Best Raw Vegan “Cheesy” Kale Chip Recipe

Thanks for coming by! I haven’t posted to this blog in exactly a year thanks to my crazy life as a working mommy and now bona fide health warrior (more to come on this…I invite you to subscribe to my blog using the box to the right). I’m an avid Facebook junkie user and have gotten a multitude of requests for my kale chip recipe there; especially since posting videos of my little guys helping me make them.

A few things to know first:

  1. I have only made kale chips in a dehydrator. I’ve heard from others who have made them in the oven on the lowest temperature for 15 minutes, but it sounds like they can burn very easily if you don’t watch them like a hawk. For those who understand the value of raw foods, the dehydrator is the way to go.
  2. I like to make them with a raw vegan sauce. If you’re not into that sort of food already, don’t let the term scare you away…I’m not a raw vegan and think it’s super-tasty! However, you can make them more simply by skipping the sauce and drizzling them with oil (olive or melted coconut) and Himalayan or sea salt (just please never use processed table salt!) before dehydrating. That does create a whole different experience, though.
  3. The recipe is for the quantity I use to fill about 5 trays in the dehydrator – you need to have space between the trays. Mine has 10-trays – if you have a smaller dehydrator, you’ll want to reduce ingredient quantities accordingly.
  4. The sauce from this recipe also makes a great veggie dip or spread for a wrap sandwich. The yield here is about 5 cups of sauce.
  5. If you do not have a 14-cup food processor or high speed blender, you can probably make the sauce in a standard blender by adding some water when blending, but beware that I have not tried that.
  6. I use all organic ingredients. That is obviously optional but HIGHLY recommended.

So here’s the recipe:

  • 2 large bunches of curly, green kale
  • 2 cup raw sunflower seeds preferably sprouted (cashews can be substituted, soak for 2 hours)
  • 4 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 5 full-size carrots chopped but not peeled (Not “baby” carrots – even the organic ones are dipped in chlorine as a preservative.)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (you can find this at a health food grocer – gives the sauce coating it’s cheesy flavor)
  • 2 tsp sea salt or Himalayan pink crystal salt

Prep: Soak cashews. Clean all veggies well! Remove kale leaves from fibrous stems. (Stems can be saved for juicing.)

Spin dry kale leaves if you have a salad spinner and set aside in an extra large bowl. Add all other ingredients to Vitamix (or other high-speed blender) or 14- cup food processor and puree to the most liquid consistency possible. Pour mixture onto kale leaves, toss, and massage into leaves with your hands. When thoroughly coated, transfer onto dehydrator trays lined with unbleached parchment paper or just bunch them on the dehydrator screens. (Remove a rack in between). Dehydrate at 118°. After a few hours, flip chips and turn the racks 180 degrees. They’re done after 12 hours, depending on how you lay them on the screens. The key is to leave them in until they are crispy – if they are at all soggy, they are not done!

My sauce recipe was inspired by OC raw foods chef Raya Belna. You can buy packaged raw Alive and Radiant kale chips with similar ingredients at Mother’s Market or other health food grocers, but they cost about $6 per 2oz bag (not to mention that I think mine are even tastier! 😉

You are invited to toy with the recipe by changing and adding other veggies like garlic, onion, etc. In fact, I alter ingredients all the time (evidenced by the rogue celery in the photo of the processor full of ingredients above), but be sure to come back and post a comment with your changes if it comes out awesome, okay??

Note for the moms: My 2 year old wouldn’t touch these for months and now loves them. My friend’s adorable little toddler loved them the first time he tasted. If at first your kids turn up their noses, promise that you’ll ‘try, try again’, okay?? Keep offering foods nonchalantly to make them become more comfortable and familiar. If you’re looking for more tips on how to get your kids to eat real food, be sure to check out the Moms In Charge online forum.

Posted in Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Natural/Organic/Non-Toxic, Raw, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

True Mommy Confession #1: I Bottle-Feed my Toddler

Update 9/30/2011

My little guy is actually still using bottles, but we put organic unsweetened coconut milk in them (instead of pasteurized whole milk).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May 4, 2011

So, there is a whole list of American Association of Pediatrics recommendations for babies and toddlers: put baby on back to sleep in the crib with no sleep props, introduce sippy cup around 6 months, wean them from the bottle at 12 months, etc.

As my younger son approached 12 months old back in January, I began mentally preparing for the impending transition from bottle to sippy cup. We had already weaned completely from breastfeeding at 10 months, and I was so sure his doctor would instruct me to ditch the bottle at his next check-up.

I’d already been letting him experiment with the cup for a few months, and although he drank water from it just fine, it had become pretty clear he was one of those babies that decided he will only drink milk when it comes out of a bottle. This was a bit strange for me coming from an exclusively breast fed newborn who basically refused to take a bottle of any sort until he was 6 months old.

However, at baby’s 12 month check-up, the doctor informed me that he had begun to fall off the growth chart over the last two visits. You certainly couldn’t tell it to look at him with his chunky little legs and arms, but those plotted points don’t lie.

Doctor’s surprising remedy was for me to continue to bottle feed him between meals a minimum of 24 oz of whole milk daily. “What??”, I thought. “Doesn’t every expert say to reduce the amount of milk in favor of food after the 12 month mark?” But, I kept my mouth shut and followed doctor’s orders.

At 13 months, I thought for sure this bottle-feeding thing should be over with. I called the doctor and questioned her on exactly how long this was supposed to go on; expressing my concern about him getting too attached to the bottle. “Well, I’m concerned about him getting nourished!” she replied, “We can make the bottle disappear at any time. If he refuses milk in a cup, continue with the bottle until his 15 month check-up.” Hmm…okay.

Since then I’ve been just loving the excuse to get my busy little toddler to sit still with me throughout the day. I remember well that the moment my now-3-year-old ended his bottle relationship was also the end of cuddle-time as I once knew it. And it is possible that this will be my last experience with a baby of my own. So, for now, I am relishing the feel of his cuddly little shape tucked into that spot where he fits so perfectly – between me and my left arm – my head against his forehead.

Admittedly, despite the fact that I’ve been instructed to continue with the bottles, it hasn’t been entirely easy to carry on with this in public. However, the few times I was slightly uncomfortable about what that mom at the park might think, I was instead approached me with, “I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one who is still giving my 1 year old a bottle!” 😉

And at the risk of being criticized by any hard-core breastfeeding proponents out there, I must say that although some aspects of my past exclusive breastfeeding experience were far superior, the bottle phase has also been thoroughly enjoyable since it comes with the refreshing feeling of freedom that other caregivers can feed him too – we don’t need to be together every hungry moment anymore.

So, his 15 month check up is coming up and I imagine that the doctor’s going to tell me to stop with the bottles. Of course I’ll be both happy and sad to move onto that next phase of baby growing up, but at least I enjoyed it while it lasted. 🙂

Posted in Motherhood | 2 Comments

Privacy Risk: Uploading Photos of your Children from Smartphones

I know a few moms that flat out refuse to post any photos of their children online. I am not of that camp, but I am all about being educated on relevant technology so that I’m not doing something foolish or unsafe. So here’s my tip for the day: If you upload photos of your children using a smartphone, be sure to disengage GPS. Check out this video for details…

Posted in Motherhood, Safety | Leave a comment

Camp Safari at The Irvine Spectrum Video Review

UPDATE:

The Irvine Spectrum Camp Safari location has closed!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By now, many of the Orange County Moms have spotted the new jungle-themed Camp Safari storefront outside Target at the Irvine Spectrum and may have wondered, “What exactly is that place?”

If you ventured inside back when the store opened in November, you’ll find that they’ve made some major changes since.

I brought my three and one year old boys there to investigate and, naturally, test the boundaries of this experience. Verdict: cute concept for young children… especially intriguing for those bug-lovin’ little boys.

You can find my detailed review below, but first check out this video for an explanation from the store owner. (Watch for my 1 year old signing for a bottle at the end. LOL!)

Designed for ages three and up, Camp Safari provides your little explorer with a “capture cage” (small acrylic container with lid) to move through three different areas: bug barn, tide pool, “dino-shore” and collect as many bugs, mini dinosaurs, or sea life they can fit into their container. The container can be decorated with foam stickers available in the Bug Barn.

There’s also a little gazebo area where “butterflies” (colorful boa feathers) shoot out of a vent and float down for kids to collect in a net. Each child ends their stay with a ride on one of four mechanical animals.

When not hosting a private party, they are open to the public. Their website doesn’t actually indicate the store hours of 11am-9pm M-Thr, 11am-10pm Fri/Sat, 11am-8pm Sun or the non-party rate of $9.99 for each capture cage.

Toddlers are welcomed into the “Explore and Discover” zone with a supervising parent (since the whole place is necessarily wrought with choke-able material). Ages three and up can wander around the gated area on their own.

There is no doubt that this place is small and a little rough around the edges, but you’ll care about that more than your little ones will. Although admission allows you to stay from open to close, with the current set-up, expect to be finished up within an hour – this was perfect for my three year old, but your older ones might find it a little lacking.

The 500-pound robotic elephant, camel, giraffe and zebra are admittedly a little kooky, but the kids do get a kick out of them. There is no bathroom in the store, but one of the mall restrooms is only a few stores down.

Your kids are bound to notice that some of the items in the exploring area that are too large to fit in their container are available for purchase in the retail area at the front of the store…so get your “no” face on at the exit. 😉

The owner did share several ideas for plans to improve on current exhibits (i.e., adding educational info to displayed items) and to change things up periodically to keep it fresh for return visitors. He loves to hear feedback, so if you get to meet Shane, don’t be afraid to tell him what you think.

This store also runs the trackless train you’ve surely seen toting kids around the Spectrum sidewalks. They also have an Explorer Mini Hummer they use for parties – if you ask very nicely, maybe he’ll take you and your kids out back to see it.

Have you been to Camp Safari? What was your child’s experience? (Don’t forget to share kids ages.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Orange County, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cost vs. Benefit

Since becoming a mom, I have much higher motivation to make all-natural, organic, non-toxic and price-conscious choices in all aspects of my life. However, like most other moms, I’m also constantly racking my brain to best manage the balancing act between the number of hours in the day and my lengthy to-do list.

Upon the arrival of baby number two in January and the ensuing weeks of operating in survival mode, I have come to accept the reality that I no longer have the luxury of researching every topic extensively. I no longer always make the “greenest” choice even when I know what that is. And, at least temporarily, I can no longer guilt myself over every penny spent that wasn’t absolutely necessary.

There was a time I would read countless reviews, articles and blogs to compare products. Now, I post questions on Facebook or my favorite mommy social networking message boards to access the knowledge of friends who have already done that research.

There was a time when I would never run the dishwasher unless it was completely full. Now, I run it at the end of the night regardless of contents unless I consciously decide I’m okay with dirty dishes cascading off the counter tops the next day.

I used to judge moms that would hire any sort of help in their home when they weren’t working full time. (Ha! Shows how much I knew!) I now recognize the value in identifying the best use of my time rather than anxiously scurrying around trying to do it all – there truly are some things that just aren’t worth doing yourself at certain times in your life, and you have to decide what those are within the context of your own finances. Since baby #2, I have a housecleaning service come biweekly and pay the equivalent of a car payment for a local health club membership because it includes three hours of child care per day. If money gets tight, cable TV will go long before either of those.

For me, these types of changes help relieve some of the sense of chaos that can invade any home with small children. That absolutely affects an increase in patience level with my children. And if there’s one thing a parent of a 3 year old needs, it’s patience.

What major or unthinkable changes did you find yourself making after becoming a parent (especially for the second and consecutive times)?

Posted in Motherhood | 3 Comments

My Review of Eco-Friendly Baby Diapers

Originally submitted at Diapers.com

 

NATURE BABYCARE – Eco-Friendly Baby Diapers

Nature babycare, the award winning ECO diaper – A proven success in Europe and now available in North America!

Nature babycare diapers are 100% chlorine-free and keep oil-based plastics away from…

 

Sizing Issue

By OC Mama from Aliso Viejo, on 5/12/2010

 

 

3out of 5

Pros: Biodegradable

Cons: Poor Fit, Stiff

Best Uses: Infants

Describe Yourself: Parent of Two or More Children

I actually can not yet comment on the performance of these diapers because the size 2 I purchased was too small to fit my 15 pound baby even though they say they fit up to 18 pounds. He is definitely on the thicker side – I’ll try the larger diapers in the hopes that they fit. They are quite stiff – I’m willing to make some sacrifices to use a more natural diaper, but baby’s comfort ranks pretty high as well.

(legalese)

Posted in Natural/Organic/Non-Toxic, Reviews | Tagged | 2 Comments

Most Difficult Job

Becoming a mom is unquestionably one of the best things to happen in my life. It is definitely the most insanely difficult thing I’ve experienced, but I’ve had enough successes to make it feel like a huge accomplishment. I mess up routinely, have had many regrets, and have had many, many moments I did not enjoy, but there is no doubt this process is refining my character by forcing me to have more patience, become less selfish and more creative.

I read this comment from a friend awhile back, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a parent it’s this: It’s always your fault. Whether you’re tired and cranky or they are, it’s all your fault.” Okay, so I don’t care for that wording because it makes parenting sound like horrid drudgery, but the concept is pretty much right-on. It’s so easy to blame kids for all bad behavior when the fact is that we need to position them for success by parenting responsibly to begin with. I find that I’m so much happier when I remain conscious of the simple fact that I signed up for this parenting thing…because, in the off chance that you weren’t already aware, there really isn’t anything about kids that is convenient. 😉

No matter what my job or identity was prior to becoming a parent, my ‘job’ now is raising this child lovingly and responsibly.

The hardest part at the moment is coping with the frustration of unwelcome behavior and staying committed to correcting it constructively. But then there’s always that biggest and best part…the unbelievably overwhelming joy and love you get to share in. I wouldn’t give that up for any amount of ‘me time’ I could possibly be promised, and I have yet to meet a mom who wouldn’t agree.

Posted in Motherhood | 1 Comment