Kids loving kale…no, really.

Shannon of the alternative-nugget recipe also gave me this handy little recipe for kale chips. She says her 4-year old loves them. I tried them at home, and lo and behold, my little Merrie ate them, lots of them, happily. So did I. And folks? That recipe? It’s kale. I mean, almost entirely kale.

Let’s talk about kale for a moment. It’s one of the most nutritious vegetables you can find, filled with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, phytonutrients (those handy cancer-fighting nutrients), fiber, and all kinds of essential amino acids. It grows well into winter, so it’s a terrific cold-weather option that you can buy locally. It even looks pretty growing in your garden.

I want to serve kale. I believe in kale and all it’s immune-boosting, health-restoring, nutrient-feeding green glory. But here’s the thing: if my family doesn’t eat it, if it just gets pushed to the side of the plate or spit out in a napkin, it doesn’t do us much good. That’s why I am delighted, nay thrilled, to pass along this most simple recipe for kale chips:

Wash a large bunch of kale
Remove stems
Tear off chip-sized pieces of leaves
Place on a tray that’s been lightly coated with olive oil
Sprinkle with salt (if you sprinkle with salt while the leaves are still wet, the salt just melts right into the leaves.
Place in low-heat oven until crispy

The truth is, it can be even easier than that: being lazy, I didn’t even coat the tray with olive oil the first two times I made it.

What’s low heat, you ask? I’ve tried it both times in a 250-degree oven, and it took about 20-25 minutes to get truly crispy. But a quick Google search showed me that far more people are using 350-degree ovens for shorter amounts of time (10 minutes seems average) to get the same result.

Lest you think that Merrie (or Shannon’s daughter) is one of those freaky kids who eschews junk food and subsists on a diet of tofu and beets, I assure you this is not the case. It seems that lots of kids like these chips. A University of Wisconsin extension project involved 201 elementary school students in making and tasting this recipe themselves. According to the study, 99% of the kids had never heard of kale before. After they made the kale chips, all but one of the kids tasted them. And 99 of them (just under half) liked the taste on the first try. Okay, not all of them liked them. But half? On the first try? Seems worth a shot, especially since kale is so inexpensive.

Let me know what you think of them.

UPDATE: I’ve been making this with purple kale. Today I tried it with the all-green kind, and I have to say, I much prefer the purple kind. Perhaps I just overcooked today’s batch, but it was thinner and less tasty than previous attempts. Merrie still ate it (and asked if we could bring a bunch to school for her friends – that will be the next test). I just didn’t think it was as good.

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13 Responses to “Kids loving kale…no, really.”

  1. 1 Kait February 15, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Interesting way to put a little more green in your diet. I’ll have to pick up a bunch next time I’m at the grocery store!

  2. 2 Andrea February 15, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    I found your website through Jenn too! This is a great idea and I will definitely try it.


  3. 3 boogiemum February 15, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    I came over her via Breed Em. Love your site and have made these kale chips several times. My kids and hubby love them! Keep up the good work!

  4. 4 SeaBird February 16, 2007 at 2:40 am

    Breed Em And Weep sent me here….love this idea! Definitely going to try it with my boys in a couple of months whe they are old enough for chip-type foods.

  5. 5 wifemothermaniac February 16, 2007 at 6:39 am

    Kale does grow super easy in the garden, here on the west coast it usually makes it through the winter too!

    I add kale to so many things, because it’s flavor is very mild and it’s in my back yard and it’s just so darn healthy (high in calcium too!) I mince it up in vegetable & chicken soups, pasta sauces, casseroles etc, you can add it to so many things without really impacting the taste too much. I’ll definitely try those chips!

  6. 6 ExPat Chef February 16, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Kale, huh? I do a similar trick with roasted green beans. Fantastic, popcorn-like addictive roasted green beans:

    1 lb. fresh green beans
    2 tbs. olive oil
    1 tbs. Balsamic vinegar
    kosher or sea salt to taste

    Preheat oven to 400° or use 350° Convection roast if you have a convection oven. Toss green beans with the oil and vinegar and spread them out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Roast in oven for about 15 minutes, watching carefully to be sure they do not over-brown. Look for nice golden brown color in patches. Be sure you get a good first helping. These are as addictive as popcorn, even for people who generally don’t like green beans.

  7. 7 Anna April 11, 2008 at 3:53 am

    Been meaning to try this for quite a while. Finally did it tonight – lots of olive oil, coarse salt, granulated kelp, and a touch of pepper. It passed the boy test. Thanks very much!

  8. 8 Linda Waddell December 3, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Hi Ali,
    It was great meeting you and your lovely family and sharing a special Thanksgiving Day (Garrison, 2008.) Paul has spoken of you often so it was especially fun getting to put names with faces.

    We arrived back to Southern California on Monday. I immediately went to the store to bring in a few necessities after being away for 10 days. For some reason Jim wasn’t amused when I handed him the lovely bouquet of Kale and no fruit, coffee or “salad fixins.” We had Kale chips for a snack before I was even unpacked and the first load of laundry in the LG.

    The chips even passed the 35 year old/kid (friend of Paul’s/house sitter) test. I surely could have spent the rest of the day reading your blogs but got as far as the egg test and decided to pay attention to the dog and unpack.

    I do hope we see you again. Hugs to adorable Merri and Charlotte. Hi to Blair.
    Best regards and Happy Holidays.
    Linda and Jim W.

  9. 9 Daphne February 7, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    We make these with chard — we actually did last night when daughter requested them. Even I like chard when it’s crispy and salted!

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