Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kale Chips Are the New Normal

The first time I served my trusting husband kale chips, he gave me one of those looks that says, "What are you trying to pull here?"  He's come round to liking all manner of healthy and different (for him) food, but this offering challenged him. Expecting greens to substitute for chips seemed akin to suggesting a yummy spinach and moss smoothie for breakfast because it's so good for you!  He was obviously doubtful.

That all changed when he tasted them.  I had much less trepidation, but I was enchanted, too.  Now, when I want something crunchy alongside a sandwich, I make kale chips, with nary a protest from my beloved.  In fact, he so enjoys them that he asked me to make some as a side dish for pizza when his buddies were over. (Not a pairing I would have suggested, but I do not turn down any loved one who requests greens.) They were more skeptical than he ever was, but they were won over, too. I have the photographic proof.

They all dug in and, I hope, were forever changed by the experience.

OK.  Probably not, but I can wish for nutritional enlightenment for all the world, can't I?

Kale chips could help my wish come true.  They're crisp and salty, like potato chips, but packed with about 2000 percent more nutrients (I'm exaggerating only slightly, if at all), and they're easy to make: tear the leaves into chip-sized pieces, toss with olive oil and salt, and bake until crisp. The hardest work is removing the tough center ribs, and the biggest danger is getting green shards caught in your teeth.  As a bonus, we've found that the cheapest kale, the good old curly stuff, makes the best chips, so they're budget friendly, too.

I've even read that crumbled kale chips combined with grated Parmesan make a great topping for popcorn.  Sounds intriguing, but I never quite get round to that experiment.  We just eat them.  All.  And happily!

This really isn't a conspiracy to make you like something horrid strictly because it's healthy.  It's actually proof that healthy can be good, and that, when it comes to vegetables, it may not be the food you dislike, but the format.  Cook it differently, and it's a new experience--a pleasant one, even. In this case, limp and leathery is transformed into sweet and shattery.  A whole 'nother nosh.

Many, many people have beaten me to the kale chip band wagon, like writer Michael Pollan and blogger Deb of Smitten Kitchen, who together inspired me to try them. That's a lot of exposure.  Pretty soon it might be normal indeed to munch kale chips with a tuna salad sandwich or a burger with caramelized onions and smoked cheddar

Greens as fun food sounds like the best kind of new normal!

Kale Chips
Serves: Depends on how well you like 'em!

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil, if you're measuring (I don't)
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 

Rinse and dry the kale.  Remove the stems and touch center ribs. Cut or tear into large pieces.  Toss with olive oil and salt in a bowl or right on your sheet pan (line with parchment if you wish less clean up).   Arrange the leaves in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until crisp.  Place the baking sheet on a rack to cool.

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