I’ve Got a New Way to CRUNCH!

Why, hello there! Yes, I know, depending on where you’re located, it could potentially be approaching the evening hours and I realize my blog title is “Melissa MORNING Musings,” however, I had a bit of a busier morning/day, therefore, I am coming to you at several hours later, but the way I see it, better late than never, right?! Anyhow, before I delve into today’s musing, without further adieu, I bring you my morning nourishment:

Breakfast (Friday, July 12, 2013):

1 container America’s Choice (Pathmark store brand) Black Cherry Greek Yogurt (Pretty good and filling!)

1 cup Puffed Rice cereal (Giant Store brand, but since I couldn’t find a photo of the Giant brand, I’m presenting you with an image of the actual cereal).

1 cup Kashi Simply Maize (Yum, so tasty! Yes, it is a repeat from yesterday, but since I opened a new box yesterday, it reminded me of how delicious it is, therefore, I just HAD to have it again, today!)

1 Banana (Looking back, I realized I forgot to mention my precious banana yesterday! Sure enough though, no worries, the good old banana was there, per usual!).

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How to Crunch the Healthy Way:

If you’re like me, you’re a fan of crunching! Of course, it could be anything, from the healthier side of things, with carrots, celery and cucumber, or something a little more indulgent, such as chips. Both can be incorporated into a healthy, fulfilling and satisfying daily regimen. However, I’d like to present you, my friends, with an alternative to the typical “chips” found in your grocery store aisles. I present you with….

FENNEL:

Yes, before you turn away, Fennel, or Anise as some refer to it, is one of my newest discovered loves in the produce aisle. Years ago, I tried it once and shunned it, failing to cook it properly, or at least, to my liking. In my opinion, roasting has the ability to make mostly anything tasty and savory, in that it truly does draw out it’s natural sweetness. If you’re unfamiliar with Fennel, as I was, it is a white bulb and can be eaten either cooked or raw, though I highly prefer it cooked and nearly charred, resembling that of a chip! The white bulb is topped with green leaves. Not only can be Fennel be eaten on its own, but it can be used to flavor, serving as a replacement for onions and parsley.

Health Benefits of Fennel:

Not only is Fennel a tasty treat, but it also reaps many health benefits, such as –

  • High in Vitamin C
  • A good source of dietary fiber
  • Potassium
  • Maganese
  • Folate
  • 31 calories per 3.5 oz

Fennel Serving Suggestions:

  • Roasted (my personal favorite – peel, chop and stick in the oven at 400 degrees for roughly 20-25 mins, longer or shorter depending on the level of “crunchiness” you prefer, then enjoy!).
  • As a garnish (to a meal, soup, etc).
  • Raw (in a salad)

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KALE:

Years ago, when I first discovered the world of blogs, I began to notice a recurrent natural snack/side dish surfacing – Kale Chips! Since my discovery, it has become a staple in my daily meals! I tend to buy fresh bunches several times per week, choosing to rip off the thick leaves of the vegetable, tossing it on a baking sheet with my seasoning of choice (low-sodium soy sauce!) it adds great flavor and makes for a savory taste, which I enjoy and relish in!

If you’re relatively unfamiliar with kale, it is a leafy green vegetable, which when eaten raw can be slightly bitter (depending on your taste buds). There are a couple different varieties of kale (Curly Leaf, Plain, Leaf, etc) that can be found in the grocery store. For example, Whole Foods has a particular kind (Dinosaur Kale). 

Health Benefits of Kale:

  • High in Beta Carotene
  • High in Vitamin K
  • High in Vitamin C
  • High in Calcium
  • 28 calories per 3.5 oz

Kale Serving Suggestions:

  • Roasted as “Chips” (definitely my favorite way to consume Kale, in that it truly does take on the taste of chips, however, I do suggest keeping a close watch on the Kale once placing it in the oven, as it tends to cook up VERY quickly, so unless you like VERY charred chips, be mindful of its time in the oven!).
  • Raw (in a salad, or simply by itself. Sometimes, I’ve seen Food Network chefs “massage” it by rubbing dressing, oils, seasonings over it to slightly “wilt,” and flavor it).
  • In a soup/stew (this is another favorite way of mine to utilize Kale. Unlike spinach, kale holds up very well, in my opinion, in soups and stews, retaining its shape and taste, without wilting like spinach).

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Kale (Left), Dinosaur Kale (middle), Kale Chips (Right)

Question: So tell me, what’s your favorite way to crunch? Have you discovered any new, unique ways?

– M.

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