How to Make Your Own Healthy Baked Kale Chips

I’m on the path towards edible righteousness, attempting to cut out all the junk and focus on healthy, local food – but I have one serious obstacle that keeps bringing me down:

I love to snack.

I work from ‘home,’ which means one of two things: I’m either cooped up all day at the little wooden table in our kitchen, or I’m holed up for hours at a coffee shop. Either options inevitably puts me way too close to tempting munchies. And let’s face it, my willpower is weak.

Snacking is something that I simply can’t not do. I love to munch, my belly is always begging me for treats, and frankly, I just really adore food.

My first experience with kale came when my lady friend Teresa (who is a truly phenomenal gardener/baker, this chick defines “green thumb”) moved away to Texas. She bequeathed me one cherry tomato plant, one Tabasco pepper bush, a chard, and three little kale stalks. I had never eaten kale before, but had seen a few recipes for kale chips – so I decided to give it a try.

The first three batches were a complete disaster. I was using this kale chip recipe, which instructed me to bake them for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. I burned those poor kale leaves to an inedible crisp every time.

Eventually, I realized this recipe simply wasn’t working, so I decided to do things my own way – and now, I get perfectly crisp, perfectly flavorful kale chips. 

Here’s your seriously simple, seriously delicious guide
to baking your own batch of seasoned kale chips:

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What you’ll need:

1. KaleBonus if you buy it local at a farmers market or grow your own!
2. Salt and/or your favorite seasonings
I am all about garlic salt and black pepper; keep it simple.
3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4. A Sookie Sheet
Or, in my case, many cookie sheets. 

How to make ‘em:

1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.

2. Prep your kale. I buy mine from local farmers, so they’re often full of little caterpillar buddies – which means I have to take about 15 minutes to scrutinize each leaf and save any critters who might be snacking on my kale. Rinsing your kale is recommended, but be sure to properly dry it afterwards. I just got a salad spinner, and aside from being really fun, it’s really essential for drying out the kale.

3. Break up each big leaf into bite-sized pieces. Mine are usually about two inches long, with some smaller pieces mixed in. Tear the leaf along the thick spine, and toss that spine afterwards. It’s a bit tough to chew on compared to the flaky leaf parts.

4. Toss all the kale into a big bowl, and drizzle olive oil over it – the amount depends on preference and how much kale you’re cooking, but be sure that each leaf is slightly coated. Season to your liking, but don’t be shy with the salt! It really does a lot to overpower kale’s natural bitter flavor – and makes your kale chips taste just like potato chips.

20120912-114806.jpg5. Arrange the pieces on a cookie sheet. I try to get ‘em all pretty flat, but they inevitably overlap a little – which is fine, kale shrinks A LOT when it bakes. Just don’t make it a big jumbled mess; you’ll need to toss ‘em halfway through.

6. Put your cookie sheet into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Halfway through, pull the tray(s) out, and flip each piece of kale to ensure even crisping.

7. After 20 minutes, check on your kale to see if each piece is entirely dried out. I often end up pulling out the majority of my kale chips, then putting a handful back in the oven to finish up – the pieces are never perfectly uniform, so some may take a little longer.

Final step: Devour your delicious kale chips, totally guilt free. In the rare event that you don’t finish your entire batch in one sitting, you can store kale chips for a few days in airtight containers. Just be sure that there is no moisture in any of the kale chips – that’ll make the rest of ‘em soggy. And no one likes a soggy kale chip.

Did you know kale is loaded with antioxidants, and provides 100% of your daily Vitamin A, C, and K in just one cup? Yeah, it’s that good.

Have you ever made your own kale chips?
Have any suggestions or tips to add to my how-to?
Do you love kale chips as much as I do?

For more delicious foodie recipes, and healthy eating tips (with a few totally not healthy indulgences mixed in), check out my For The Foodies board on Pinterest.

Eating local in Tallahassee is easier (and tastier) than it may seem

Call it ignorance or naivety, but I always carried a stigma that Tallahassee simply wasn’t the place to indulge in a locally-minded lifestyle. Places like Chattanooga and Boulder are rampant with the local mentality, but Florida just doesn’t seem to have hopped on that train yet.

After checking out the Locavore Index 2012, a chart that ranks states based on commitment to locally-sourced foods, I was disappointed to see that Florida not only ranked poorly – we were at the very bottom of the list. Not cool, Sunshine State. So, to further my adventures in local eating, I journeyed to three different places this week that showcased some of the best locally grown and owned destinations in town. Check ‘em out:

The Cool Cow

The vacant space next to Fat Sandwich on Railroad Avenue has seen many eatery ideas, but it wasn’t until an ice creamery popped up that the void was finally filled. Walking into this joint isn’t exactly impressive – but the simplicity is part of the experience.

The Cool Cow offers six flavors daily. Chocolate and vanilla are always on the menu, but the four other varieties are swapped out every two days – a total of 200 flavors rotate through the soft serve machines. On the day of our visit, we were offered Georgia orange, kiwi frozen yogurt, berry sorbet, and mocha hazelnut.

I went for the mocha hazelnut – and it was outrageous.

Topped with rainbow sprinkles and marshmallows, my cup teeming with creamy mocha ice cream was beyond tasty, but Niko’s treat took the cake. He ordered a banana split, and got everything on it – which was a solid decision. His chocolate, vanilla, and mocha hazelnut ice cream plops were layered thick with hot fudge, caramel drizzle, waffle cone bits, fat dollops of whipped cream, and even a cherry on top. It was pure perfection.

The mocha oreo milkshake my buddy ordered also deserved an honorable mention, but the part of our cool experience that deserves the biggest ovation is the service we received. Our ice cream guru was not only a wizard with a can of whipped cream, he handled everything with the best attitude I have ever encountered in the food industry. He was kind, courteous, and complimented Niko’s choices of toppings. He’s the kind of guy you leave a 40% tip for. Kudos, Cool Cow – we’ll be back.

The Tallahassee Farmers Market

I am a huge fan of produce markets – so much so that I am dedicating a portion of the 2013 trip to exploring as many as I can. Niko and I have made a few trips out to the Thomasville Farmers Market in Georgia, but we had never taken the quick trip to the convenient one located in Market Square.

After a few weeks of failed Saturday morning attempts, we finally made it out to explore the covered pavilion loaded with local goods. Some of my favorite farms were in attendance, including Turkey Hill and Orchard Pond Organics. The pavilion wasn’t huge, but it was certainly big enough to hold every bit of produce I needed.

We strolled around the stands before making our final selections, feasting our eyes on a huge assortment of goods. There were plump peaches, thickly husked corncobs, freshly cut sunflower stalks, ripe heirloom tomatoes, and more. My bounty was a harvest of ripe blueberries, Japanese eggplant, okra, lemon and lime, and more tomatoes than I know what to do with – plus a little rosemary plant!
 Hands down, this is the best fresh produce market in town, with friendly farmers, great edible offerings, and unbelievably reasonable prices. Whoever said eating healthy and local is expensive clearly never stopped by a farmers market. [Read more…]