These Cheesy Kale Chips are absolutely loaded with nutrition from cashews, seeds and nutritional yeast, and there’s flavor to boot!
Years ago we were hosting friends for an informal good ‘ol BBQ and I told my husband that I’d be adding kale chips to the menu. He had a look of horror on his face as if to say, “People will want real corn or potato chips Mandy!” But I bravely trudged forward in my pursuit of serving people I care about good, clean, healthy food. I made those crazy kale chips and I served them to our friends, because, I knew just how good they were … and they were a hit.
Kale chips are SIMPLE, but there are actually plenty of ways to mess them up. And over the years I have personally messed them up many times.
Here’s what you need to know to make perfectly baked kale chips:
- Dry your kale completely before preparing it with a clean dish towel or paper towel.
- Use as little oil as possible, which is usually around 1 tablespoon per bunch (6-8 stems) of kale. Using too much oil will not only increase the cooking time, but it will also cause the kale chips to shrink in size. (They still taste good though.)
- Take the time to massage the oil into the leaves thoroughly. This will ensure that the flavorful topping sticks to the entire leaf.
- Place the kale pieces on a baking sheet with plenty of room in between them for nice crispy chips, which means about 2 baking sheets per bunch of kale. I love cooking and many times I have to repeat the mantra, “Cook like you don’t have to clean-up.” But sometimes I lose sight of this mantra. Case-in-point – I crowd a whole bunch of kale onto 1 backing sheet because using 2 sheets seemed like an incredible clean-up at the time. Mistake.
- Let them go untouched for a full 25 minutes! Moving them around with a spatula (or another tool) will just scrunch them up and make them tinier.
- Bake the chips on low heat – 300 or lower (I prefer 275). I use heat very carefully when I’m preparing food and always prefer low heat and longer cooking times for nutrient retention. Kale chips are no exception. Anything over 300 and they easily become charred, which may do a thing or two for the flavor of your beef, but not for your kale chips. They will taste burnt. Not what you want.
- Watch them carefully at the end of the cooking time to prevent burning – kale chips taste best when they’re still bright green and crisp.
I really love packing a dish with a ton of nutrition, which is why I added so many seeds into this recipe. Here’s more on that …
- Kale – Joey over at Thrive Cuisine put together a very comprehensive look at the health benefits of kale. Check it out here!
- Nutritional Yeast – Nutritional yeast is a yellow-colored flaky inactive yeast made from sugarcane and beet molasses, it is not brewer’s yeast. It is commonly used as the flavor base for many dairy-free cheese substitutes. It is a wonderful source of B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, and zinc.
- Pumpkin Seeds – Pumpkin seeds are an excellent sources of zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, and iron. Add them to your smoothie bowl, salad, wraps, curries, etc. The Go Raw brand offers a sprouted variety, which makes the nutrients more bioavailable (able to be absorbed). You can also easily buy them bulk from many grocery stores.
- Sunflower Seeds – Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E. Like the pumpkin seeds, I buy a sprouted product from Go Raw.
- Preheat the oven to 275.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a coffee grinder, blend the nuts, seeds and spices. *
- Remove the kale leaves from their stems and roughly tear them apart into large pieces.
- Use a paper towel or clean dish towel to completely dry the kale.
- Place half of the kale pieces in a large bowl and massage ½ tablespoon of olive oil into the leaves. Make sure to be thorough. Sprinkle half of the nut and seed mixture into the bowl and gently work the mixture into the leaves with your hands until the kale is coated evenly with the toppings. Place this batch on one of the baking sheets keeping some space between the kale pieces as best as possible.
- Repeat previous steps (oil and toppings) with the second half of kale pieces.
- Place both baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for an additional 10 minutes. The kale will shrink slightly and that's OK. If the chips are still soft after the 25 minutes of baking, keep them in the oven for a bit longer (5-10 minutes) or until just crunchy but still green. IMPORTANT - Check on them every 2 minutes or so during these last minutes so they don't over-bake and turn brown. I often find that the kale on the outer rim of the baking sheet cook faster. I REMOVE the crisp ones after 25 minutes and cook the damp ones a bit longer.
- Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the chips to cool for 5 minutes. The kale chips are crunchiest within the first 2 days of making, but start to soften after that.
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