Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Something Healthy For The Holidays: Crispy Kale!

I am grudgingly saying that I have a new favorite veggie. And it's only because it's crunchy, salty and so good for you. Crispy Kale Chips! I actually think I had been biased for all these years by an episode of "Cheers", where Woody ("Veggie-Boyd")  had to do a commercial extolling the benefits of kale. (Watch it here)

Kale is really rich in beta carotene, calcium, lutein, Vitamin K and Vitamin C.
Wishing all my American brethren a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy.

Recipe: Crispy Kale.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes


1 Head of Kale
1 Tablespoon Good Olive Oil
Sparing use of some nice seasoning salt. (I like stuff from The Spice and Tea Exchange)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F, and line TWO cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Tear leaves from stems of the kae into large bite sized pieces. (they will shrink, so keep them on the larger size). I find the easiest way to do this is break the "branch" at the base of the stem, then tear the leaves from each side of the stem. Thinner stems are fine to leave intact. The thicker portion tastes a bit to gnarly.

Throw all the leaves into a large bowl, wash and pat completely dry.

Once the leaves are dry, pour the oil over, and massage it completely over every inch of the leaves. This will ensure even crispiness and maximum enjoyment.

Lay the kale leaves onto the cookie sheets, and try not to overlap, so that all the kale will crisp up.
Sprinkle your seasoning (can sub in whatever you like, but I like the simpleness of just good salt).

Bake for about 10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.

NB. From about 8 minutes onward, watch them closely, looking for the edges to just get brown. The difference between glorious crispness, and awful burnt bitter kale is not far!

Let me know whether kale is a favorite of yours, and how else you prepare and enjoy it!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Controlling Holiday Weight Gain

It's the most wonderful time of year. American Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Hanukka, Kwanzaa; you name it, there's a reason to celebrate.
All well and good, but controlling ballooning weight gain this time of year can be awfully hard. Extra parties at work, with friends, with relatives add up quickly. Tempting treats, big dinners, excessive drinking are hundreds, if not thousands of extra calories you weren't taking in several months ago.
To make matters worse, the schedules get tighter, the weather is colder, the daylight hours are shorter, so the opportunity to burn off some of the excesses also decreases. Bad combination. Here are a few ideas to still enjoy, but control the extra pounds.

1. Have A Plan.
Absolutely critical. Know what type of party it is. Sit down meal, just appetizers, alcohol, desserts. Whatever you do, don't "bank" calories. What I mean by this, is don't starve yourself all day in preparation for eating "just a little extra" at the party. It WON'T work. Doing this generally leads to disinhibition at the event, with your brain telling you to gorge on high calories foods, because you have given it the signal all day that you are in starvation mode. Continue your usual routine through the day eating small healthy meals, and in fact, it often is worthwhile having a small snack just prior to going out.

2. Get A "Lay Of The Land".
When you arrive, don't reach for the first thing you see to eat or drink. Instead, take a minute to socialize, and look around and see what is being offered. Choose one or two things you'd like to try - I usually pick things that are special (that I can't normally get), seasonal, or just plain amazing. You don't have to "ban" any particular food - just stay in control and set a limit before you start.

3. Mix Drinks
This is an area a lot of people still have trouble with. Fluids tend not to make you feel full, and holiday drinks are calorie bombs. Egg nog, punch, hot chocolate, hot cider, can all be high in calories and fat, and only make you crave more. Alcoholic drinks are also high in empty calories and can disinhibit you from controlling the urge to shovel in high fat foods to absorb some of their effects.
Try an limit alcoholic drinks to 2-3 per party, and alternate with water or lighter drink.

One Final Note. Don't make the mistake in saying to yourself that "It's OK- I exercised today". No one can possibly exercise enough to burn off the calories you can pop in your mouth in mere minutes. It's important to  continue to exercise regularly, but don't get in the mindset that this gives you free reign to go crazy at the party tonight.

Enjoy the holiday season! Just don't let all your hard work keeping fit through the summer and autumn go to waste.

Let me know what other strategies you use to get through the holidays!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Vitamix Blender : A Guy's Tool And A New Recipe

I recently got a new Vitamix Blender. Given that I already own a stick blender, and a decent mixer, I never would have purchased one, but, while looking through my Air Miles reward options the other day, I came upon the Vitamix. On a whim, I clicked OK, and received the new blender about a week later (really impressive shipping time, Air Miles!)

Being a guy, I was naturally sucked in by it's car-like features. "Powerful 2-Peak Horsepower Motor" that propels the blade tip "to speeds up to 240 miles per hour"! It had a "Radial cooling fan and thermal protection system". The blades are "laser-cut, stainless steel hammermill". The 64 ounce container is "BPA free Eastmann Triton Copolyester". (Not sure what that means, exactly, but it sounds so damn good.)
I swear, it sounded like I was getting a new car, so I do hand it to whoever does the marketing for these guys. And I was getting for "free"!

Anyway, I am impressed with how well it blends everything, from ice, to frozen fruit, to hard vegetables, to nuts, to whatever. I would highly endorse one, if you can get over the price. Here's something I made with Liv today, using the blender. You could easily grate the carrots and sub in applesauce if you don't have a high powered monster like this. Enjoy.

Recipe: Carrot and Applesauce Cake (modified from the Vitamix Create Recipes Book)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

1 cup White Whole Wheat Flour (I like King Arthur)
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 Egg Whites
2 apples, quartered ( I just left in the seeds)
2 medium carrots


  • Heat Oven to 350 F and spray Loaf Pan with cooking spray
  • Whisk together flours, sugar, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Pour egg whites, apples and carrots into Vitamix Blender.
  • Crank Blender up to 10 and tamp down ingredients for about 30 seconds to liquify everything.
  • Fold wet ingredients into dry.
  • Pour mixture into loaf pan
  • Bake for about 25 minutes until toothpick inserted into centre comes out cleanly.

We iced ours with a little icing sugar glaze, but it also tastes great on its own.
Let me know how this turns out for you!