Are you a sweet or salty person?
Sweets have always been my kryptonite, so searching for ways to satisfy my sweet tooth without experiencing blood sugar spikes and crashes was my priority.
However, when my hubby and I met in Boulder, we both had grad students’ budgets.
We loved finding happy hours with $2 beers and half-priced appetizers.
Because Boulder is a strange and wonderful place, kale chips happened to be one of the most popular menu items at our favorite restaurant, so we thought… it could be worth a try.
We were floored.
These chips were – dare I say – better than regular potato chips.
But that grad student budget motivated my sweet hubby to do a little research (one of his favorite things) and figure out how we could make these at home.
Here’s what we learned: there’s a right way and a soggy way to prepare kale chips.
I don’t feel this black-and-white about many things, but if you’re going to call something a “chip,” it should taste, look and sound like a chip, right? Right.
After testing all the variables – best oven temp, when to flip, how to slice, etc – I’ve compiled our tried and true recipe for crunchy kale chips below.
Before you start making (and devouring) these chips, help me honor my research-loving, recipe-perfecting husband by humoring me and checking out these “fun” facts about kale:
ADDING NATURAL FATS TO YOUR KALE RECIPE FOSTERS GREATER NUTRIENT ABSORPTION, MENTAL HEALTH AND SATIATION.
Kale actually contains a small dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which happen to have positive effects on brain health, lowering the risk of diabetes and helping to work through depression.
Studies have shown that adding a little more natural fat to your favorite kale recipe helps our bodies absorb more of kale’s densely packed vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Think olive oil, avocado, nuts, or seeds.
As you add olive oil to your kale chips, know that you’re doing your body a favor by pairing your kale with the exact ingredient it needs to benefit from maximal nutrient absorption, not to mention greater levels of satiation.
KALE IS ONE OF THE MOST NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS
Speaking of nutrient absorption, it’s remarkable how many nutritional needs you can meet through plants!
One serving of kale delivers over 100% the daily recommended value of Vitamins A, C, and K1.
It has more Vitamin C than an orange, more vitamin A than any other dark leafy green and more absorbable calcium than milk (more on calcium in a moment).
Would it surprise you to hear that inaddition to omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, iron, calcium, carotenoids and phytonutrients, 2 cup of kale also contains 5.8 grams of protein? That’s almost twice as much protein in one tablespoon of almond butter (3.6 grams).
Not bad for a veggie!
KALE SUPPORTS BONE HEALTH (EVEN MORE THAN MILK)
Kale is a low-oxalate food, which enhances its calcium absorption. Oxalates are chemical present in certain plants and animal products that inhibit the absorption of calcium.
While milk is also low in oxalates, research from Creighton University shows that calcium absorption rates are higher in kale than milk.
If you prepare 3-4 leaves of kale into a salad(or a generous serving of kale chips), you’ll have more calcium in front of you than one cup of milk. (315 grams of clacium in 3.5 cups of kale vs. 310 grams in one cup of milk).
The combination of high levels of Vitamin K1 and elevated absorption rate of calcium make kale chips an excellent food for bone health.
That’s right. Chips = strong bones. You read it here first.
KALE IS AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY SUPERFOOD
Now, I have to admit that environmental factors aren’t on top of mind when I grocery shop. I’m happy if I can eat a plant at each meal, which tricking my baby into eating something other than breast milk!
My sweet husband has gently taught me the value of choosing seasonal, local foods with minimal environmental impact.
I few things I learned through our journey together involve kale’s heartiness. It can survive through harsh weather conditions, from Minnesota winters to severe droughts, making it suitable to grow almost anywhere.
Farmers may spare their kale plants from pesticides, as kale is unusually resistant to pests. At this point in our farming history, kale has become one of the heartiest organically grown plants in the country.
When purchased in season, kale is far more feasible for a modest budget, while cutting the environmental costs brought on by food transport or pesticides.
In fact, just last weekend, like crazy hoarder people, we bought 15 bunches of kale and collards for $15 at our local farmer’s market.
Not all of that kale will be used for kale chips, but it goes to show that eating locally can be affordable, when you know where (and when) to look.
We’re certainly not perfect, but we’re working to be mindful about choosing seasonal, local foods that are gentler on the environment.
The truth is: food tastes better when it’s grown naturally in the season that allows it to thrive. Kale is particularly vibrant late summer and into fall, so this is the perfect time to shop for organic kale at the lowest cost.
Kale chips greatly benefit your mind, body, budget and environment.
Win. Win. Win… Win.