A big part of maintaining any lifestyle change, especially in the beginning, is finding ways to make the change less strenuous on the lifestyle you already have. We’re Southern, so there are certain things we knew we weren’t going to give up. Mayo on a sandwich, potato salad and “sweet” tea were some of the things we wanted to find healthy options to replace the old, unhealthy ones. These things sound simple, but like yesterday’s post, these are also the things that help you be encouraged and not become discouraged.
I wanted to see if mayo could even be replaced! We used to eat Duke’s mayo on summer tomato sandwiches (we grow our own tomatoes and have for many years…we’ll share our garden here this spring, by the way!) like they were going out of style! Our entire family loved them. When we have summer gatherings, or even a chicken sandwich, mayo was our go-to condiment. There is no summer gathering here without homemade potato salad, people. So, I tricked my family by trying out some vegan mayo, but I didn’t tell them they were eating a vegan product. Turns out, none of the five of them, including my husband, who used to say if it wasn’t Duke’s then it wasn’t really Mayo, had any idea they were eating anything other than the “usual”. It’s called Veganaise and it’s FABULOUS!! You, seriously, cannot tell a difference.
I’m getting ready to say something that may be a sacriledge to being Southern, but I don’t care for sweet tea. I only like hot tea. Some Southerner just fell out of their chair…I’m sorry. My husband thinks it’s the bomb diggity, though. So, the other night he tossed some honey in it and…SURPRISE…he actually liked it better. (I’d have never believed it!) We buy raw, organic honey already, so this wasn’t a huge change for us, but I thought those of you out there who are simply trying to eat better might consider it. Side note: The raw, organic honey is MUCH sweeter than the store bought junk, so you don’t need as much. He sweetened the entire tea pitcher, not just a cup at a time and it was really great. I even tolerated it.
Now for some Kale chip love. There are secrets to kale chips that veteran vegans should be sharing! A girlfriend who’s vegan had already shared that they’ll stink up your house. That was kind. They smell like butt is cooking in your oven. They’re worth it. Next, do NOT overcook them. Listen to me: Do. Not. Over. Cook. Them. They become super bitter! (ask yourself how I know that) Then, don’t burn them twice because then you become bitter. (ask yourself how I know that)
Kale starts like this. Isn’t it kind of pretty?
Preheat the oven to 350. Remove the leaves from that long rib in the center. They should look like this:
Then get this stuff together: (simplest thing EVER)
Then coat the kale leaves with two or three tablespoons of olive oil. Just dump the oil in the bowl and toss the kale with your hands to coat them well. Then use about two to three tablespoons of sea salt in the bowl. The olive oil makes sure it sticks to the leaves. Then, lay them flat, not touching, on a parchment covered baking sheet. (ask yourself how I learned they had to be relatively flat and not touching to crisp correctly!)
Then, toss them in the oven for 6-8 minutes. Six minutes was our magic number for making them perfectly crisp and yummy! I was SO surprised at how great these chips were. I wasn’t expecting them to be that good. My kids ate the entire first plate of them. The leaves should still be green with only slightly “cooked” looking edges for them to be done. Do NOT….do NOT…let them be “brown” all over or they will be burned and gross. It took me three batches to get my timing down correctly for my oven.
I cannot say enough how awesome these things are. They are completely worth the butt smell. I promise. (How often can you say that, right?!)
Finally, my last simple tip came from my friend, Terri. She advised me that as I used veggies throughout the week to toss them into a large container in my fridge and save them to make veggie broth of my own. I’ve always made my own chicken broth, so veggie broth shouldn’t be that big of a stretch. Every time I chop a veggie, I’m saving the leftovers in my fridge to make my first batch of veggie broth this coming weekend. This include celery leaves, broccoli stalks, carrot ends, etc… I’ll share it as soon as I can. (And I’m sharing the vegan “sausage and egg” with onion and peppers topped with homemade salsa breakfast burritos sometime this week, too. They were so incredibly good that my kids ASKED for them this morning!! Awesome! Plus, they FREEZE!!!)