Healthy Kale Chips for Snack Food

The Link, Autumn 2017
| by Louise Racine |

Certainly you will have heard of the health benefits of kale which has become a bit of a nutritional superstar over the past few years. It’s likely no surprise you can add it to smoothies, soups and stews or as a salad green. What about using kale as a snack food?

Health foods stores sell packages of kale chips which are delicious and healthier (albeit much more expensive) alternatives to potato chips. However, since this hardy, leafy green plant is readily available from our gardens and markets well into late fall why not experiment with making your own?

“Culinary experts love kale’s versatility…”

Perhaps you’ve tried making kale chips without success, which is something I hear often. The key to any good chip is crispiness. To achieve that with kale chips, it’s important to spread them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them at a low temperature. For flavour, you can simply toss the rinsed and then towel-dried leaves with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. However, I prefer to add a bit more texture and flavour (and nutrition) by coating them with nuts/seeds and some spices.

While there are several common varieties of kale that grow locally, the best one for kale chips is the curly type since there are more crevices for the coating to adhere to. However, any type of kale leaf will work fine.
If you’re not the gardening type, here are some tips when shopping for kale. Getting it from a farmers’ market generally will mean you are getting a fresh crop. This is one vegetable that is easy to source locally. Store kale in a bag in the crisper of your fridge and plan to use it in some way within a week, otherwise the leaves will start to turn yellow.

Because kale is cold hardy, it’s an ideal crop choice for home gardeners in our area as it will tolerate frost.
Kale deserves the recognition it gets as a superfood because it is packed with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One of the vitamins that makes kale king is vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting and also helps your body use calcium to build healthy bones. Kale also contains an abundance of vitamins C and A.

And, there is more to kale’s nutritional punch! It also offers a decent amount of fibre to keep you regular and manage blood sugar levels. And, did you know that kale has twice as much protein as spinach? The antioxidants in this green beauty also play a key role in reducing inflammation and decreasing blood pressure which are conditions many people are trying to manage these days.

Culinary experts love kale’s versatility in any season. Young kale leaves are great in salads, chopped kale boosts texture, colour and nutrition in soups and stews. Lightly sautéed or steamed kale makes a tasty side for any dish or a nest for eggs to start your day off powerfully.

Everyone appreciates that kale is also relatively inexpensive and more robust than spinach or lettuce.
Like all superstars, kale sometimes unjustly gets a bad rap just for being too good. So, if this leafy green is not one of your go-to vegetables perhaps you’ll now consider adding it to your fall menu rotation.