Baked Kale Chips

— by Challah Maidel

Gaining in popularity, kale is an amazing vegetable that is recognized for its exceptional richness in nutrients, health benefits, and delicious flavor.

Also known as borecole, kale is believed to be one of the healthiest vegetables around. Generally speaking, eating a variety of natural and unprocessed vegetables has proven to be beneficial to your health, but eating nutrient loaded kale on a regular basis may provide significant health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.

More after the jump.
Kale belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

The health benefits that kale provides are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients. Kale also contains eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds. Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.

Just as addictive and crispy as potato chips, baked kale chips are a low calorie nutritious snack that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy.

Since kale has an acquired taste, I seasoned it with a bit of garlic powder, smokey paprika, chili powder, a drop of turmeric and ground pepper.

Baked Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smokey or sweet paprika
  • 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash the kale and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  3. Pull the leaves off the center ribs in large pieces, and pile on a baking sheet. Discard the ribs.
  4. In a small bowl, mix oil and spices, and pour over the kale.
  5. Use your hands to massage the kale leaves until each one is evenly coated with the spice mixture. Do not drench.  
  6. Lay the kale leaves out flat on 3 or 4 full sized baking sheets. Do not overlap.
  7. Bake for 10-11 minutes until crisp, but still green.
  8. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before moving. If some kale chips are still a little flimsy or damp, remove the crisp chips and place the damp chips back in the oven for a few more minutes.
  9. Store in an air-tight container.

Yields 12 servings.

Oven-Baked Falafel

— by Challah Maidel

As soon as I announced that I was going to attempt to make oven-baked falafel, I was inundated with requests to publish a recipe. Falafel is a favorite Middle Eastern dish, especially where I live. No matter where you travel to in the Middle East, it is hard to miss a falafel stand on every corner of the street. Around later morning and early noon, you will notice a long line starting to form in front of any falafel vendor you see. For those of you who are not familiar with Middle Eastern food (for better or for worse, I am gradually starting to become more affluent with the culture and food that I am surrounded with), falafel is a deep-fried ball made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, depending on which region you come from. Falafel is usually served in a pita or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze (a selection of small dishes or spreads).

Full recipe after the jump.
Growing up, I never really cared for falafel, until one fond memory completely changed it all. Many eons ago, I was a camp counselor at a sleep-away camp in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. We had a camp chef who’s culinary skills and attitude had yet to be desired. Ironically, the only thing he managed to perfect was falafel balls. In fact, the only thing we looked forward to having for lunch was falafel. Ever since I came here, I never had the stomach to eat falafel anywhere outside of the Middle East. Most food that you eat at restaurants, fast food chains, and even vendor booths can easily be replicated at the comfort of your own kitchen. Making falafel is not as complicated as it looks. If you made vegetarian or even meat patties before, this is not too far off.

As I reiterated before, falafel is traditionally deep fried in oil. I enjoy my falafel, but not when my pita is saturated from the grease. So I looked for a healthier solution and came up with my own rendition after borrowing an oven-baked falafel recipe online. I will provide you with the basic ingredients for this recipe. After that, its entirely up to you to make your falafel any way you desire. Some like to add some extra parsley to give the falafel a green hue. Other may add tumeric. For a bit of spice, you can sprinkle in some chili or cayenne pepper.

For this recipe I used chickpeas, but you can use fava beans or a mixture of both. If you have a short attention span, you can take a shortcut and use canned chickpeas. I used frozen chickpeas because it doesn’t contain nearly as much sodium as the canned goods do. Prior to making the falafel mixture, I sauteed some onions and garlic rather than blending them raw with the chickpeas. Akin to most patties, falafel requires some flour in order to hold all the ingredients together. That way, you can form balls without them falling apart. If you suffer with celiac disease or sensitive to wheat, feel free to use gluten-free flour. You can eat the falafel balls as they are, or serve them in a pita stuffed with salad. Use any of your favorite Middle-Eastern spreads such as hummus or tahini.

Oven Baked Falafel

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of frozen chickpeas
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Follow cooking instructions on the frozen chickpea package.
  2. Drain after chickpeas have been cooked.
  3. In a small oiled skillet, over medium heat, saute onions for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Turn flame off.
  4. Place chickpeas,onions, garlic, and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor. Mix well until you get a thick paste-like consistency.
  5. Form into small balls, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and slightly flatten. Place onto an oiled baking pan.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes on each side, until nicely browned (since it’s baked, only the part actually touching the pan will be browned and crispy).

Yields 15-20 falafel balls.

Challah Maidel is a blog about healthy kosher eating.  

Buckwheat Salad

— by Challah Maidel

Despite its name, buckwheat is not wheat. It’s gluten-free, and it’s safe for people with celiac disease. Buckwheat and wheat are from completely different botanical families. Buckwheat seeds are technically the fruit of a plant called Fagopyrum esculentum. Although buckwheat is not a grain, it is sometimes referred to as a pseudocereal. For processing into food, buckwheat seeds must first be dehulled. The remaining seed material, called groats, can be ground into flour. Roasted groats are known as kasha. Buckwheat is high in protein and B vitamins and rich in phosphorus, potassium, iron, calcium, and lysine. A great source of dietary fiber, buckwheat helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood.

The full recipe after the jump.
Growing up, I remember my grandmother serving buckwheat as a hot side dish along with some whole wheat farfalle (bow tie pasta). Ironically, buckwheat wasn’t exactly on the top of my favorite dishes until I’ve learned about other variations. A lot of people I know tend to serve buckwheat as a side dish, which is fine. I’ve seen buckwheat being eaten as it is. Some people I know would also add some tomato sauce and cheese, or ground beef.

I know that I’m long overdue for a salad recipe. I do think buckwheat would make a great and nutritious addition to salads. I’m sure a lot of you discovered a variety of buckwheat salad recipes. I initially planned to make a buckwheat salad using apples,walnuts, and cinnamon. Instead, I’ve decided to make this salad more savory at the last minute. This salad can be eaten hot or cold. You can use produce outside  of which I provide on this recipe. I don’t like abiding by the letter of the law when it comes to cooking. That is why I tend to create my own variation.

  • 2 cup of buckwheat
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 medium red onion chopped
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 3 plum tomatoes chopped and seeded
  • 1 large ripe avocado pitted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  1. Add 4 cups water for every 2 cups buckwheat. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt in the water,
  2. bring it to a boil for a couple of minutes, then turn down to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Buckwheat is fully cooked when it is dry and fluffy. Do not stir the buckwheat while it is cooking.
  3. Mix together the dressing by whisking the lemon zest and juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil,paprika, oil, salt, and pepper. The pinch salt will bring the oil and vinegar together. Add vegetables to the dressing bowl and toss.
  4. Once the buckwheat is cooked, add it to the bowl. Add parsley, give it one last toss, and serve.

Yields 4 servings.

Challah Maidel is a celebration of Kosher healthy eating.