Happy Boxing Day, Cradled in Joy followers! I’ve gotten you a present: kale chips! Here, try a bite…
Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize your computer doesn’t have the food teleporter attachment. Well, I hope you don’t mind my chewing sounds while I type. What? You don’t hear those either? Well, that’s nice at least!
You’re probably wondering: why is a birth doula giving me a recipe for kale chips? The answer is simple: Whether you’re growing a fetus, feeding a picky toddler, or just plain going about your business, kale is phenomenal for your health. It’s high in fiber; vitamins A, C, and K; minerals including calcium, iron, and manganese; and, as vegetables go, it’s even quite protein-rich. I encourage you to try it served all sorts of ways–in soups, as a salad green, blended into a smoothie, sautéed with garlic in butter. But kale is a strong-tasting vegetable, and not every toddler (or, let’s be honest, every mama) enjoys leafy greens as much as we know we should.
But you know what I bet you–and your toddler–enjoy more than you should? Potato chips. I know my four year old can be set into a mania of wheedling by just the sight of a potato chip bag–“Please, Mommy, PLEEEEAAASE?!?!” But what’s more, she can be set into the same frenzy by a bag of kale chips. That’s right, my preschooler begs for kale. (And, to preserve the mystery, I confess to limiting her intake: “Oh, gee, honey, I dunno. I reckon you’re gonna have to eat more of your [whatever else I served, that is doubtless less healthy] before I can give you any more kale!”)
So here’s my recipe, simplified from my friend Chelsea’s Real Food‘s utterly-amazing-but-too-complex-for-simple-cooks-like-me version (hers is available Saturdays at the Athens Farmers Market, and you know you want some!):
1 bunch of kale (I prefer crinkly varieties–they maintain more height, like potato chips with ridges, but you may prefer the smooth kind)
a couple Tbsp lemon juice (bottled is fine by me, though Chelsea uses fresh)
a couple Tbsp olive oil
about 1 tsp salt
a goodly shake (1/4 cup?) of nutritional yeast (yes, I know, this is a semi-obscure ingredient, but not expensive; in the Athens, Ohio, area it can be found at the Farmacy or the Bulk Food Depot, and it is crucial to this recipe)
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and nutritional yeast.
Wash your kale, rip it off the stalks and into bits about 4″ across. Discard the stalks (or save them for making broth!). Toss the kale pieces in the dressing, then rub them briskly in your hands until they reduce in volume by almost half.
Lay the kale pieces in a single layer in a food dehydrator and process till done. Time will vary depending on your dehydrator (mine is an antique with no fan and takes about a day; the nicer kind are done in a couple hours). You can also dehydrate food in a low oven, about 200*, though I’m the sort of dum-dum who manages to burn everything that way. Dehydrators are only about $25 these days, and my family eats rather a lot of kale chips and apple chips (bonus recipe: slice apples and put them in the dehydrator. That’s all).