Cheesy Kale Chips (Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

IMG_6423If you follow my blog or Instagram (@wellnessandwelldrinks) you know my absolute obsession with kale. It is honestly one of my favorite foods. So, it should be no surprise that I am bringing you another kale recipe! Yes, I fully believe one day I will turn green, and no I am never going to end the positive relationship kale and I have.

I’ve been making kale chips for years. In college, I wanted to find an alternative to carb filled chips, so I found random vegetable chips, one being kale chips. I first tried the version Trader Joe’s sells and although I love them, I knew I could easily make my own version for less than $4 a bag. So I started making kale chips of all flavors; ranch, sea salt, cracked pepper, taco, spicy buffalo…you name it! But something I couldn’t figure out was how to make a delicious cheesy version. Sure, I tried powdered cheese, but that stuff is not the best for your body. My recent dietary needs call for natural, less processed foods. Then I remembered an ingredient I recently started incorporating into my life…nutritional yeast.

If you remember, I used nutritional yeast in my Creamy Vegan Alfredo Sauce. I will go ahead and paste my excerpt about nutritional yeast again here:

“Nutritional yeast is actually made from an organism that grows on cane and beet IMG_6182molasses which is then harvested and dried to deactivate the yeast. Sounds super unappealing right? I thought so too, until I found out some of the benefits. First of all, nutritional yeast is full of B vitamins, especially B6 and B12. It also helps improve digestion and contains both protein (up to 6 grams per serving) and thiamine, so yes, this can potentially aid in weight-loss. Not to mention, it has antiviral and antibacterial powers so, hello immune system booster! It is way lower calories than cheese, not to mention has no fat, sugar, or added ingredients. Nutritional yeast adds a nutty cheese flavor to all your dishes. I first tried it on some popcorn and wow, it tasted just like parmesan cheese! I am still an avid cheese consumer (it makes wine nights that much better!) but I think it is important to find ways to lessen the amount of dairy I eat, and expose that to others as well. Many stores selling nutritional yeast, but I like to buy mine at Trader Joe’s and Sprout’s.”

My idea came from adding it to popcorn (again, if you haven’t tried that yet, it’s so tasty!) I knew nutritional yeast adds a great cheesy flavor, and now I know that when it’s baked, it becomes even cheesier! Follow my recipe below for a healthy, beneficial snack that will have you shocked at simple it is to make (and consume the entire batch within one sitting…) But hey, it is KALE after all (;

Cheesy Kale Chips Recipe

This recipe yields about 3-4 cups of kale chips when cooked. Honestly, this is one of those recipes you can add more or less seasoning to based on preference. It is easily customizable!

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped and steams removed
  • 4-5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 °F. Line a cookie sheet with foil.
  2. In a bowl, mix together kale, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and spices. I like to use a container with a lid so I can just shake it all together.
  3. Spread the kale out on your cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes depending on your crunch preference. I like mine to be crunchy but not burn so I cook for about 12 minutes.
  5. Store extras in an air tight container. Enjoy a portion or all at once (;
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Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Pesto (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

IMG_6032That’s right folks, this meal is not only just gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and full of greens…but it is completely vegan! I like to have one day a week where I am fully vegetarian, and today I had a craving for a creamy pesto pasta. So, as usual, I brainstormed how to stuff as much whole, natural goodness as I could in one dish! Thus, my avocado pesto sauce was born and tossed with perfectly cooked spaghetti squash.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how much I love spaghetti squash. I have a recipe for spaghetti squash with a meaty sauce (for days I am craving more protein than usual), but I am determined to create even more ways to enjoy this pasta substitute! Cooking spaghetti squash is simple and can easily be done while doing other things. For example, I popped my squash in the oven and did some chores…okay I put my dirty clothes from this weekend in the hamper…and I did a hair mask! It’s great because unlike regular pasta, you do not have to babysit it! I personally cook mine in the oven, but I used to cook it in my crock pot, and I’ve heard it’s even easier in an instant pot!

Now, if you aren’t a squash fan, you can always use this pesto in another way! Try it on chicken, regular pasta, as a veggie dip, or even in a salad! The possibilities are endless! What I love the most about it is how creamy the avocado makes the sauce. I used to think you had to use pine nuts or cream of some sort…but I proved that theory wrong. Plus, avocados are extremely good for you, and don’t worry, you don’t taste it with all the basil, garlic, and parsley inside!

Like I’ve stated before on my blog, spaghetti squash is high in fiber, vitamin B, potassium, and omega-3 fats. It also contains the essential minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. All of these benefits can help aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol, and help regulate your blood sugar. Bring in my pesto sauce, and you’re getting healthy fats, immune fighting herbs, and plenty of fiber! It’s all around a win-win!

Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Pesto (Vegan and Gluten-Free) Recipe

This recipe includes how to prepare a whole spaghetti squash, so there will be enough for leftovers. As for the pesto, I made enough for one meal, so please feel free to double or triple to fulfill your needs!

Ingredients

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (optional; this time I did not add extra!)

Pesto Sauce

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • Optional add ins: 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper and/or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Directions

  1. Start by cooking the spaghetti squash. To do this, preheat your oven to 450 ℉. IMG_6030Pierce your squash with a fork so it can steam. Put your squash on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. This allows the squash to soften making it easier to cut. Cut the squash in half (I cut mine long ways, but the choice is yours) and remove all seeds. Evenly distribute olive oil and seasoning on the squash. Place the halves back on the baking sheet with the inside facing down. This helps the squash steam and not burn. Cook for about 15-20 more minutes. Take out of the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes before trying to touch. With a fork, carefully scrape your squash and create long strings.
  2. For the pesto sauce, start by softening your kale and parsley. This will help make IMG_6031them blend a little easier! I chop them, add them to boiling water for about 2 minutes, and then shock them. “Shocking” vegetables is a trick my father taught me. It keeps them looking bright and colorful because it stops the cooking. To shock vegetables after cooking, pour them straight into a bowl with cold water and ice. This is an extra step, but I am an extra person and like my pesto to be GREEN! Note that I do not do this to the basil. I want the basil to be the prominent flavor, so I don’t cook out any flavor.
  3. Next, combine all your herbs, kale, avocado, garlic, water, olive oil, and spices/flavors in a blender. Sometimes my blender acts like there is not enough liquid, so I add a couple more tablespoons of water until the pesto comes out smooth!
  4. In a bowl, or in the squash rind (save a dish!), portion yourself a serving of spaghetti squash (I eat about 1 1/2 cups at a time) and mix in your pesto sauce.
  5. Indulge in this healthy, vegan dish!

Green Monster Pizza

IMG_5750Finally, I am back to getting some time for recipe testing. The past few weeks have been very busy, but I am glad to be writing again. I will have a lot more content soon. My recipe today was inspired by my love and wanting for pizza, but not wanting something greasy or loaded with cheese. I am trying to be really good to my body for wellness and health reasons, but I do not deprive myself. I am traveling this weekend, so I know there will be plenty of times to indulge then, so I did not want to indulge today. I was pretty excited with the outcome of this pizza, and shocked that it fulfilled my craving and that I got so many nutrients in! Also, this pizza traveled well (I had it for dinner at work and it held together great!)

You might be questioning the recipe when looking at the ingredients. There are no tomatoes, no pepperoni, and a lot of greens! As my wonderful friend Ryan would say, this pizza is on the Emilee diet (putting kale in EVERYTHING!) So what did I do to make it taste more like pizza and less like salad on bread? I incorporated some of my favorite pizza flavors, olives, basil, and crushed red pepper. This gave me some pizza flavor without overloading on greasy or unhealthy toppings. Not that tomatoes are unhealthy, but they are higher in sugar, carbs and acid. I also wanted to experiment with a sauce different than the usual pizza sauce…and wow, I am glad I did!

Green Monster Pizza Recipe

This recipe yields enough ingredients for one 8-inch pizza. You can adjust for your pizza size needs! I also want to note, you can use any kind of dough that you please. Mine is a frozen, corn-based crust because I am gluten-free, but you can choose your own crust adventure (maybe zucchini crust for even more greens!!)

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 medium ripe avocado
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1/2 cup your favorite herb (I used basil, but parsley would work great too!)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Toppings

  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a fiesta blend because it’s what I had, but any cheese works great, including vegan!)
  • 1/2 cup steamed broccoli
  • 1/2 cup steamed kale
  • 1/4 various bell peppers, steamed and sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives
  • Drizzle of olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to the appropriate temperature for your pizza crust. Mine was 425 °F, but times will vary.
  2. Place your crust on parchment paper on a baking sheet. This calls for easy clean up!
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine sauce ingredients. The water will help the kale and herbs get incorporated with the avocado.
  4. Spread your sauce all over your pizza crust.
  5. Time to add your cheese! Sprinkle the desired amount (I won’t judge you if 3/4 cup is not enough!)
  6. Next, take your steamed broccoli and kale and arrange on the pizza.
  7. Now comes for those bell pepper slices and black olives.
  8. Drizzle with olive oil for an extra crispness on the veggies.
  9. Cook to the time recommended for your crust. Mine was 12-15 minutes.
  10. Take your pizza out of the oven and let sit for 2-5 minutes.
  11. Enjoy!!