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DIY Crispy, Sweet, and Salty Kale Chips

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kale chips

A large portion of my childhood consisted of living on a macrobiotic diet. As a kid, I wasn't much of a fan of brown rice, beans, burdock, seaweed, squash, and steamed leafy vegetables. I especially hated kale and after exiting that type of dietary lifestyle I thought that I would never eat kale again for the rest of my life. But something happened. My tastebuds changed and as I became a "grown-up" I started to crave the clean, fresh taste of the ingredients commonly found in macrobiotics. 10-year-old me would not believe it, but I often miss that food from my childhood. Now our pantry is full of seaweed, our vegetable crisper is full of leaves, and we always have a container of umeboshi plums on hand (which is amazing on a steamed ear of corn, by the way). Next to Hungarian food (my obligation by birth), Japanese is my favorite cuisine. And oddly enough, I now love kale.

Kale, as I am sure you have noticed, is all the rage right now, which is pretty refreshing in light of the other recent trend foods out there (bacon, cupcakes, mac 'n' cheese...). It's incredibly healthy, versatile, and hearty.

One of my favorite ways to eat kale is via kale chips. Raw foodists make these by dehydrating pieces of flavored kale (which is how the ones you buy by the bag are made). They are either very simply seasoned, or are smothered in a nut or seed-based sauce before making them crisp. Unfortunately, most of us don't own a dehydrator. But luckily, you can easily make kale chips in your oven! It does change some things. Lightly dressing the kale is very important, so that the oven has a chance to make all the water evaporate -- otherwise you are left with soggy pieces of chewiness. And the oven-variety is best consumed right away -- crisp and even a little warm. It's not really for storing -- but I mean, why would you NOT want to finish a whole bowl in one sitting?

A crispy, sweet, and salty delight.


Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
Yield: one medium-sized bowl of chips

1 bunch curly kale (curly works well, vs. Dino or Red Russian, since all the curls trap the sauce)
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari (or BRAGG Liquid Aminos, or Coconut Secret coconut aminos to make it soy-free)
4 teaspoons agave
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
4 Tablespoons hulled (white) sesame seeds
(You could also add a pinch of cayenne for a kick.)

1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

2. Tear kale off of stems and into bite–sized pieces (remember: kale will shrink a lot while baking, so don't make them too small).

3. Wash kale in a big bowl of water. Drain, and dry as well as you can (preferably in a salad spinner).

kale being washed

4. Whisk all other ingredients together and pour over kale a little at a time. Massage the sauce into the kale pieces so that they are well coated. You may not use all of the sauce. Only pour enough to JUST coast the leaves. You don't want it dripping.

5. Lay the kale pieces out on two parchment-paper-lined cookie sheets in a thin layer.

kale on baking sheet

6. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, turning the pieces once or twice while baking. Ovens vary so you may want to keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t start browning (which would make them bitter).

7. Once crisp, remove from oven and serve in a bowl. Eat right away.

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