Monday, May 30, 2011

Spicy Kale Chips

 (Note: This picture is pre-baking. I forgot to take a picture when they came out of the oven... 
and there aren't any chips left to photograph.)

I feel like kale, like most leafy greens, gets neither the recognition nor the respect it deserves. More than once, I've had a cashier at the grocery store ask me, "What's that?" This question kind of blows my mind, because if you can't identify it (and hi, you're working at a grocery store), you probably aren't eating it, either. And you should be!

 I will admit that I haven't always been a fan of kale or its family members. I remember my mom making it for my brother and me a few times, but we weren't having it. After going vegan, though, I realized I'd have to make friends with not just kale, but collard greens and spinach, too. And now, kale and I have moved from friendship to love affair. Especially in the form of kale chips.

Chock full of vitamins and minerals, kale boasts loads of health benefits. Kale has high levels of vitamins A, C, and K; calcium, fiber, and beta-carotene, too, are present in large amounts. You can also find omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, potassium, and magnesium in kale. Together, these antioxidants strengthen our bones and teeth; protect and maintain heathy eyes and skin; prevent the formation of cancerous cells; promote regular digestion; work as an anti-inflammatory agent in arthritis and asthma; lower blood pressure; promote a healthy immune system. Seriously, there's no reason to not eat it!

So, I bring you one of my favorite ways to eat kale. It's so easy and so yummy, and you'll probably have a hard time not eating them all in one day. Or is that just me?

You'll need:

- 1 lb of fresh kale
- olive oil
- sea salt and red pepper flakes to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and dry kale. Remove hard stems. Tear or cut leaves into smaller, edible pieces.
2. In a large bowl, toss leaves with 1 tbsp olive oil. You want to just lightly coat the leaves of oil; too much oil will make your leaves limp and greasy. If you need more oil to coat leaves, add oil 1/2 tbsp at a time.
3. Lay leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with sea salt and red pepper flakes to taste.
4. Bake 12-13 minutes. Half way through, you can toss them on the sheet for more even baking.

These can burn easily, so keep an eye on them! You can also toss on cayenne pepper for a smoky flavor.

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