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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Lunchbox Salad Recipe

Hello everyone! For those who follow me on Instagram (@wellnessandwelldrinks) you know that I eat dinner at work. Lately, people have been asking me how I do this, especially because I do not have a fridge or microwave (I work at a dance studio if that makes more sense), so I am limited to options. I also do not like to wait to eat until I get home (around 9-9:30pm) because I go to bed early. If I eat right before bed, I tend to get a stomach ache and my body doesn’t get the proper chance to continue to burn calories. So, I try to eat my dinner between 5pm and 6:30pm because that is what is best for me.

What do I bring for dinner? Well, I am a huge fan of kale (as we all probably know by now) so I like to bring a kale salad. For this post, I am going to break down the recipe I most use piece by piece, but I will also offer replacements to create different flavors of salads (thats how I avoid getting bored with it!) Read below for the recipe!

Lunchbox Salad Recipe

This recipe is going to be written a bit differently than my usual recipes. I’m going to go step by step and show you how I build my salad.

  1. Kale. About 2 cups, chopped. Remember to always wash and dry your kale IMG_5411
    before using it. Lately, mine has had dirt still on it, which I don’t want to eat. Not to mention your kale was sitting in a store or the farmer’s market where others possibly touched it or something else did. Wash away all possible impurities or contaminants! I do not like buy prepackaged kale because I don’t typically eat the steams when it’s raw. So, I prefer to cut my own. But please do whatever is best for you! This is my preference, but if you like eating kale your way, do so! You are still eating kale after all!
  2. Basil. About 1/2 cup, chopped. I love fresh herbs. I IMG_5412like to chopped them up and add them to my salad because I think it adds more flavor. This is a great tip for those of you who aren’t kale lovers like I am. It will give you a different flavor and allow you to still eat kale, but with ease. Basil also has great nutritional value as well. It is not just for pizza or pasta! Put your chopped basil in your container with your kale and mix it around a bit!
  3. Avocado. 1 medium, cubed as best as you can! Avocados will always be one of my IMG_5413
    favorite foods. I love how they add healthy fats, add a creamy texture, and make my tastebuds soar from bliss. As a Californian, they are a staple to my life. Dramatic? Maybe a little. Delicious? Absolutely. Try squeezing a bit of lemon or lime juice on top to avoid having brown avocados in your salad. If needed, season your avocado pieces with salt and pepper.
  4. Quinoa. 1/4 cup, fully cooked and cooled. A healthy alternative to rice, and surprisingly a delicious addition to salads. I do not eat too IMG_5416
    many carbs, mainly because I am gluten-free and a majority of gluten-free products are even higher in carbs (not even the healthy kind). However, quinoa offers more than just a health carb option, it also contains protein and makes your salad a bit hardier. Vegetables can be filling on their own, but there is nothing wrong with adding a carb to your salad, especially if it is a meal. Plus, eating quinoa is better than croutons or those yummy, but greasy tortilla crisps.
  5. Chicken. 3/4 cup, chopped and cooled. Or 1 breast. I love chicken breast; it is so img_5417.jpgversatile, low in calories, and has so much protein. I personally do not eat a “full breast”. I take the chicken breast and cut it in half to make 2 thin breasts. I started doing this in college to make my chicken last longer, but also because it cooks so much faster! Less than 5 minutes on each side which is great for my busy lifestyle. My chicken marinated in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper before I cooked it in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. This adds flavor without too much added sodium.
  6. Dressing. I like to make my own dressings, just so I always know what is going inside of my body. Also, store bought dressing a lot of times has added sugars and carbs. For this salad, I mix 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and cracked pepper. Yum.
  7. Pack and enjoy! Don’t forget your ice pack.

Alternative flavor options:

  • Kale, cilantro, avocado, quinoa, and black beans with a salsa verde dressing
  • Kale, parsly, tomato, quinoa, and chicken with a pesto dressing
  • Kale, dill, avocado, quinoa, and chicken with a honey dijon dressing
  • Kale, mint, watermelon, feta cheese, and onion with a balsamic dressing

Lean Green Machine Salad

I love greens; yes I am serious. I have never had a problem eating my vegetables or finding new ways to consume them. With that being said, I am sure there are many of image1-2you out there who have a hard time with eating vegetables, especially greens. An old coworker of mine hated vegetables so much she only ate them when mixed in smoothies. This only makes me want to create recipes so everyone can try to get their greens in and actually enjoy it! I challenge all of you, lovers or haters, to try this salad out and let me know what you think! I also challenge you to enjoy this salad with an inspiring book, ice water, and if you are lucky like I was, a beautiful blue sky and sunshine. Daily vitamins include Vitamin D!

Lean Green Machine Salad Recipe

This recipe yields about 2 servings. I’m a single gal and like to make enough for 2 meals, but feel free to consume it all at once. No judgment here, just greens. 

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 4 tablespoons of your favorite spicy seasonings (I am using RawSpiceBar’s Shichimi Togarashi spice mix. This includes spices such as black peppercorns, red chili flakes, ginger, white poppy seeds, and black sesame seeds.)
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • 3 cups romaine or butter lettuce, chopped
  • 3 cups kale leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Always marinade your chicken. That is a rule to live by. To do this with spices, start by putting your chicken breast in a ziplock bag. Then add about a tablespoon of olive oil and rub on the chicken until it is coated. Repeat this with your spices, and really take the time to rub those spices in. Zip up your bag and place it in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. You will not be disappointed with how much more flavor your chicken will have.
  2. Cook your chicken on a non-stick skillet on medium high heat for about 5 minutes on each side, depending on your stove and pans. Let your chicken rest for 2 minutes  before dicing and place in the fridge to cool.
  3. Take your broccoli and snow peas and put them in a microwavable bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water and put in the microwave to steam. I put a small plate on top of my bowl to ensure the steaming process will happen quicker, but this is up to you. Steam your vegetables for about 2 minutes so they still have a crunch. Drain and store in the fridge to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, combine lettuce and kale. I used butter lettuce because I like how sweet it is compared to the bitterness of the kale. I highly recommend butter lettuce to those who are not huge lettuce fans. It is softer and has less of a “green” flavor while still having plenty of vitamins. For an added crunch and flavor, I also combined green onions to my salad base. The more greens, the better!
  5. To make a simple homemade dressing, combine lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, pepper, and garlic in a jar or container with a lid. With the lid on, shake the dressing vigorously for 15 seconds. Boom, simple, yet delicious, salad dressing. The acid from the lemon will also give a boost of flavor to the bitter kale. Always balance vegetable flavors for a better dining experience.
  6. Pour about half of your dressing over your salad base and mix well. Store leftover dressing in the refrigerator to use in another recipe. Top your salad with your chilled chicken, broccoli, and snow peas. Serve with an extra lemon half if you want  added flavor.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes:

Click here to learn more about RawSpiceBar!