Basic Kale Chips: an Addict’s Tips & Tricks

after seeing a tweet from my friend Felicia Sullivan today, i got inspired to come home and whip up a batch of Kale Chips.

Kale definitely lives up to its “super food” title:

One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. (from WebMD)

 ←even my dog loves kale!

Kale Chips are a fantastic snack food – especially if you’re vegan/raw vegan and you’re missing that salty crunchy snack. not only is it nutritious, the recipe for basic Kale Chips seems SUPER easy:

  • kale, de-veined
  • salt
  • pepper

i mean, can’t beat simple ingredients. but after making a few batches at home, here are some helpful hints from a kale chip addict that will hopefully make your DIY Kale Chips easier:

  • Cleaning: kale has so many beautiful folds & curly-ness — but that just means you have to be SUPER thorough when you clean it. dirt/mold/bugs tend to get stuck in the folds.
  • De-veining:  they always tell you to “de-vein” the kale, which usually means you pull the stem/spine away from the leaf.  i don’t know about anyone else, but that always results in me tearing the kale leaf – not cute.  SO, rather than de-veining (pulling the spine away from the leaf)  – just de-leaf it instead (pull the leaves away from the stem).  this is far more manageable and this way, you have more control to make sure each “chip” piece is of equal size (see next tip)
  • basic cooking principle: make sure each piece is the same size to ensure even cooking. we should never forget basic principles of cooking – even when making something as simple as chips.  as best as possible – try to make sure each chip/leaf is of equal size so your batch cooks evenly
  • coat evenly:  whether you’re making a simple Olive Oil/S&P Kale Chip recipe, or you’re doing a more fancy version with a nut-mixture, you must make sure that each chip/leaf is evenly coated. this will also help ensure it cooks evenly

whether you bake or dehydrate your Kale Chips, the above tips should always apply.  personally, i prefer dehydrating — even though it takes longer, i feel it retains more of the green kale flavor in the chips.  but either will do!

  • for dehydrator: lay out on dehydrator trays, dehydrate for minimum of 8 hours at 115°F.
  • for oven: bake at 300°F for approximately 20 minutes (or until crisp). let cool

hope these tips are helpful for my fellow Kale Chip Addicts! :)

Bikram Yoga: Doubling Up? Here are some helpful tips…

If you’ve ever done a Bikram Yoga class, you’d probably say, “What kind of crackhead do you need to be, to want to do TWO of these classes back-to-back?”
Yep.  You read correctly: 2 Bikram classes back-to-back. 180 minutes in the hotbox.
While most of us don’t opt to do this on a daily basis, if you’re doing a 30-day or a 60-day Bikram Yoga Challenge, there is an allowance that states:

  • During a 30-Day Challenge, if you miss a day of class, you may double up on another day.  But you cannot double up more than TWICE during a 30-day.  (hell, life happens, right?!)

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need (or want) to take a double, here are some things to consider…
(Again: please note I am not an official Bikram instructor…just a fanatic)

ASSESS YOUR BODY AFTER THE 1ST CLASS

  • Be honest with yourself.  Don’t do a double just because your hell-bent on it.
  • Assess how your body feels: if you feel great, give it a shot.  If not, then there will always be another day.

IN-BETWEEN CLASSES

  • Most studios will have 30 minutes in-between the end of the last class, and the beginning of the next class.
  • After your final savasana, I recommend leaving the room to cool down slightly and normalize.
  • HYDRATE.  (duh.)  In addition to drinking regular water, I really like drinking a coconut water.
  • My home studio (Bikram Yoga NYC) carries Zico, but I just got tuned in to VitaCoco which (at least to me) tastes like it has a little less sugar than Zico.  While it’s nice to have a little sugar for energy, drinking something sweet can sometimes make you more thirsty.  So generally speaking, the less sugar the better.
  • Don’t forget to pee before the 2nd class.  On the real.

ENJOY THE RIDE!

  • If I’m doing a double, during the first 15 minutes of Class #2, my mind is grumbling things like, “Holy crap, what was I thinking?,” “Oh damn, this is gonna be a long freaking class…,” “Get. Me. Out.”
  • Let it go….Once you learn to accept the fact that you are committed to be in the room…the fun begins.

HOW DO YOU FEEL?

  • EUPHORIA. The second class is euphoric.  Your body is already warmed and stretched out from the 1st class, so the 2nd class is less stiff.
  • YOUR MIND IS QUIET. One of the reasons for hatha (physical) yoga is to quiet the body, so that the mind can be quieted and prepared for meditation.  The 1st class helps you get all the “noise” out of your head.  The 2nd class, you experience a focus, awareness and “present-mindedness” that is indescribable.

So if you DO decide to try your hand at doing a Bikram double…hope this helps!!
Namaste.

BIKRAM 101: an unofficial guide for beginners

If anyone’s ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point”, I fall into the category of “Maven”.  If there’s something I love, I feel compelled to tell everyone I know about it and convert them.
Such is the case for my love of Bikram Yoga.  Over the years, I’ve estimated that I’ve brought over 30 people as “first timers” to class with me.  When my fellow yogini @aatp tried Bikram for the first time, I wrote her this LONG novel of an email about what to expect and how to prepare for your first class.
So I thought it was only fitting that I write a “Bikram 101” post for any newbies interested in trying Bikram Yoga for the first time.
*Please note, I am not a certified Bikram instructor.  These are just my personal reflections and friendly suggestions.

THE FACTS – WHAT IS BIKRAM YOGA?

  • Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures developed by Bikram Choudhury.  Each posture is repeated twice
  • In each class, you do the same 26 postures, so it’s very easy to learn
  • Each class is 90 minutes
  • Room temperature is between 105 – 110 degrees
  • The heat is designed to promote flexibility without injury
  • You begin and end the series with a breathing exercise
  • There is no “advanced” or “beginner” level.  The entire class is one level. (U-N-I-T-Y!)

HOW TO PREPARE BEFORE CLASS

  • HYDRATE: Because you sweat a lot in class, you need to drink enough water before class to compensate.  If you go later in the day, I recommend drinking enough until you “pee clear”.
  • DON’T EAT…well, you should definitely eat to give your body energy, but try not to eat 2-3 hours before class.  Otherwise the food sits in your stomach and you may get nauseous.
  • LESS IS MORE:  It’s hot in there – if you don’t have to wear a lot of clothing…don’t.
  • STRATEGIC BATHROOMING: While you should definitely hydrate, you must try to go to the bathroom and fully drain yourself before class starts.  Unfortunately, you can’t leave in the middle of class, so do it while you can!
  • GET IN THERE AS SOON AS YOU CAN: I know this sounds ridiculous — why would you want to subject yourself to the heat for longer than you have to? Simple: to let your body acclimate to the heat.  Most studios will let you in to the room at least 15 mins before class begins.  I highly recommend going in, setting up your mat, and just letting yourself get used to being in there, so that it’s not so much of a shock once class begins.

DURING CLASS

  • Your goal for the first 10 Bikram classes is simple: JUST STAY IN THE ROOM.  Yes, it’s going to be hot.  Yes, you’re going to want to leave.  But part of the challenge of the yoga is to learn how to persevere in a state of panic and remain calm.  Even if you have to just sit down on your mat, it’s better than leaving the room.
  • LOOK IN THE MIRROR. You can glance at other people to get inspired and see how the postures are done, but don’t forget look at yourself in the mirror. You are your own best teacher.
  • BREATHE. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  But it’s so easy to forget to breathe.  Always remember to come back to the breath.
  • DON’T GUZZLE YOUR WATER. As much as you want to take a swig of your water and never stop — try to take small sips.  Guzzling will only mean you’ll get a big water belly that may overheat and cause nausea.
  • ACCEPT & BE PATIENT. Each day is different. You may rock out one day, and then sit out for half the class on the next day.  It’s OK.  Your body is different each day, depending on how much sleep, what you eat, stress, etc.  Just do the best you can do for that day.
  • Other small things:  1) Don’t arrive in the clothes you’re going to practice in.  2) Most studios will give you 2 large towels + 1 hand towel. Save one of the large towels to shower with after class.  3) No talking in class.  It’s a moving meditation. 4) Be respectful of your classmates.  The first class is going to be hard, no questions about it. But others will be balancing and concentrating — try to keep the exasperation and flailing and fidgeting to a minimum out of respect to your fellow yogis.

BENEFITS

The benefits of Bikram vary far & wide.  Here are a few benefits Bikram provides on a very basic level:

  • Detoxification: sweat is one of the body’s most natural method of excretion, and if there’s one thing EVERYone does – it’s sweat!
  • Cardiovascular Workout: Between the heat and the postures, your heart rate gets cranked up during class.
  • Muscle Toning
  • Calorie-burning: Depending on your body type, metabolism and how hard you work in class, you can burn anywhere from 300 – 700 calories during a single Bikram class.
  • Increased flexibility

On a more spiritual level, here are some Bikram benefits that I’ve experienced:

  • PATIENCE with SELF
  • ACCEPTANCE
  • INCREASE APPETITE
  • INCREASE METABOLISM
  • AWARENESS of what I eat and use on my body
  • CALMNESS
  • PEACE


To find the Bikram studio nearest you, visit www.bikramyoga.com and click on the Class Finder.  There are also other studios that advertise “Hot Yoga”.  Unless it states it’s a “BIKRAM” studio, please know these other studios aren’t repping it on the official front.
Good luck & Namaste!!  :)