It's all new to me

I've been doing really well with my weekly real food pledges and have found them to be pretty easy so far.  I breezed through week 1 dealing with fresh fruits and vegetables (and I'm proud to say I'm still conscious of making sure I get my daily quota.)

The challenge during week 2 was to move away from sodas, drink more water and only sweeten your tea or coffee with honey or 100% maple syrup (not the Ms. Buttersworth stuff) in an effort to wean yourself away from refined sugars or artificial sweeteners.  I don't drink sodas, coffee or milk but I do need to drink more water and sweet tea is my weakness.  I've tried a few times in the past to switch completely to unsweetened tea and found it to be the equivalent of drinking dirty water, so I'm not sure I can ever make that total switch (which rolls around as the challenge in week 12.)

I had to push the week 3 challenge a little further down the list simply because of time restraints right now.  The challenge was to purchase only locally raised meats and while we certainly have that option available here in Charlotte (I plan to check out Baucom's Best), I have been in the middle of home renovations and my weekends have been tied up with other obligations and that is pretty much the only time the outlets that sell Baucom's products are open.  In an attempt to totally not ignore the pledge, I purchased some organic chicken and beef, it just wasn't local. 

The pledge for week 4 was easy too because I don't eat fast food or even eat out in a restaurant very much and I don't deep fry.  I will admit to occasionally indulging in Boy Toy's fried chicken wings, just not during the pledge week.

So that brings me to the week 5 challenge which was to try at least 2 new whole foods that you've never tried before. I chose kale and quinoa.  To me, as a former caterer, kale is something that is used to garnish dinner plates or line serving platters and not something that you would actually eat.  It seems that kale chips have been all the rage for several years now and I guess I've been living under a rock because I'd never heard of such a thing until I started researching what in the world to do with garnish kale. I haven't tried the quinoa yet but I'm so glad I gave these kale chips a try because I was very surprised at how much I liked them.  It was a bit like eating crunchy fall leaves, but they were addictive and I couldn't stop eating! 

Check out this link for more ways to enjoy kale and here's a video of my girl crush Hilah Johnson making garlic sesame kale, which is next on my list of ways to try it.

Kale Chips

1 bunch fresh kale, washed and thoroughly dried
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Strip the kale leaves from the "rib" and roughly tear them into pieces.  In a bowl, combine kale with olive oil and salt and toss to completely coat the leaves.

Place leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the leaves turn brown, shaking the pan once during cooking to redistribute the leaves and prevent them from burning (not all of the leaves will turn brown and crisp, so don't try to get them all to look the same.)

These are best when eaten the day of baking.  I had a few left over and they were a bit chewy the next day. 



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