Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On The Subject of Kale

Yes, that is what our "grass" looks like right now (sorry I've fallen victim to the demon Instagram; I'm trying hard not to over-use the filters and such -- but they're awful fun!). Pretty sad, I know (and no, it has nothing to do with kale, but I just had to mention it because it makes my plant loving heart so sad to see it looking like this!). And a dramatic difference from last year when it looked like this at the end of summer (and we thought the little drought we went through last year was tough):

So lush and green! And my herbs (behind my in-laws cat that yes, is about to attack my sweet little puppy) looked lush and wonderful, too, whereas this year they're barely hanging on and constantly wilted and pathetic. It all makes me sad. We desperately need rain. And lots of it. There are cracks in the ground outside big enough to lose our dog in, just about. I've nearly twisted my ankle in them a couple times, too. Gotta be careful out there! 

Anyway, that's not really the point of this post. This post is about kale! I love kale. It's so pretty and dark green and leafy. It's packed full of nutrients, too. Did you know that one serving of kale is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, and Phosphorus, and is also a good source of  vitamin A, C, K, B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper, and Manganese, according to If you can get your hands on organic kale, then all the better, as it graces the EWG's list of produce most heavily sprayed with pesticides, and is potentially even more dangerous than the items on the main list -- the leafy greens, kale, collards, and also green beans have gotten special mention this year as they "did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.". So if you're going to avoid anything conventionally grown, it looks like green beans and leafy greens are it! But one thing I love so much about the EWG's list is that they make the distinction that eating even conventionally grown produce is better for your health than avoiding it entirely just because you can't afford to go all organic. EAT YOU FRUITS AND VEGGIES! If you can't afford anything organic, eat them anyway! The risks of not doing so outweigh the risk of consuming things sprayed with pesticides. Their list is helpful though; they offer the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15" -- the former simply being the produce you would do best to buy organic if you can and the latter being the produce you can most safely consume non-organic. But back to kale! It makes me really, really happy to see it growing in my garden, even if I am having to water a lot more often than I'd like just to keep it alive. I don't buy organic seed, but it is organically grown. I use DE and other natural methods (like squishing!) when I have a pest problem, and fertilize with things like decomposed manure, coffee grounds, and epsom salts. I love gardening 100% safely, naturally, the way God intended! Companion planting is another great way to reduce pest problems, though I've only lightly dabbled in that yet, as there is much to learn and I'm still in the early stages of learning.

My favorite thing to do with kale is make it into kale chips! They are so good they're practically like junk food, except that it's not! I love foods like that. It is addictive and I easily sit down and eat an entire batch by myself if I'm not careful to set some aside for David. Here is some I made this morning (yes, kale in the morning! Kale in the noontime! Kale at suppertime! Kale, kale, kale, all the time!).

There are all kinds of ways to make kale chips; if you look online you'll find many methods from high heat for a short time, to low heat for a long time, and all kinds of seasons and oils and the list goes on. I've experimented a lot with making kale chips though, and have pinned down my favorite method. Here it is for you, so you can avoid some of the trial and error I experienced trying to perfect the kale chip!

Kale Chips

One bunch of kale
pepper (optional)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Cut or tear the kale off the stems into bite small sized pieces (but keep in mind they will shrink considerably while baking, so don't make them too small, unless you want kale crumbs). Small stems can be left (such as tips of leaves and very small leaves), but if they're very big they'll be very hard and difficult to chew. Toss kale in just enough olive oil to evenly coat both sides of the leaves. Work it with your hands for a minute or two until it all looks glossy -- add more olive oil if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and work the leaves again to make sure they're evenly coated. Spread out onto a cookie sheet or in the bottom of a baking dish, being careful that you don't layer them thickly, or you'll have some leaves stay soggy! Bake at 250° until crisp to the touch. Remove from oven and allow them to cool briefly before you eat them; they'll crisp up even more as they cool! Be careful too, not to let them overcook; if they start to turn brown they're getting overdone and will taste bitter. I bake mine for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the bunch) in my convection oven, so if you have a traditional oven adjust your time accordingly!

And now you know how to make one of the yummiest and healthiest snacks EVAR! Go you!


  1. Hi Megan! I'm enjoying your amusing and light-hearted posts. Kale chips have been on my mind lately, but I'm a bit scared to make them! Do they become yucky if they are put in a plastic bag? Do you have to eat them all within the same day?

  2. Thanks! Don't be scared to make them! They're delicious and REALLY quite easy to make. They don't get yucky in a plastic bag, nor do you have to eat them all in one day. They last well. I actually have some in the fridge right now that I didn't even bother to put in a plastic bag, and they're still fine. They've been lying on a plate in there for 2-3 days now. :)