The Daily Beet

04 Oct Kale is a Noun

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Before I began this plant-strong journey, quite frankly I only knew of kale in one form.  It was the garnish on the famed “diet platter,” you know, the one with a burger, cling peach, lettuce, oh, and cottage cheese.  But, these days, the word “kale” is either used as an adjective or a noun.  I prefer the noun version, though,  because I think it is the best and most nutritious way to eat this green piece of delicious-ness.  Whether you steam it, braise it, or eat it raw, it is a rich flavor,  which with time, grows on you, especially if you are new to it.

But anymore, it is used as an adjective.  I was at a grocery store last week, where there was a huge crowd discussing a “new” kale and spinach phyllo lasagna.  I overheard a woman say to another store patron, “I heard that kale is really good for you, better grab a few.”  The reality is that kale was the sixth ingredient, and whooda thunk it?  Especially since the kale got top billing on the package’s front.

Here’s the skinny on kale:

Kale Nutrition Facts


 Fat0 g
 Saturated Fat0 g
 Carbohydrates8 g
 Cholesterol0 mg
 Protein2 g
 Dietary Fiber3 g

Kale – Cooked – (1 cup, chopped)

* The source of the above values is the USDA National Nutrient Database

Beautiful, right?  Purely delicious.  Salt free.  Oil free.  And then, someone decided to invent the kale chip and with that came the parting of the sea and singing of the angels.  I hear people all the time say, “Better get some kale chips…kale is good for me, right?”  Yes, it is.  But kale chips are packaged in a way to have you believe that the 2.5 servings in each container, count them, 2.5 servings, are really good for you.  The reality, is that most people eat a container at one sitting.  You can do the math,  a cup of raw, delicious kale contains 35 calories and no fat or sodium.  Whereas, a prepared cup of manufactured kale chips contains 140 calories, where 80 of those calories are from fat.  Albeit from nuts, but still, a fat is a fat.

Oh, and the other thing?  I can go to a farmer’s market and get freshly picked kale for $1.00 a pound.  That’s right, and at the market, I get to pick which leaves I want to add to my basket. With a pound of kale, I can make a lot of kale chips.  By weight, it would be my one pound equaling eight containers of ready-made commercial kale chips.

And, here’s the real math.  For $1.00, and a pound of raw kale, I get to make the equivalent of the same purchase that would cost me $63.92 if I purchased the commercial, ready-made kale chips that seem to be everywhere these days.  Mine contain no nuts, no salt, just plain, delicious kale.

So, what’s a kale lover to do?  A dear friend professed his addiction to commercial kale chips.  I suggested that if he wanted to save money and feel great, he needed to deep-six the store bought kale chips and make his own.  This guy was eating two containers a night, and wondered why he couldn’t lose weight.

What is a kale chip lover to do?  The answer is easy. It is so simple, that you will shrug your shoulders and say, “Why didn’t I think of this?”  Of course, you will make your own!  You do not even need a food dehydrator to make your own kale chips.  This recipe came to me from Ann Esselstyn, Rip’s Mom, and it is the best recipe I know.

Homemade Kale Chips

-Pound of raw kale, stripped and shredded into four inch pieces.  Make sure you strip the kale, because if not, the stems will take longer to dehydrate.

-Juice of two limes (lemons will do, but I prefer limes).

-3/4 cup of nutritional yeast-mixed with garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put kale in a bowl, and pour lime juice over the greens.  Mix with your hands, so that all of the leaves are moistened with juice.

Very generously, sprinkle the nutritional yeast on all of the leaves, and mix with your fingers, so that all of the kale is coated.

Get a big cookie sheet, line it with parchment paper.  Place the greens on the sheet, and arrange them so that they do not cover one another.

Place on the middle rack of your oven, close the door, and allow them to bake for about 30 minutes.

How do you tell they are done?  Well, they will turn a very, very dark green in color.  Some of the leaves might take flight in the oven.  They are crispy, light and dry.  Varies with your oven.

You won’t have to worry about storage of these, because everyone will scarf these things up in a few minutes.  Great as a side dish with a veggie burger, or even perfect to serve to friends when they come over.

My Closing Comments about Kale

 In life, pure and simple always wins.  Kale is the mainstay of my daily diet.  Sometimes, I eat it with oatmeal.  I throw it in soups, pasta sauce (I make a mean kale pesto), use it instead of lettuce when I make a BLT (beets, lettuce, and tomato).  My point is this. Keep it simple.  Make it count.  And most of all,  remember, that KALE is a noun.  And what I mean is this…keep it kale-simple, and forget about the razzle-dazzle that is taking kale away from its purest form.

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Char Nolan for Engine 2
Char Nolan

Char Nolan is a blog contributor and Engine 2 Extra Coach. She's been plant-strong for almost five years. From Philadelphia, she works in the plant-based whole foods arena, and is also the "vegan features writer," for the "Town Dish." She's lost a great deal of weight from being plant-strong, practices yoga, and is always dabbling in her kitchen to create new, plant-strong recipes. Armed with a degree in public health, Char also holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from e-Cornell.

  • CandaceRoache
    Posted at 10:50h, 04 October

    I will have to try chips. I love kale in my green drink. Beans and greens. No recipe, whatever is in fridge.

  • Barbara Nicholson
    Posted at 11:24h, 04 October

    Thank you for this yummy sounding recipe! I have always loved kale chips, but used to make it tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. I’m looking forward to trying this version. I’m just getting my palate used to the nutritional yeast taste. A little different at first, but I’m getting used to it.

  • Sharon
    Posted at 12:27h, 04 October

    Any chance of getting the kale pesto recipe? Or can I just sub kale for the basil in the E2 book?

  • Barend Esterhuizen Pr Eng
    Posted at 13:35h, 04 October

    I am in South Africa and have never been able to find ‘KALE’; I again tried yesterday and went through an entire nursery, seedlings as well as seeds; does it go by another name? I found seeds for Fordhook Giant, but not sure if it is the same thing? We are getting our own veggie garden going this year 🙂

    What was also confusing is that the Spinach is labelled Spinach – Swiss Chard? Same thing?

    • Nick Cadwallender
      Posted at 14:15h, 08 October

      Fordhook Giant is a variety off Swiss Chard. Huge leaves, good flavor, great producer in the fall and spring garden.

    • Renkata Dimitrova
      Posted at 03:25h, 24 November

      in Netherland is boeren kool

  • Ginger
    Posted at 16:49h, 04 October

    I’ve always steered clear of kale chips because of all the nuts. I’ll have to give your version a try. Thank you

  • Darla
    Posted at 10:23h, 09 October

    I would love the kale pesto recipe!

  • The Happy Pear
    Posted at 06:17h, 10 October

    We’re big fans of kale! Kale chips are amazing….fantastic way to get a kid to eat up their greens without any fuss!

  • Zee
    Posted at 22:05h, 14 October

    I’ve been giving my 9 month old pureed kale for months he loves it…. i puree it and throw it in homemade breads too 🙂 I am also proud to say my 2 year old eats broccoli no problem. Im doing something right 😉

  • Lora Campo
    Posted at 14:29h, 21 November

    I make my own kale chips, as well! Delicious, easy to make and nutritious. It took me a while to figure out the right temperature in the oven so that the chips don’t end up burnt, but after a few tries they turned out great.

  • GC
    Posted at 18:39h, 21 January

    this is great. I love kale chips but have only seen the ones drenched in cashews. No thanks to fat and anaphylaxis.

  • CarrieS
    Posted at 14:36h, 05 October

    Char, I’d love to get the recipe for your mean kale pesto!

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