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Home » Foods you're probably not eating but totally should be, GFF (Gluten-free friendly), Healthy supermarket picks, High ANDI foods, No lactose? No problem., Real food for babies

Kale Chips

Submitted by on November 29, 2011 – 11:18 am9 Comments

I’ve been meaning to make Kale Chips for some time now, but recently the universe has conspired to provide the impetus for me to pick up a bunch of kale and get to it.

First, kale is officially in season.  And soon it will be one of the only fresh veggies in season here in the Northeast.  So if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Second, packaged kale chips have started showing up in our local food co-op and health food stores… at exorbitantly expensive prices.  And this coming from a person who routinely–and not unhappily– overpays for food.  Everyone has their limit.  The righteous indignation that overpriced, healthy food evokes in me often inspires me to make a home-made version that I can then smugly blog about.

Third, my increasingly picky babies have developed a strong preference for all things crunchy–but still not too many teeth– which makes it very hard to get vegetables into them.  Since storebought ‘veggie puff’ snacks which contain green vegetables are really more corn puffs than anything else (based on the paltry Vitamin A content), I figured it would be far more nutritious to just make my own veggie snacks at home.  Kale chips have a perfect, fall-apart-into-crumbles-in-your-mouth quality that should work well for the toddling crowd.

Lacinato Kale

Lastly, I’m a nutritionist, for god’s sake.  Why don’t I eat more kale??!!?  It’s, like, the Holy Grail of health foods.  And while I view the term “superfood” with more than a healthy dose of skepticism (it’s more of a marketing term than a nutrition term)– I would be hard-pressed to come up with a food more deserving of the title.  It scores a perfect 1,000 on the ANDI scale, after all.  It’s a powerhouse of Vitamins K, A and C, and is a good source of both calcium and iron.   (Unlike spinach, kale lacks dietary compounds called oxalates, which interfere with iron absorption.  In this regard, kale is a much better source of iron than spinach is, though the latter still tends to enjoy a strong reputation for its iron content.)

If you’re looking for something different to put out for guests as you prepare to entertain this holiday season, why not make up some seasoned kale chips to in lieu of tortilla chips or potato chips?  They’re lower calorie, lower carb and far more nutritious.

Recipe: Kale Chips Three Ways

I decided to offer 3 versions of the kale chip recipe, which partly reflects the fact that I watch too much Top Chef– where anything worth cooking once is worth cooking three times, three different ways– and partly reflects the versatility of this healthy snack, one version of which is sure to please every palate in your family.  Feel free to experiment with seasonings to suit your own taste. The base recipe is the basic, salted version whose standard recipe is simple and ubiquitous, though cooking times and temperatures vary considerably.  You can use flat-leafed kale or curly kale as you wish, though I think curly works better to hold seasoning and flat may work better for babies.  Credit for the base recipe provided here belongs to Chef Jenny Gensterblum of Léman Preparatory School in Manhattan, where my husband teaches.  She is known for her fierce arsenal of healthy but kid-approved dishes, most cooked from scratch.

Version #2 is a “cheesy” flavored one that uses nutritional yeast for seasoning instead of actual cheese.  This keeps it vegan/dairy free, and also bumps up the nutritional value by heaping sprinkles of B-vitamins on top of already Vitamin A-rich kale.  Vegan, baked kale topped with nutritional yeast?  A perfect, self-righteous antidote to the seasonal overindulgence going on this time of year, but delicious enough to keep you from feeling deprived like you would with, say, a rice cake .

Version #3 has got a little bit of a smoky/garlicky kick to it, a seasoning whose credit goes to Shauna James Ahern, the self-designated “Gluten Free Girl,” who suggests sprinkling on a combo of garlic powder and smoked paprika on just-out-of-the-oven kale chips.  Don’t mind if I do, Shauna!

Basic Version

  • 2 bunches of green kale (I used Lacinato, aka., Tuscan kale/Dinosaur kale.  Other varieties work fine, too)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Directions: Preheat the oven to 500°F.  Separate kale leaves and thoroughly rinse and dry. Stack some leaves on top of each other. Cut out the tough center rib by cutting in a v-shape, or tear out the center rib with your fingers. Slice across into strips.  (Careful not to cut pieces too small, or they may burn.) Place kale in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil and a good amount of salt. Spread thinly onto one or two cookie sheets, depending on the size. Bake for 3 minutes, remove from oven briefly, toss (tongs work well for this), and bake for an additional minute or two, until starting to brown and crispy. Watch closely as kale burns rather quickly.

Dairy-free Cheesy Version: As soon as chips come out of the oven, sprinkle a generous handful of nutritional yeast on top of them.  Toss to coat.

Smoky/Garlicky Version: Combine 1/4 tsp garlic powder with 1/4 tsp smoked paprika and sprinkle atop kale chips just out of the oven.

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  • Thank goodness it is in season – it looks so great! We *love* kale chips (especially the nutritional yeast version – we also put almond meal on it).

    Great ideas!

  • Mary Ann Sweeney says:

    I LOVE Kale chips! Unfortunately, most of the crop I grew this season got taken down by 2 severe frosts, back-to-back (kale tastes better when it’s exposed to frost, but this was just too much for it to survive). I had to travel 25 miles to get some, but I did. Here are a few things I blend together in a blender and brush on 2 bunches of the kale preparation described by Tamara (this is loved by all the adults who taste them):

    1 or 2 tsp. liquid aminos (Bragg’s)or soy sauce
    1/4 cup smooth sunbutter, almond,cashew or just plain peanut butter
    1 to 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
    1 to 2 tsp. lemon juice
    small garlic clove
    small onion, peeled and cut in quarters

    Follow Tamara’s recipe directions. I use a dehydrator but the oven works just as well (if your oven works at all – mine’s broken).

  • Eleanor Hender says:

    Hi, I found your recipes interesting and want to try them. What is the best way to store the chips and how long will they stay “fresh”?

    Thanks. Eleanor

  • Tamara says:

    One storage tip: don’t put freshly-baked kale chips in a ziploc bag as I erroneously did! The trapped moisture makes them soft and chewy, when you want them to keep their crunchiness!

  • Tamara says:

    One storage tip: don’t put freshly baked kale chips in a ziploc bag as I erroneously did! The trapped moisture turned my crispy, flaky kale chips into softer, chewier versions of themselves. Still tasty, but not as “chippy”.

  • valerie says:

    Maybe you could clear up the confusion on whether people, like myself, with a hypothyroid condition should consume kale, raw in juicing, steamed, sauteed or not at all. Thanks so much.

  • Tamara says:

    Hi, Valerie,
    I cannot give specific nutrition advice to you, not knowing your individual medical history, medication regimen, overall diet, etc.. However, I can speak in generalities, and say that as a rule, I don’t recommend that my patients with thyroid issues avoid cruciferous vegetables as a matter of course. If someone had a thyroid condition that was not being well-controlled with medication, or if their diet was unusually high in cruciferous veggies (as in, several servings per day, every day), perhaps I might suggest limiting intake. I will also say that cooking these veggies does decrease the amount of bioactive goitrogenic compounds pretty significantly, so if one were concerned about this issue, cooking (especially boiling or braising) kale would be a better idea than eating it raw or lightly steamed.

  • Rachel says:

    So I recently ate this at his True Food Kitchen restaurant in Scottsdale and have been obsessed with it ever since. Fortunately he had the recipe posted so I could replicate at home and it is so delicious and easy–you have to try it!

  • Nancy says:

    Thanks for your recipes!

    I made these using the advice to bake at (if I recall) 300 degrees for 20 min. instead. It greatly reduces the chance of burning and dries them out better. Also, I spray the kale with butter flavored cooking spray to avoid some of the oil, and grind the salt finer first. Though some of your own and others’ flavor suggestions are great.