Can a picky eater overcome a lifelong aversion to "branching out"?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kale Chips

While I am a generally skeptical eater, I tend to be especially skeptical of any sort of health food that promises to "replace" your cravings for other delicious yet unhealthy food.  The last time I fell for that was when my then-vegetarian husband convinced me to try vegetarian bacon because "It is basically just like real bacon!"  He's a liar.  But I married him anyways.  Despite my naturally skeptical leanings, I decided to give Kale Chips a try.  I originally saw the recipe HERE.  It seemed like it could work.  And part of expanding my food tolerances is to get healthier, so why not give it a try!

This was an interesting experience both in terms of expanding my reluctant palette and in terms of wrestling with my inner OCD cook.  The first battle came when I saw that my husband bought curly leaf kale despite the fact that the recipes I looked at had used flat leaf kale.  This was the jumping off point for an internal argument that quickly devolved into a childish back and forth of "It doesn't matter!"  "But what if it does?"  "It doesn't!!"  "But what if it does?"  "IT DOESN'T"  Ultimately the voice of reason won by pointing out that even if it does matter, we are not willing to get out of our pajamas and go out to the store and buy another head of kale.  Thus, the curly leafed kale.

The next battle came when the recipes stated to remove or cut out the center rib of the kale.  When I am cooking, and the recipe tells me to do something that I am unfamiliar with and does not clearly explain what they mean, I tend to freeze in panic.  Even if I know I can probably guess what they mean, I still freak out because I could be wrong and ruin the entire thing!  Luckily, today I was distracted enough and tired enough that I was able to avoid a mini-meltdown and just strip the kale leaves off of the center rib.  It seemed logical that if you are making kale chips and the center rib needs to be removed, if you just rip chip sized chunks of kale off of the center rib, you are going to end up at the place you want to be.

I then washed the kale and began to look around for the salad spinner to dry them.  This led to an argument with my husband about whether we actually even own a salad spinner.  We never found it, but I still say we own one.  My husband also now says we own one because he is awesome at husband-ing and recognizes when he should just agree and move on.  I wonder where that thing is....Anyways!  Salad spinner-less I went ahead and towel dried the kale as much as I could and dumped it in a bowl, added some olive oil and tossed until everything was coated.  I then added 1 tsp of smoked paprika.  As I was smelling the scent rising from the bowl, it reminded me of a Sweet and Smoky Rotisserie spice I had in the spice drawer.  I had never used it before because it smelled like barbecue Lays.  Which are good chips, but are not what I want my meat to taste like.  But here was its opportunity to shine!  I shook out about a tsp and a half of it onto the kale.  I added a dash of salt.  I didn't add too much because the rotisserie seasoning already had salt in it and I didn't want to over salt the "chips".

I then laid them out on the baking pans.  Where the laid-back cook had won earlier, both with the curly leaf kale and the seasonings, OCD cook jumped to the front now and I found myself taking the kale out piece by individual piece and laying it out on the pans to ensure there was no overlap.  Time consuming, but not too bad, so I didn't fight this one.

I put the kale in a 350 degree oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.  At 10 minutes, one of the trays was done.  I took it out and let the other stay in for another two minutes.  I tasted one and felt like it needed more spice.  The kale taste was a bit over powering.  So I put the chips in a bowl and added some more seasonings and some salt and tossed them again.  This was then end result:

They look cool!  But the taste was the real test.  Initial thought?  I hated them.  Under normal circumstances, that would be it for me. I would walk away and never eat kale again.  But I reminded myself, the whole point is to push my boundaries, so give them a bit of a chance.  So I left the bowl out on the kitchen counter and munched on them throughout the day.  The end result?  I don't hate them!  They are very definitely not a substitute for potato chips, but they are interesting.  They could be a substitute in the sense that they are something that is bite-sized, slightly salty and that you can mindlessly munch on, like potato chips.  But if you are truly craving some chips, these are not the chips you want to reach for.  They taste exactly like what they are; Smoky, slightly salty roasted kale.  I am not a big fan of how long the kale-y aftertaste sticks with you, but after getting used to it, I really appreciated the flavor.  You definitely want to make sure they are fully cooked.  I got a few that were not fully crisped up and after a few moments of chewing you end up with this horrible, tough wad of vegetation in your mouth.  Unpleasant, even for someone who doesn't have extreme texture issues with food!

Will I make them again?  Probably not. I didn't like them enough to put in the effort to keep them in the house.  But if someone else made them, I wouldn't turn them down!  And for this picky eater, that is a huge step!


  1. I am very proud of you! You persevered even after an initial bad response. Way to go, girl. When I grow up I wanna be just like you, courageous and willing to stretch beyond the familiar.

  2. Enjoyed this 'beginning' blog. Parts made me chuckle, and I think I added a new description of me as a cooker....OCD.....LOL I was especially happy to read about the Kale chips, since I had seen this, on Food TV maybe, and thought I'd try it. But.....didn't.....I am kinda glad.

    Good luck, hang in there. This is a very promising BLOG :)