiful) state, they made me freeze-up like seeing a beautiful woman.

So beautiful, vibrant, glowing.

But, bell peppers’ still scared me. The seeds, shape and handling were scary.

I learned while creating cashew queso. It’s easy.

With bell peppers:

  • Salads are sexier.
  • Fajitas are tastier.
  • Hummus is more enjoyable to snack on.

What took me to long to figure out how to slice bell peppers?

Steps to slicing a bell pepper

Step 1:

Like carving a pumpkin, but easier. Cut off top in a circular motion.

Like carvinv a pumpkin

Ditch the seedy top.

Peel top back carefully _Slice bell peppers

But be careful. There’s a ton of seeds that can fall off easily.

Closeup of bell peppers seedy top

Step 2:

Like removing a soup can wrapper. Slice once.

Opening red bell pepper like can of soup

Unravel all the way around.

Two half bell peppers

Step 3:

Like trimming the fat. Bell peppers don’t have actual fat. But when opened, they may still have a few seeds or a bit of white flesh. The white flesh is okay to eat. The seeds, not so much.

Trimming white flesh_ Slice bell peppers-6

Step 4:

Like giving it a bath. Remaining seeds fall out instantly.

Bathing pepper to get remaining seeds out.Slice bell peppers-7

Step 5:

Like making fries. Slice the long way. When I make cashew queso, I only cut it into a couple slices. For hummus, I’ll slice into many thin (Britney) spears. [not pictured]

Blood-free bell peppers

Use basic knife skills.

Specifically, the keys to cutting bell peppers are:

  • Small knife.
  • Flexible knife.
  • Non-cutting hand stays behind.

More tips? Post a reply in the comments!

Conclusion

Bell peppers are phenominal raw or cooked. But they’re best without seeds or bloody fingers. Follow the five steps for seedless and cut-free fingers when slicing bell peppers.

Approach bell peppers with confidence.

There’s nothing more delicious and beautiful you can add to food.

Cashews

Why cashews are not too fatty and how to avoid eating them by the handful

Cashews up close-1

Cashews are like the rye chips (Gardetto’s) of trail mix. They’re the first to get eaten in a bag of less-appealing choices.

But, there’s one big difference between cashews and rye chips: Cashews are actually good for you, assuming you get the right ones. Plus, no matter what kind you get, there’s a simple way to avoid eating them by the handful. Let’s get crackin’.

Cashew Nutrition

Here’s what you need to know about cashews how their affect your body.

Raw cashews not that fatty

In their raw form, they aren’t too fatty.

Yes, they’re nuts, so they have some fat.

But relative to other nuts, they have a lot less fat.

Raw cashew fat facts

Here’s a rundown on the “good fat” in raw cashews.

  • Mostly monounsaturated fat (54%).
  • Lost of omega-6 fatty acids (2.2 g / oz).
  • Signifacant portion is polyunsaturated fat (18%).

Bad fat” only makes up 16% of raw cashews. So there is some fat to be concerned about. And, therefore, you should enjoy with some moderation.

But most of the fat in cashews is the good kind — the kind that increases good cholesterol, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, etc.

Raw cashew benefits continued

In their raw form are great in other ways. They:

  • Keep your metabolism going fast (minerals).
  • Protect nerve fiber (copper).
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure (hardly any salt).

And while there are no academic studies, making cashew queso makes you (and your guests) happy. :)

Roasted cashews

Roasted cashews still have many of the same benefits as the raw ones. Good fats, minerals, etc.

The problem with roasted cashews, however, is that they’re:

  • Higher in bad fat (roasted in oil).
  • More salty (salted).
  • More addicting to eat (see previous two).

While the roasted ones aren’t horrible for you, the “roastedness” makes them a lot less beneficial.

Eat less roasted

So, should you avoid cashews because they’re fatty? No way!

Should you eat less of the roasted kind than the raw kind? Yes. Absolutely.

How to avoid eating cashews by the handful

Raw cashews are great for you. Roasted cashews aren’t horrible for you. In moderation, both are a good, healthy snacks. Just remember that the former (raw) is far better than the latter (roasted).

So how the hell do you avoid eating them by the handful?

A tiny bowl

Put ‘em in a tiny bowl. No, not a small bowl. A tiny bowl.

Cashews in tiny bowl

The bowl should only be able to fit one golf ball.

Instead of eating them by the handful, you’ll eat one or two at a time. All it takes is a tiny bowl!

Plus, they make a great dog treat.

Conclusion

Now you can enjoy cashews without worrying about them being too fatty. Take comfort knowing they’re actually good for you, especially raw cashews.

And don’t eat them straight from the bag. Get a tiny bowl and eat your cashews like your Life is NOYOKE.

Chop onion

How to chop an onion without crying like a baby

Chop onion without crying using Vitamix demonstration still

Onions make most food more delicious. Often, onion powder will do the trick. But, there’s something about freshly chopped onions that can’t be beat. That is, assuming they’re served without tears. So how do you chop an onion without crying?

I chop an onion every time I make my buffalo turkey burgers. Every time I make lox omelets. Every time I can. And do I cry? Nope. I chop my onions with ease and without crying.

There are three steps to chopping an onion without crying:

Step 1: Cut off the ends of the onion. No explanation needed here. Just do it.

Step 2: Peel the onion. With the ends chopped off, peeling an onion is easy. Just poke a layer or two with your chef’s knife and the peel comes off in one swoop.

Step 2.5: Cut onion into quarters. This step is optional but makes for more evenly chopped onion.

Step 3: Drop it in your Vitamix.

That’s it!

Follow the simple tips on how t chop an onion in your Vitamix, and you’re done. It’s so simple, yet I somehow managed to screw it up on my first try. See the video below to see what I mean.

Vitamix onion chop

That headline sounds like a song or dance move.

Well, it basically is.

Chopping an onion in your Vitamix is like playing the bass guitar. How?

  • Pulse button: Like plucking the strings. Evenly and rhythmically.
  • Tamper: Like sliding up an down the frets.

Specifically, pulse your Vitamix on low speed 6-10 times. At the same time, use the tamper to push the unchopped pieces to the bottom.

If you do it right, you get perfectly chopped onions. And, they shouldn’t be covered in tears.

If, however, you put your face in the container afterwards, the no-crying part is not guaranteed.

Demonstration

Here’s my demonstration of how to chop an onion without crying. Assumption is that you do not put your face in the Vitamix container right after chopping!

Watch to the end to see me fail, big time.

21 Seasoning Salute

21 Reasons I Love 21 Seasoning Salute

21 Seasoning Salute

Let’s face it. Spices are expensive. And picking the right ones is a crapshoot, especially after a long day of work. Enter Trader Joe’s brand “21 Seasoning Salute.” It’s an all-purpose seasoning that’s good on everything. Plus, there’s zero salt!

So what’s is it?

Basically Onion Powder with a Kick

21 Seasoning Salute is basically onion powder with a kick. But if you’re looking for specifics, here’s are the 21 ingredients inside:

1. Onion.
2-15. “Spices” (black pepper, celery seed, cayenne pepper, parsley, basil, marjoram, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, savory, rosemary, cumin, mustard, coriander).
16. Garlic.
17. Carrot.
18. Orange peel.
19. Tomato granules.
20. Lemon juice powder.
21. Oil of lemon.

Citric acid is also an ingredient but not included in the 21 seasonings.

This little bottle is my go-to seasoning. I love that it’s perfectly NOYOKE:

  • Easy.
  • Healthy.
  • Quick.

Without further ado:

My salute to 21 Seasoning Salute

1. It’s super cheap. It’s only $1.99, people. Compared to all other spices on the shelf, 21 Seasoning Salute is a steal!

2. It’s salt-free. Not that salt is that bad for you. But since it’s salt-free, you are in control. Adding flavor doesn’t require adding more salt.

3. It’s great with anything that’s good with salt. Burgers, eggs, soups, etc. Pretty much anything you’d add salt to is made better with 21 Seasoning Salute.

4. Out-of-this-world eggs. Seriously. Wanna know the secret to making the tastiest scrambled egg whites on the planet? Sprinkle a little 21SS and prepare to be amazed.

5. Homemade dressings made easy. I have a few dressings in my repertoire. But, when I’m just making one up, I use the formula. Extra virgin olive oil, vinegar (balsamic or similar), and a few shakes of 21 Seasoning Salute.

6. Instant grill master status. Sprinkle some of this stuff on your grillables. Not just burgers, but grilled veggies, too. Then, let the compliments roll in.

7. No MSG. Not that it’s prevalent anymore, but it’s good to know.

8. Brings out flavors. Since there are so many seasonings, there is always something that perfectly accentuates the natural flavors of you food.

9. It travels well. Going camping or having a tailgate? Why bring a mess of spices? Salt and 21 Seasoning Salute is all you need.

10. Efficient cooking. Opening up spice jars, sprinkling, and closing ‘em up takes time. With this stuff, it’s one and done.

11. Less cluttered kitchen. Clutter brings stress. Stress brings all sorts of unhealthy eating habits. With 21 Seasoning Salute, my kitchen is much less cluttered. I’m much less stressed. And I’m more likely to make good eating decisions.

12. It’s enhanceable. Salt is not the only thing that enhances 21 Seasoning Salute. Crushing the mix into finer pieces actually unlocks some flavors and releases essential oils.

13. Food looks better. Your foods’ appearance is crucial for ensuring good taste. Why do you think the best chefs are called culinary artists?

14. It’s all natural. Except for a little citric acid, there are no additives in this spice. Just 21 of the best spices.

15. Consistent cooking made easy. Your signature dishes can be good every time you make ‘em. No more complaints about tonight’s batch being a little off.

16. Fresh hands. Adding fresh onions or garlic to your food is great. But what about your hands? Nobody likes onion fingers or garlic nails!

17. Grilled chicken goodness. People gush over my grilled chicken recipe. Here it is: 21 Seasoning Salute, Salt, crushed black pepper, sea salt.

18. Controlled spiciness. Cooking with 21 Seasoning Salute is like having a spiciness dial on the food. Since there is a lot of pepper in it, it doesn’t take long before your food gets a nice kick.

19. Good substitute to Sri Racha or Franks Red Hot. Add 21 Seasoning Salute to the list of stuff you’ll put on anything. It’s that good and that versatile.

20. Better soups. Standard chicken broth is so flavorful with a few shakes of this stuff. But other soups are better with it, too. Nearly all the boxed Trader Joe’s soups have room for a little 21SS.

21. An unforgettable name. Doesn’t it make you want to lineup at Trader Joe’s and literally salute the spice rack? Or, perhaps it conjures an image of 21 guns firing all the 21 spices into the air? Okay, maybe it’s just me.

Conclusion

Go get a $1.99 bottle of 21 Seasoning Salute today. You can thank me tomorrow.

Question: How else do you use 21 Seasoning Salute?

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

It’s also great on a sandwich with some roasted turkey or grilled chicken. You can modify this recipe to any flavor you want. Take out the red peppers and you’ve got plain hummus. Add more garlic, or lemon juice, or olives, or whatever Sabra flavor you like.

Just remember the secret to the smoothest hummus in the world: Whip the tahini first!

Ways to enjoy

Apples and Hummus

Quinoa Casserole (hummus instead of cheese)

Grilled Chicken Pita

Other noteworthy versions

Oh My Veggies: Edamame Hummus

A Beautiful Mess: Cilantro and Ginger Hummus

The Hummusapien: Kalamata White Bean Hummus