Kale may have peaked in terms of popularity, but it will always be at the pinnacle of nutrition when it comes to, well, anything.
Even spinach seems unsubstantial next to it, and the amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals per serving make kale one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence.
(That means kale is healthy as phuck.)
Kale has an ANDI* score of 1000.
To give you an idea of what that means in the world of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, having an ANDI score of 1000 is like being the coolest kid in school, having a shitload of money, and having superpowers.
*ANDI stands for Aggregate Nutrient-Density Index
It's excellent that more people are aware of this healthful, leafy powerhouse...
...but it's also tragic that so many people insist on purchasing kale in the most asinine way imaginable:
By buying a package of pre-made kale chips.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with kale chips per se...
...but there are plenty of reasons why buying them ready-to-eat will get your mug smiggidy-smacked if I ever catch you doing it.
1. Kale chips are a HUGE RIP-OFF.
A bunch of fresh kale will cost you, at most, $4 (and that's on the worst day of the week for your wallet in New York City).
Organic, local red and lacinato kale were just on sale for $2.49, and non-organic green, red and lacinato kale were selling for $1.99 in Chelsea.
A box/bag of kale chips will cost you about triple that in your best-case scenario.
The pineapple-coconut-banana-flavored ones shown below cost a budget-busting $8.99.
Are you kidding me?
2. Buying kale chips is EVEN MORE SMACK-WORTHY when you consider the WEIGHT (or lack thereof) you’re throwing down for.
The average package of kale chips contains under three ounces of product.
My $8.99 scored me 2.5 ounces of soggy, limp kale chips that started to taste like vomit after five chews.
A chunk of that weight came in the form of the nasty-tasting fruit bits coating the kale chips.
With one bundle of fresh kale, you can produce the equivalent of THREE boxes of kale chips. Sometimes more.
::opens iPhone calculator::
Doing the math, you'll see that people pay about ONE-THIRD of the price (and often less) for a fresh bundle of kale (and you can choose from a kale-eidoscope of colors and styles: green, red, black, lacinato...) to make at least THREE TIMES AS MANY kale chips as you'd get in a box.
That means you’re paying at least an 800% premium for the perceived convenience of having someone else make shitty kale chips for you.
It's a hefty premium to pay for something YOU COULD EASILY DO YOURSELF IN UNDER AN HOUR (and with hardly any hands-on time, at that).
But then there's also this:
3. Store-bought kale chips are not "chippy."
On the $8.99 package of store-bought kale chips (which I clearly have yet to get over), it says the chips are:
"...dehydrated below 115 degrees, not baked or fried, retaining healthy enzymes and nutrients which aid digestion."
Let me clear this issue up for the world right now:
There's nothing wrong with baking kale.
YOU SHOULD BAKE IT to make the best possible kale chips!
All this noise about "dehydration" being sooooooo cool is a pile of otter poop.
For starters, whatever "dehydration" process they use doesn't deliver the desired crunch that chip-eaters crave, rendering the whole idea of a healthier "chip" useless.
Then, to make the user experience even more nausea-inducing, they toss packets of silica gel, a moisture absorbent chemical, into every single package, destroying any chance of a "freshness" vibe being associated with these fale-ures.
What should also irk you is the subtle implication that baking will somehow screw up the enzyme action in your homemade kale chips.
Because that's just misleading. And we don't like when companies mislead consumers in these here parts.
A quick bit of research showed that there's a difference between the effects of wet-heat and dry-heat on enzymes, and when it comes to baking (a dry-heat cooking method), you can go up to "about 150 degrees" without denaturing (or deactivating) enzymes.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT.
Which brings us to:
4. It takes virtually NO TIME, THOUGHT OR ENERGY to make kale chips.
You heard it here first.
If you made a bet with me that the world’s stupidest human couldn’t produce an entirely edible -- and delicious -- batch of kale chips, guess what?
YOU'D LOSE THAT BET.
Kale chips are sofuckingeasy to make that it makes my eyeballs drip verdant, vitamin-K-filled tears when I see buttfaces buying them at the supermarket.
Seriously, people -- QUIT PERPLEXING ME AND FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE INSTRUCTIONS:
How to Make Kick-ass Kale Chips from Scratch
Crispy and crunchy without the help of a silica gel packet, these kale chips will be devoured in no time.
Things you'll need:
A pre-heated oven
One large mixing bowl
A lettuce spinner (the easiest way to dry your rinsed kale)
(We'll talk specifics soon)
How to kale it in the kitchen:
Pre-heat your oven to 150 degrees.
Rip off the leaves from the stems and place them in a large mixing bowl.
If you're pissed off about your bitchy boss or sloppy significant other, it's best to imagine him or her as the leaves you're mercilessly tearing apart.
It's what I enjoy calling "veggie voodoo."
Discard the stems, or use them to poke someone.
Clean and dry your kale, then put it in a large mixing bowl. It's party time.
Toss the leaves in some tasty oil, but don't go crazy (around 2 tsp per 1/2 bunch); you need A LOT LESS than it may seem.
Feel free to use whatever oil you've got -- I like to use extra virgin olive oil, and I make sure to really get in there and lube up those leaves.
Season the kale with salt and whatever else you like.
THE KALE'S IN YOUR COURT, BEOTCHES.
Then, toss that shizz around again so it's evenly coated in goodness.
Arrange the kale in a single layer on two baking sheets (since you'll have crazy amounts of leaves, you may need multiple rounds of baking), and cook it until crispy-crunchy (about 25-30 minutes).
(And you didn't break a sweat, a nail, or any glass...I hope.)
5. If it’s not obvious by now -- it’s REALLY HARD TO MESS UP making kale chips.
The thing about kale chips is that there's really no "wrong way" to make them, but some ways are better than others depending on what your priorities and amount of focus are.
In my kitchen, I like to cook kale chips "low and slow," which means baking them for about 25-35 minutes at 150 degrees.
Other "kale konnoisseurs" have suggested using much higher temperatures (I've seen 350 degrees, and, in some recipes, as high as 425 degrees -- whoa!) for a shorter cook time, since this method will also get you a crispy, crunchy result, and in less time (something we all can see as a benefit).
So why would anyone not do it this way?
(you know, other than because of that whole rap about enzymes)
Cooking kale chips at higher temperatures results in ugly aesthetics, with the bright green color being obliterated by the harshness of excessive heat.
Worse yet, higher temperatures also destroy vital nutrients (we're talking WAY beyond enzymes), and let's face it:
If you didn't care about those, you'd be eating fucking potato chips.
In the end, it's your kale.
6. People who buy kale chips HAVE NO SOUL (or, at least, no culinary creativity whatsoever).
What? You don't believe me? Or you think I'm being too judgmental?
Then consider this:
There are ENDLESS FLAVOR POSSIBILITIES you can use to doctor up homemade kale chips, and yet people who buy kale chips allow random companies dictate the tastes that tickle their tongues.
Sure, if you like the flavors the corporations develop (Indian-style ranch or vegan cheese, anyone? ::barf::), then go ahead:
Throw your hard-earned green away on greens you can outdo in your most zombified state.
If you're not into nacho cheese, you agree that piña kale-ada tastes like pineapple puke, and spicy miso makes you madder than Skyler White made most Breaking Bad viewers, don't fret:
You can calmly concoct your own kale chip seasoning blends faster than it'll take you to hit the store and throw down an 8-stack of G-Washies (our new slang for dolla billz) for a plastic container of something you might #hate.
Take a peek through your dry herb and spice cabinet and gather up your favorites:
- Cumin, coriander, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and oregano for "Southwestern" or "Mexican"
- Basil, tomato powder, garlic powder, and black pepper for "Tuscan"
- Szechuan peppercorns, ginger, soy sauce powder, garlic powder and onion powder for "Chinese"
Then, evenly sprinkle your oiled up kale with them before baking it.
You can also use ingredients like:
- Parmesan, cheddar, gruyere, or any other firm or hard cheese
- Citrus zest
- A splash of soy sauce, fish sauce or sweet chili sauce
- Fruit juice and nectar
- Honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup (which work best when mixed in with the oil before you coat the kale with spices)
Don’t limit your imagination in this area -- this is where the magic happens!
With one bunch of kale, olive oil, a splash of orange juice, salt, black pepper and a drizzle of honey, I created crispy, crunchy kale chips that dominated the store-bought ones in taste, texture and color. And, they got devoured in under an hour.
The best part?
It only cost me $1.99 for the kale, maybe another 25 cents worth of seasonings, and only 45 minutes of minimal work and waiting for it to bake to make something that's infinite times better than anything similar at the store.
The next time you catch people in the healthy snack section of your supermarket putting plastic containers of kale chips into their carts, you know what to do: