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.
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!
- 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.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.