Good Food In Disguise–Kale Chips

Several posts ago I talked about the fact that I am a work in progress when it comes to clean, green eating.   When I’m good, I’m very, very good, but when I’m bad…

With a husband who ate healthier than I did, I have gradually made substantial changes in our diet.   Yet, it was my transition away from my permed hair that caused me to take a hard, hard look at my diet.   Not knowing what I had after 30+ years of chemical perms (aka as “creamy crack” within the hair community) plus several more years of straightening, I wanted to grow the healthiest head of hair possible.  So I began to embrace certain foods as “good hair foods,” and then continued to embrace them as “good life foods.”  And once I embraced them, I began to seek out ways to get more of them in my diet.

But, in the spirit of total honesty, the southern girl still likes the dark side of the force every once in a while.   Though I probably fry foods less than once per month, I still enjoy an occasional flirt with nutritional danger.   It’s where I was just a few nights ago when I pulled out my tilapia fillets and my mushrooms and began to (gasp!) fry them all.   It was uuuuummm  uuuuuuummm  goooooood.    But I know better.  So I began to reach in the fridge for, in a word, balance.  As it was almost time to visit the grocer’s, the cupboard was low, but I did find almost a full bunch of kale.

Until a few years back, I had never tasted kale, though I’ve eaten various greens all of my life.   Having been introduced to this particular veggie, all I could tell you until a few months ago was that unlike broccoli, you could not taste kale in a smoothie.   I can remember telling my sister that I used kale as a basis for my green smoothies.   Her response was, “Kale??!!  Kale??!! (as in, did I hear you correctly?)   Do you know you’re eating a collard green??!!”

Well, here’s the 411 on this particular green.   You might also try finding more information about who should not eat kale here.

After becoming infatuated with kale-based smoothies, thanks to Pinterest, I found a new way to love kale–kale chips.    And on a night when my fried feast needed some balancing, these were just perfect.

Many kale chip recipes give nods to simplistic seasonings–a little olive oil and sea salt.   But as one who hates a plain chip of any kind, I borrowed and then modified a more flavorful recipe from here.   The process is simple, and the results are oh, so satisfying.

What You’ll Need:

  • Kale leaves, washed, torn away from the hearty stem,  and torn into approximately 1-1/2 pieces (2-3 people can easily devour a bunch of kale around here)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2-3 heaping TBSP almond butter (though I have not tried it, I imagine peanut butter might work as well for those on a budget)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of salt

(The oil allows the almond butter to become the right consistency for tossing and coating the kale leaves).

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.   The original recipe says 350, but I have found that my chips cook too quickly and sometimes begin to burn at the higher temp, causing me to sacrifice some flavor for expediency.   The key here is to use a lower temperature and let the chips bake until crispy.   I have even seen recipes that suggest baking temperatures as low as 185, and allowing the kale to bake for one hour.   Experiment with this to see what works best for your altitude and oven.

Set kale aside.  Mix all the remaining ingredients together to make a sauce that should be about salad dressing consistency.   Add the kale leaves, using your fingers to toss the leaves and coat each with the butter/oil/spice mixture.

You are tossing to coat, but not to drench.   Bear in mind that the less coating, the faster the chip will dry to a crisp in the oven.

Use cooking spray to coat a piece of parchment paper (this works SO much better than aluminum foil).   Place the seasoned leaves on the oiled surface, spreading them such that no leaves  touch each other.   Bake at 275 for approximately 20 minutes.   If the consistency is not dry (but not too crumbly), then leave the chips in the oven, checking them about every 10 minutes.

Voila!!

They say that these are best stored in an airtight container to prevent them from becoming stale, but frankly, I would not know.  We never keep leftovers around long enough to find out!  Enjoy without the guilt, dear friends!

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