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
|Saturated Fat||0 g|
|Dietary Fiber||3 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.