Kale. I have heard a lot lately about this super veggie. Just about every magic juice recipe I come across, every cleanse, includes this leafy green phenomenon. The experts have nothing but great things to say: Loaded with nutrients! Boosts the body’s detoxification system! Increases enzyme production! Fights deadly inflammation! Apparently it’s also loaded with cancer fighting phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins K, C, and A. This could very well be the healthiest food on the planet. What’s not to love? With how I’ve been feeling lately anything I can do or eat to feel better and be healthier, I am willing to try.
As wonderful as it sounds, I seem to feel challenged by this glorious, mystery veggie. Okay, here it goes: it intimidates me. Yes, you read correctly. I am intimidated by a vegetable. Every time I have tried to cook it, I did something wrong or it just didn’t taste as good as expected. I overseasoned, or underseasoned. I steamed it too long or not long enough. It seems like it needs a lot of help, and I have no flipping clue what to do with it.
While I can be quite the gourmand, I am not too knowledgeable when it comes to the actual expert preparation of food. I know what I love, I know what tastes good, and heaven knows these days I have the waistline to prove it. But when confronted with what to do before my dinner makes it to the plate, I can easily fall to pieces.
So I seek understanding. How can I fit this nutritional superstar into my diet? I have gone the juicing route. I have thrown a few leaves into the juicer along with my apples, carrots, beets, and anything else I find in the fridge. With all of those other yummy things, it sure tastes delicious. But I want to feel a bit more sophisticated. Up the ante, so to speak.
My husband won’t support me in this venture. As far as he is concerned, it is nothing more than a vile weed that has no place in our garden or kitchen, let alone on our plates. So I’m on my own here. Where can I go with this? What will be easy? The end result delicious?
Why not start with kale chips?
After looking up a few recipes, I can see that this won’t be a complicated one. It will be easy to put my own twist on it. So this is what I used, and how I did it:
Approximately 3 ounces coarsely chopped kale (I used about a third of a ten ounce pre-cut bag. The pre-cut pieces varied from 1-2 inches. I pulled away any rib portion. Or use one bunch, pulling rib portion away and cutting into 1-2 inch pieces).
About three tablespoons olive oil
Coarse sea salt (to taste)
Light cooking spray (for a quick once over on the cookie sheet)
Baking time: 20 minutes at 300 degrees (preheat oven)
Level of Difficulty: So easy it’s ridiculous
On my first attempt, I coated my hands in the oil and handled the pieces to ensure adequate coating. On my second attempt, I tossed the same amount of kale in a medium sized bowl with 2-3 tablespoons oil. I found that both methods coat the kale adequately, and the tossing-in-the-bowl technique uses slightly less oil, a healthier and less wasteful alternative.
I spread the pieces in a single layer on the cookie sheet and generously sprinkled sea salt. Half way through the total cooking time, I tossed the pieces with my kitchen tongs to ensure even cooking and maximum crispiness. On my second attempt, I sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese halfway through the baking time after tong tossing.
The verdict? Delicious with a light, pleasant crunch. I am all about the crunchy texture. When I’m stressed, I love crunch. Better than blowing through a bag of Chex Mix. Granted, if you hate kale, eating these chips is not going to make you love it. And if you are expecting the satisfaction that potato chips, Fritos, or Cheetos give you, you will be sorely disappointed. But if you like veggies, and kale for that matter, and you want to feel like you are doing something good for yourself, these will be sure to satisfy.
These chips also have a some versatility, you can season them any way you wish, sea salt and parmesan cheese are just the beginning. Try paprika, garlic salt, or Ranch salad dressing mix. Or pair them with your favorite dip. There are many opportunities to tailor it to your own individual taste.
A word of advice. Eating these chips made an absolute mess of my teeth, with lots of lovely little green bits just about everywhere in my mouth. It’s nothing that a toothpaste and toothbrush won’t fix, and have floss handy for good measure. Just looking out for you.
Not sure about kale, but you want to try something similar? I also love roasted seaweed. Absolutely delicious, and sinfully salty. I have absolutely no clue on how to prepare seaweed, so I spare myself the agony and buy it. Try Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed Snack, .4 ounces for $1. Costco also has its own version, by Being Blue, under $10. One box gives you 27 packs, .18 ounces each. When I do the math, Costco’s product is the slightly better buy. The two brands taste similar, and you can eat it as is or incorporate it into your Asian inspired meals. Seaweed is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and is known to support metabolism. Hard to say no to that. And yes, the toothbrush-toothpaste-floss tip applies to seaweed, too.