Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kale chips (oven or dehydrator)

     I know most people are thinking- Kale chips sound absolutely disgusting; and I would've agreed with you two months ago, but after going through my cleanse I realized that most of the things I snack on either have a lot of sugar, a lot of dairy or a lot of gluten. Three things that I'm supposed to be minimizing.
"Cheesy" Kale Chips
     A few months ago while still on the cleanse my boyfriend and I were going to the movies. I'm sorry but I am one of those people who can't sit through a movie without popcorn or smuggling in candy so the idea of sitting through a movie while he munched on popcorn sounded miserable. There was a Trader Joe's close to the theater so we stopped in and I grabbed a pack of freeze-dried raspberries and a bag of walnuts and a bag of "cheesy" kale chips. I say "cheesy" because they're vegan and actually have no cheese whatsoever but they are SO good. Every time I go to the movies now I either sneak that in or else a trail mix of freeze dried fruit and walnuts. May sound weird, but don't knock it til you try it. I will warn you though Kale chips are something that take a while to get used to. The first one you'll be like "ew no" but then you'll find yourself grabbing another and soon you'll have finished the entire bag and are trying to stuff it in between your couch cushions before anyone notices (maybe that's just me). They have some flavors I haven't tried yet like chocolate (ehhh..), BBQ and Ranch but I've tried the Chipotle and the Cheesy and those are my favorites (although don't except them to taste like a Cheetoh, they taste cheesy but they don't taste like cheese but if you're dairy free like me you take what you can get and honestly dairy isn't really good for anyone). There's also original which is good but its kind of bland. My favorite brand of kale chips is in whole foods and is called Kale Krunch although as you can see this stuff will cost you 6$ a bag and will only last you about one sitting (again that could just be me).
     I quickly realized that my love for Kale chips was going to be an expensive one however I decided I needed to find some way to make them at home because of all the health benefits of kale (and honestly what better way to eat healthy- it's like a vitamin disguised as a potato chip, kinda). So after searching around I purchased a 30$ dehydrator on Amazon and got to work making homemade kale chips. This has been one of the best purchases I've ever made. However if you're afraid to commit, you can try a batch of these in the oven (I'll explain how below), but if it doesn't work out don't blame me. Also these ingredients and the amount is flexible. Try what you want and taste it along the way but keep in mind the dehydrator enhances certain flavors (the lemon juice) so it may take a little experimenting to get them the way you want.

Ingredients for Crispy Kale Chips
  • 1 bunch of Kale
  • 2 teaspoon Chili Powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • Optional: a little bit of cayenne pepper if you want them spicy
Ingredients for "Cheesy" Kale Chips
  • 1 bunch of Kale
  • 1 medium red pepper (chopped up without seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 cup of cashews (soaked for a few hours)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon of agave nectar (Agave is a great sugar substitute if you haven't heard of it) 
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
kale leaves drying on paper towels
  1. Pull small chunks (about 2 inches) of the kale leaves from the stalks and put in a bowl of water; do not use the stalks as they can taste bitter
  2. Swirl Kale leaves around in water until they have been rinsed off then if you have a salad spinner use this to dry them (I don't so I put them in a strainer for a few minutes then laid them out on paper towels and patted them dry with more paper towels) 
  3. Put Kale leaves back into a bowl and add seasonings (if you are making Cheesy Kale chips put all ingredients in a food processor (starting with the cashews then adding the rest) before pouring over the Kale leaves in the bowl. ***if you do not have a food processor, you CAN use a blender but it will be a little tedious- I put in 1/3 of my cashews added a little water then turned on the blender, added more cashews more water, etc etc, then I added even more water and added the red pepper, this turned out alright because the dehydrator took the water out of it anyways but I wouldn't suggest it if you're doing your kale chips in the oven. ***
  4. Using your hands gently "massage" the seasonings into the kale leaves for a couple minutes making sure they're distributed pretty evenly and all the kale leaves are saturated
  5. Crispy Kale chips in dehydrator
  6. Taste test and add more or less of seasonings accordingly
  7. For the dehydrator- lay kale leaves out on dehydrator trays being careful not to overcrowd or overlap (they won't completely dehydrate). My dehydrator doesn't have a temperature setting so I just turned it on and they were done in about 4 hours but you can use the texture as a guide.  The chips should be crunchy and crispy and if you used the cheesy recipe the coating should be completely dry.  If your dehydrator does have a temperature setting I have read that 118 degrees for 6 hours is best.
  8. For the oven- Place parchment paper over a baking sheet and set oven to the lowest setting (somewhere around 180 degrees). Place kale chips on baking sheet. This will make more than one batch so cover and store remaining mixture in fridge. Cook kale chips for 2-4 hours, flipping them halfway through cooking time. Check to make sure they are crispy and crunchy and coating is completely dry. 
  9. Storage- store extra kale chips in a tupperware container for up to one week in a cool, dry place (cabinet/pantry). To help keep out moisture place uncooked rice in a paper towel and close off the top with a rubber band (making a kind of rice bundle) and place in the tupperware with the chips to absorb excess moisture
Finished Cheesy Kale chips!

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