Monday, 27 October 2014

Kale Chips

Ever feel like you're the last person to get on the bandwagon for certain things?  I do ... regularly.  For the past several months (years?) kale has been one of the hot foods du jour in recipes, food blogs, food magazines and with TV food personalities.  Why?  Well I'll tell ya ...

  • Kale is chalked full of antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids, which help protect against many cancers.  
  • It has lots of vitamins. Kale is high in vitamin A (great for your eyes and skin) and vitamin C (helps your metabolism, hydration and immunity) and vitamin K (helps protect against certain cancers)
  • It is a low calorie food that also has no fat.  None, zippo, zilch.
  • It's high in fibre which means it helps in digestion and intestinal cleansing.  And who doesn't love a squeaky clean intestine?  No one, that's who.
  • Kale is high in vitamins.  It's got loads of iron which makes your liver happy and when you look at kale per calorie it has more iron than beef!  And per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk!
That's a whole lot of reasons to love kale, right?
When I finally decided to make these kale chips I used two kinds of kale that a library customer graciously gave to me from her own garden.  She gave me a bunch of curly kale and lacianto kale and I definitely preferred one over the other.
Curly kale was my favourite and can often be found in food stores.  It's got a ruffled leaf texture and is usually bright green or even purple in colour.  The flavour tends to have a peppery taste and can be fairly pungent.  Older curly kale can be bitter so make sure you choose younger bunches.
Lacianto (aka dinosaur) kale had dark blue/green leaves that have a wrinkled texture and the leaves are thicker and more firm than the curly kale.  This kale has a sweeter taste than the curly variety and keeps its shape better after it has been cooked.
No one can argue that kale isn't a nutritional powerhouse.  That said, it is a green leafy vegetable that can turn people (ok, the small humans that dwell with me) off.  So I decided to try something that potentially my kids would try ... the Kale Chip.  My kids love potato chips but sadly a green leafy chip wasn't something that got them excited or on board with this venture. 

I found these chips to taste quite a lot like toasted pumpkin seeds!!  The health benefits and the fact that you don't have to deal with pumpkin slime make this snack (in my opinion) a much better option than the very seasonal pumpkin seed snack.

Curly kale and/or Lacianto kale
Grapeseed oil (or olive)
Sea salt

Carefully wash kale well.  Using a salad spinner (or a clean, dry dish towel) dry off the leaves well.  Carefully cut out as much of the stalk as you can.  The stalks can be quite tough and the small branches that go out to the leaves are hard to chew and become quite stringy so try to remove as many of them as you can.
Heat oven to 300F.  Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and set aside.
Dip your fingers into the grapeseed oil and gently massage each kale leaf with the oil with as little oil as possible. Too much oil will make your chips mushy.  I used less than 1 tsp of oil for a full cookie sheet of kale chips.  Lay the kale leaves out in a single layer on the prepared pan making sure they don't bunch up so the leaves won't steam.  We want them crispy!

** Above -  the leafy, light green kale is the Curly Kale and the darker green Kale is the Dino Kale. **
Season liberally with sea salt.  Bake in the preheated oven for 5-10 minutes or until kale chips are crispy but not burnt.  Keep an eye on them as they cook - I never flipped the chips either.  They won't change much in appearance but they will crisp up.  Remove from oven and allow the chips to sit for 3 minutes.  Enjoy!

Tip: Try sprinkling other seasonings instead of just salt

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