Gluten Free · Healthy Kids · Kids Health · Pregnancy Nutrition · Recipes · Vegan

Why Kale and How to Make Those Amazing Chips

Kale chips are one of those healthy foods that are actually kind of cool to eat!   Kale is a great food to start with if you are looking to incorporate more vegetables in your diet or are starting on a plant based diet.  They are super easy to cook and really durable.  They will stand up in almost any dish and for the most part are pretty hard to over cook.  They  are very well rounded, nutritionally speaking.  You will feel satisfied and content and not starving after eating them.  You will be guaranteed to reap major benefits even from a small amount.  An added bonus… because it is so super easy to make kale chips, super easy, the kids can help.  Which they want to, by way.  Which means they can add their own spin.  Which gets them interested in them.  Which means they will want to eat them.   Which means a win for everyone!

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When it comes specifically to cooking kale chips, the most enjoyed form of kale consumption these day,  most people won’t make them because they can be a little intimidating.  There is a fear that they will never come out as good as the version they bought in the store.  Or, sometimes an attempt at cooking them, can result in an over cooked, dust version of the former hearty, leafy, green.  So I am going to discuss some of the things that can lead to the demise of the kale chip.

Lets first talk about their amazing health benefits though!  

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and disease fighting antioxidants.  All varieties of kale offer incredible health benefits.  This is a food that is going to give you a huge bang for your buck in terms of nutrients so try to make it a staple in your diet.

  • Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids to help protect against various cancers.
  • On its own, kale is a low calorie food that is high in fiber and has zero fat.
  • One cup of kale leaves has only 36 calories, offers 5 grams of fiber, and 0 grams of fat.
  • Being such a great source of fiber, kale is perfect for aiding in digestion and intestinal cleansing.
  • It is high in iron which is essential for proper liver function.
  • Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef.  Per calorie, kale offers more calcium than milk.
  • Kale is high in vitamin A – good for vision and skin. Vitamin C – helpful for your immune system, metabolism, and for hydration. Vitamin K – for protection against various cancers and vitamin D for mood boosts and bone h.  To add to this already impressive list, it’s also high in omega-3 and 6, folic acid and Vitamin B6.

The types!

This super food comes in many different varieties.  Each type of kale offers slightly different health benefits and a different flavor.  The 3 most common are green curly kale, purple or red Russian kale, and Lacinato (Dinosaur) kale, my favorite.  When we were living in Japan the local farmers markets would tout a variety of different versions of kale that they used in stews and stocks, and only had available in the winter.  The color and texture of them was so intense and amazing that I almost did not recognize them at first!

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photo credit: chowhound.com

Green curly kale is what you find in most markets, de-stemmed and prepackaged.  You can find the red Russian and Dinosaur varieties in your produce section, usually nestled next to the collards, romain and spinach.

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Kale is a relatively bitter green, especially if it’s picked before it has had time to fully mature.  The best way to reduce the bitterness of the kale be sure to wash the leaves throughly.  Once the leaves are good and clean you can use them in just about anything they have a very neutral and sweet taste and I promise the whole family will love it!

Now lets get to cooking our chips!

Seasoning – Seasoning are so important because they are what your taste buds are going to register with your brain the next time you eat the food.  This is the memory you are going to create with this food.  So season according to what YOU like.   My recipe, is what we like at our house and is fairly basic.  Don’t get me wrong though, we have had some hyped up versions too!

  • Optional Dry Seasonings – These help with absorbing the moisture, and is a great way to add additional flavor with out adding calories or fat.  You can really put whatever you want on them!

garlic, onions, seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin), cumin, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, Italian seasonings for a more savory flavor.

  • Optional Wet Seasonings – Any added moisture is going to make your chips soggy if you aren’t careful about balancing it out with your dry seasonings.  I wouldn’t do more then a tablespoon of any liquid for 6 cups of kale.  Use less if you are making fewer chips.

Tahini, lemon, juice, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar

Oil –  The fat adds flavor and helps you absorb the nutrients in the kale.  It also helps to balance out the the chips so that you have little bit of each macronutrient (fat, protein and carbs) to keep you feeling satisfied and content.  Here too if you add to much to will end up with soggy chips.

Coconut oil, Olive oil,  Avocado oil

Salt – Necessary to absorb the moisture and tenderize the hearty green, so use it liberally.  Do not be afraid of the salt especially if you chose a high quality sea salt.

Pepper – The lightness of a cracked pepper, cayenne or even paprika can help to cut and balance out the fatty flavor from the oil.

Nutritional Yeast – I LOVE nutritional yeast, on everything, and it is an excellent source of added vitamin, minerals and protein.

Cooking

This is where all the confusion comes in there.   What I have found works best is roasting at a low temperature for a longer period of time. 350º-375º for 12-15 minutes or even 20 minutes depending on your oven. Be sure to give them a good stir halfway through.

You can make them more quickly if you are in need of a super quick snack, but you risk  them being too soggy (if there is too much kale) or over cooked (if you only throw a few pieces on there).  Preheat the oven at 400º and roast them on the top shelf for no more the 7-10 minutes.  Again, be sure to give them good stir halfway through.

The major factors in cooking your perfect kale chip are the temperature and the time.  It is going to be determined by how crispy you like your chips.  I favor a less crispy more dense version but my husbands likes them, well burnt, in my opinion.  So moral of the story, don’t set the timer and walk away until you find that magic combo of temp and time for your tastes!

Cheesy (No-Cheese) Kale Chips

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Hearty and delicious, the perfect winter snack!


Preheat your oven 375º.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of organic chopped kale, de-stemmed and torn
  • 1 Tbs of Coconut Oil
  • A dash of salt
  • A dash of pepper
  • 2 Tbs of Nutritional Yeast
  • 1-2 Tbs of Apple Cider Vinegar (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 Lemon (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the kale into a large bowl and gently toss with the oil, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. You can also choose to add the vinegar or lemon juice at this point, totally optional, but I love the flavor.
  2. Lay a portion of the kale on a baking sheet in a single layer, be sure not to put too much in the pan or the kale will not cook evenly and you may find yourself with a steamed version.
  3.  Place the pan in a preheated oven of 375º on a top rack.  Roast the kale chips for 7 minutes then flip them and roast them for another 5-7 minutes*.
  4. *Ovens vary so greatly.  I encourage you to keep a close eye on the chips until they reach your desired textured and adjust the time accordingly.


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