Tag Archives: low sodium chips

Take Your Tops Off

I apologize for getting a bit frisky this Friday morning. It’s just that last night I discovered something novel, something exciting, something that even some might call brilliant.

While making a fresh batch of potato leek soup (sweet butter + leek +  potato + blender), I was left with a bunch of hard, green leek tops.

Unless you want some sort of Dr. Seuss-ish soup, it is best to only use the white parts of the leek and put the darker green parts to the side. But right there is the big dilemma. What do you do with the discarded leek parts? Of course, you can always throw them back in the crisper and cross your fingers that you remember to use them within the next two days. But what if you want to use them right then and there?

Luckily, I had already turned the oven to high as I was preparing to make some kale chips for said soup. Ta. Da.

And as I pulled the crispy veggie crunchies from the oven rack, that’s when it hit me:

Leeks. Oven. Chips. Leek Chips!

I decided to prepare them as I would with kale, keeping the oven on at 400 degrees and using olive oil to grease them down. Then I peppered the leek tops with paprika, granulated garlic, and black pepper.

And finally, the leeks were left to frizzle and frazzle for 20-30 minutes in the oven (watch these suckers carefully), and in a blink of an eye, I had a batch of crispy yet luscious leek chips to munch while waiting for the soup to be done.

So there you have it. Something quick and easy to try this weekend and another ingenious way to keep food from going to waste and your belly full.

Chow on.

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Highfalutin and High Flying

If it seems I am a bit punchy this morning, well I think it is because I am drunk with anticipation. I am about to head off to the airport to board one of Virgin America’s swanky 70’s lounge flyers (which always makes you want a cocktail and a disco ball at 7am) and join my friends in Southern California to celebrate a most special day – Miss Davies’ Wedding! Beyond the normal excitement, I will also be acting as the officiant – or the Pope as I like to refer to myself – so I am most definitely filled with the proverbial champagne bubbles and butterflies.

But as I prepare for my weekend getaway, it is equally important that I make sure my suitcase is filled with appropriate, travel-safe, low sodium goodies. No one wants a grouchy master of ceremonies or a tummy that rumbles so loudly that it interrupts the “I Do’s.”

For that reason, I am dedicating this post to the art of traveling on a low sodium diet. I have written on this subject a few times before and as such, have included links to those articles below. But just to kick things off, here’s what I did to prepare for the few days I will be away from my lovely kitchen:

  1. I grabbed myself a bag of Terra No Salt Added Sweet Potato Chips (and took the air out so that it lays flat in my carry-on)
  2. I bought Unsalted Brown Rice Sesame Crackers and threw them in a plastic bag as well
  3. I cooked up some chicken thighs (this is only for the first day of travel so I don’t worry about keeping it cool)
  4. I made my own granola mix with dried cranberries, strawberries, and puffed rice cereal – perfect for breakfast and 911 snacking emergencies
  5. And finally, I packed a little plastic bag of oatmeal. Just add (hot) water. How great is that? If I am really running out of steam, these oats will do the trick in a jiff

Since the bride is one incredible gal, she actually has all my meals taken care of, having sent her caterer a list of my needs. So in reality, I can actually pack quite light for this trip. But it is always good to be prepared. And since I am realistic with myself about my constant need to be eating something, I am sure my efforts will not be wasted.

For more travel tips, be sure to check out the following posts and as always, shoot questions or concerns my way.

Happy Trails: A list of foods you can find at the airport and goodies that easily fit (and don’t spoil) in your bag

On the Road Again: A dear-diary of what I packed in my bag during a week-long, east coast jaunt

Bon Voyage: Advice for when your travels taken you beyond the American border (and when communication may get fishy)

The Dehydrator: When low sodium astronaut food doesn’t exist, make it yourself! This helpful “kitchen” tool enables you to bring your best home-made, low-sodium meals with you anywhere you go – the woods, the outback, and probably even space.

Big Food, Small People: A slightly strange but successful solution to low sodium grub when your resources are limited

With that, please put up your tray table and fasten your seat belts. It’s time to kick off this wedding celebration and as always, chow on! Happy weekend to you all.

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Filed under tips & tricks, traveling

All Sunchoked Up

There are certain foods that are in your cooking comfort zone – tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, even eggplant to a degree.  Then there are others which you know taste good – they said so on Top Chef – but are so alien to you, that any time you see them in the grocery store, you hurry past and hope they didn’t see you coming.  Sunchokes are one of those foods.

I most commonly have heard of sunchokes as the base of a creamy, wintery soup for which people hmm and haw over its delicate taste.  As a relative of the sunflower, sunchokes have a taste more akin to the artichoke and a shape that resembles bulbs of ginger.

I’ll tell you what made me most nervous about this vegetable – I had no idea how I was going to peel the little sucker.  With all its curves and pointy nubs, it seemed like it would take hours just to prep two handfuls of them, which didn’t seem worth it.  Sorry sunchoke.

But lucky for me, Boy thought very differently and came home one night with a bag full of sunchokes.  Our assignment – cook them.  But since we were both so unfamiliar with this ingredient, we decided to try not one, but two recipes: Sunchoke Soup with Pumpkin Seeds and Sunchoke Chips.  We kept the flavors of both recipes very simple so we could experience the full effect of the ingredient – we weren’t really sure what they tasted like.  Turns out, that on their own, sunchokes pack quite a punch.  And while the soup took some time to make, the chips could not have been easier.

Although peeling does take some time and effort, it moves along much quicker than I had imagined and for some recipes, like the chips, the sunchokes taste better with the skin on. I also want to add that I think artichokes are an even more time consuming vegetable – you have to cut the tips of their leaves and steam them and then take out the heart and so on and so on.  So when it comes to making a soup with that same earthy flavor, I would much rather grab a few sunchokes and get cooking.

So the next time you find yourself hiding from a mysterious, but intriguing ingredient, remember to set aside a few hours and give it a chance. You may find your new favorite flavor enhancer or go-to crowd pleaser.  You just have to be willing to take a leap of faith and see what happens.  Sometimes you will fail, but most of the time, you will come out on top with something really delicious to eat.  Chow on.

Sunchoke Soup

with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Fried Shimeji Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 10 sunchoke bulbs (0 mg of sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter (0 mg of sodium)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped (0 mg of sodium)
  • 6 cups of water
  • pumpkin seeds, shelled and unsalted (0 mg of sodium)
  • shimeji mushrooms (or any kind that you have in your fridge)
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil (0 mg of sodium)
  • 1 teaspoon of any white vinegar (0 mg of sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon of crème fraiche or heavy cream (0 mg of sodium)

Directions:

1. Begin by peeling your sunchokes.  To make it easier, first cut off the knots on the sunchoke.  This will give you a more even surface for peeling without losing too much of the ingredient.

2. Cut the sunchoke into smaller, round pieces and set aside in a bowl that contains 2 cups of water and the vinegar.  This will keep the sunchokes from turning brown.

3. Heat butter in a pot over medium heat and carefully stir until the butter has been browned.  Without much seasoning in this recipe, the brown butter gives it a nice, nutty flavor that will enhance the whole dish.

4. Add the garlic to the butter and let saute until soft.

5. Add the remaining 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.

6. Add the sunchokes to the pot and allow them to simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until they are soft.  Be prepared to wait, so either pay your bills or play a game.  I hope your scrabble board never looks like mine.

7. When the sunchokes have softened, take an immersion blender to the pot and let it go.  Blend until the soup is silky.

8. While the soup is reducing – you want it to be thick (not gummy), like the consistency of a potato leek soup – heat a nonstick pan.

9. Add pumpkin seeds.  Watch them carefully.  They will plump up when they are toasted.  Remove the seeds and keep them covered and warm.

10. Add the sesame oil to the pan and heat over medium high flame.

11. When oil is hot, add the shimeji mushrooms and fry them until a golden brown.  Put them aside as well.

12. To serve, add a dollop of crème fraiche to heaping bowl of the hot sunchoke soup.  Top with pumpkin seeds and mushrooms and enjoy.

Sunchoke Chips

Ingredients:

  • 4 sunchoke bulbs, washed and unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup of canola oil

Directions:

1. Begin to heat a large, deep pan (like a wok) and add the canola oil.

2. Clean the sunchokes and then use a mandolin or knife to slice thin, chip rounds.

3. Use the spit test to see if oil is hot. (Spit test is when you flick some water or a small piece of the sunchoke into the oil. If it hisses and spits back at you, the oil is ready to go).

4. In small batches, add the sunchokes to the oil and let them fry for 2-3 minutes. You do not want the pan to be crowded.

5. Remove the sunchokes with tongs or a spider skimmer and let them cool on a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat step 4 and 5 until all the sunchoke slices have been crisped.

6. You can dust them with lemon pepper, cayenne, or smoked paprika, but they taste quite flavorful without any spice. To serve, scoop them into a paper bag (if you are taking them out) or a bowl (if you are staying at home). Watch out potatoes, these guys have your number.


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Filed under dinner, lunch, quick fix, recipe box

Tally Me Bananas

Sometimes a blog post is short and sweet, just like a good afternoon snack or the lovely lady you call Mom.  Today, I’m going to focus on the former (sorry Mom) and share with you a newly discovered treat that comes in an individually sized pouch and is so delicious that it will disappear in minutes.  Its name?  Danielle.  I know.  It sounds like the title of a telenovela and trust me, these perfectly fried banana bites are just as captivating.

After an afternoon of work and errands, my good friend Emmerson and I decided it was high time for a well-deserved snack break.  We hopped over to the closest market, which just happened to be BiRite, and perused the aisles of fresh, local produce and pre-made goodies.  The ripe avocados, chilies, cilantro, and tomatoes were begging to be smashed together and made into a smooth, guacamole treat.  We only needed something crisp to go with them.  But there was not a single low sodium chip or tortilla to be found.  I was going to opt for a bag of carrots to scoop up the dip.  Even a spoon would have been fine.  But then, we laid our eyes on the sweet Danielle, just hanging out by the bread, innocently flashing her simple packaging our way.

Turns out Danielle Honey Banana Chips were exactly what we were looking for: pure bananas and palm oil with zero milligrams of sodium.  Their honey flavor can handle both savory and sweet.  They were delicious with the guacamole and I’m sure they would be wonderful crumbled on top of some coconut ice cream. They aren’t so bad by their lonesome either.  And although they are fried, they do not taste greasy in the slightest.  Somehow, the manufacturers left these slender morsels tasting crunchy and light.   So the next time you are looking for something quick and satisfying, pick up a bag of these and this weekend, spice up your chip and dip spread by adding some fried banana chips to the pile .

Remember to always keep your eyes open and snack on.

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Filed under food shopping, quick fix, snacking, tips & tricks