What foods do you reach for when you get an intense craving for something salty and crunchy? You KNOW there is absolutely no stopping until you have it, whatever it is. I’d say most folks reach for pretzels, chex mix, cheese doodles, or potato chips. Done. But in a grainless, anti-white-potato Paleo world, your best and healthiest option is… kale chips!
So what if you’ve never had kale before? Don’t worry. It’s super easy to prepare, and baking them into crispy, flavored chips will be a great way to start incorporating this cruciferous veggie into your diet. By itself, I’ll admit, kale is a little, well… grassy tasting. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of grass-flavored foods (although I’m sure there are some that are). BUT. If you prepare kale in the right way, and with the right seasonings, you’ll be amazed how flavorful and delicious it can be!
One of the many things I love about being Paleo is that I get to learn lots of new information about food, especially when it comes to new vegetables (to me) that I would have never touched before with a 10-foot pole. I’ll sheepishly admit, kale is one of those foods. Many people have heard of it, they know it’s green, and they know it’s healthy. They might have even looked at it in the grocery store or farmer’s market, but decided against buying it. And that’s pretty much the extent of it. So what is kale, exactly? It’s a leafy green vegetable related to broccoli, cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts. It’s a notorious superfood, which means it’s one of the healthiest things on the planet that you can eat! Why? Because it provides a ridiculous amount of vitamin K per cup (684%!!), as well as vitamins C (134%), A (206%), fiber, and a ton of essential minerals and nutrients! It keeps your eyes and bones healthy, and its antioxidant properties help to fight off cancer. And when it’s cooked, it can even lower your cholesterol and ward off heart disease! Now, I’m no medical expert, but this sounds like a pretty good deal to me!
Kale also comes in a bunch of different varieties, too. There’s curly, Red Russian, Premier, Redbor, Kamome Red, Siberian, and even one called Walking Stick! I just bought what I was able to find at my local farmer’s market, which happened to be Lacinato kale, more fondly known as “dino kale” for its thick, bubbly, textured leaves reminiscent of dinosaur skin. While you can make kale chips with just about any variety, the most popular kind tends to be curly kale because it’s sweeter and milder. However, it’s really a matter of preference, which also highlights the beauty of cooking at home – you get to decide! In fact, I really liked the Lacinato kind because it produced chips that came out more like you would think a chip should look, not like a dried up piece of entree garnish (which is what the curly stuff reminds me of).
In sum, I encourage you to give this kale chip recipe a try, even if you’ve never eaten kale in your life! The Parmesan cheese really helps to get them nice and crispy, and adds a nutty saltiness to the overall flavor. If your body does not tolerate dairy, you can certainly leave out the cheese altogether, and these chips will still taste delicious with just the garlic and a little sprinkling of sea salt.
Share your thoughts with us… how else do you incorporate kale into your diet?
- 1 bunch fresh kale (I used Lacinato variety)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced/grated
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- VERY LIGHT sea salt to taste (or maybe none at all, if Parmesan is salty enough for you as-is)
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Thoroughly wash your kale!
- Tear the leafy parts away from the center stems, and then tear the leafy parts into pieces. They will not really shrink at all, so be sure to tear them to a chip size that you like. Discard the center stems.
- Toss your kale in a large bowl with the olive oil, garlic, and shredded Parmesan. The kale pieces should be thoroughly coated, but not sopping/drippy.
- Arrange kale in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Make sure there isn't any overlap, so that each piece gets nice and crispy!
- VERY LIGHTLY sprinkle the pieces with sea salt, if you wish. (Parmesan cheese is pretty salty by itself, so if you're not sure yet how salty you like them, you might want to skip this step.)
- Bake for about 15 minutes.
- Gently remove from baking sheet with your fingers (a spatula will likely break them, if you used Lacinato kale).
- Enjoy right away, or store in an airtight container for 2 days.
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