Monday, December 19, 2011

Kale Chips

Kale is one of those vegetables that seemed foreign to me for quite some time - in the same vein as parsnips, brussel sprouts, collard greens, etc.  I used to have no idea what people did with kale, but now that I use it more often, I have realized how wonderful kale can be.

I always considered kale to be a lettuce, but it is actually part of the cabbage family.  It can come in green or purple, but I have only ever found green. 
Isn't the purple kale pretty?  [this photo is from]

Kale is very healthy - it is high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and has some calcium.  It also contains anti-cancer properties, due to it's sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol content.  Basically that means it is really healthy for you, but if you are curious what each of those nutrients do, here is a short run down:
  • Beta carotene - provides Vitamin A; helps protect cells from damage
  • Vitamin K - allows blood to clot normally; helps protect bones from fracture. *Kale has 531 mcg of Vitamin K per half cup; romaine lettuce only has 57
  • Vitamin C - needed for growth and repair of body tissue (like healing wounds)
  • Zeaxanthin - defends cells from damaging effects of free radicals; protect eyes
  • Lutein - similar to Zeaxanthin; anti-cancer and anti-aging; reduced risk of cataracts
  • Sulforaphane - Targets prostate and other hormone dependent cancer lines
  • Indole-3-carbinol - Used for prevention of breast cancer, colon cancer, and other types
So basically, you should be eating kale! One of the best articles I ever read framed eating healthy in a different way for me.  Rather than telling me what I should eat, it talked about what I was missing out on every time I didn't eat something healthy.  Eat a hamburger for lunch?  Okay, that's fine, but you just missed out on the opportunity to eat all sorts of cancer-fighting, age-slowing, body-enhancing nutrients.  Your choice :)

The other reason you should be eating kale is because KALE CHIPS ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD DELICIOUS!

My mom sent me a recipe for kale chips, and to be honest, I didn't think they would be that impressive.  I would surprised by all the positive reviews so I decided to give it a go.  Holy cow, they are one of the tastiest things I have ever made, and they do indeed taste similar to potato chips (better, I would venture).  The texture is outstanding - the perfect thing to make if you are craving something salty and crunchy.

Kale (mine was starting to get wilt-y and I was worried it wouldn't work.  It worked; no problems)
Olive oil or cooking spray
Seasonings of your choice
Parchment paper

1) Preheat oven to 350*.

2) Separate the leaves from the ribs. I do this by flatting the leaf and running a knife down both sides of the stem/rib.

3) Wash kale and thoroughly dry.  It is important the leaves are very dry if you want them to crunch up. 

4) Break the kale into bite size pieces.

5) Cover a cooking sheet with parchment paper.  Lay the kale in a layer over the sheet.  I did one layer only - I am not sure if you can stack the kale on top of each other and have it turn out, but you probably could.

6) Spray the kale with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil.  I prefer the cooking spray - less calories and easier. Then, sprinkle with flavoring of your choice.  Here, you can get really creative.  However, I thought a heavy amount would be a good idea - I was wrong.  Try to season a bit sparingly.  One I tried with Italion Seasoning, which was great.  Another I tried with Lawry's seasoning salt and curry powder - way too salty.  Sea salt would be good and I think next time I will try ranch powder.  I'll update this post if I find any awesome new combinations.

7) Cook the kale for five minutes.  After that, I like to take it out and flip the leaves over and spray the underside with cooking spray as well.

8) Cook for about another five minutes but be paranoid about it.  I burned mine quite a bit the first time by overcooking only two minutes or so.  If you are worried, err on the side of taking them out too soon and keep taste testing as they are cooking. 
                                                 Those above are BAD kale chips :(
                                                 And these are GOOD kale chips :)

9) ENJOY! They are absolutely amazing and very low calorie. One cup chopped has only 34 calories. 

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