We’re all still thinking about those healthy eating resolutions come February, even if we’ve slacked a bit in the actually doing it part, and greens – like collards, turnips, spinach, and kale – are some of the best foods you can eat for health. They’re full of vitamins, low calorie, good for digestion, and you can basically eat as much of them as you want. But chances are your preschooler is as picky as most and the very color green in food tends to send them running. Try cooking up a pot of stinky greens and offering it to your little child, I dare you. (Even some grownups who won’t touch the stuff.) And while kale’s popularity as a super food is waning, there’s one recipe to keep in heavy rotation because, miraculously, kids seem to like it! It’s all about branding, really, because if you call something a “chip,” it’s got to taste good and probably isn’t good for you, right? Therein lays the glory of the kale chip.
Making these crispy greens with a bag of pre-cut/shredded kale can be swear inducing, but it still gets results. However, if you can find them, whole bunches of kale that you can tear to size yourself will make this whole process MUCH easier.
To begin, preheat your oven to 350 and get out a couple of large, rimmed cookie sheets. Wash and dry your kale leaves, removing any thick stems and tearing larger leaves into more chip-like shapes. Place in a bowl and toss with a drizzle of olive oil, sea or kosher salt, and some red pepper flakes or Parmesan if you’re feeling sassy. Bake in a single layer for 10 minutes, then flip each piece and bake another 5-10 until pieces are crisp and browned but not burned. Enjoy immediately. You can store any leftovers in an air-tight container, and they’re still good, just not as crunchy as right out of the oven.
Kids will like sprinkling the seasonings on the kale and spreading the “chips” out on the cookie sheet before baking. Though don’t count on them continuing to gobble these up when not fresh and crisp, because, you know, picky. If you’re lucky you’ll spread the good news to your kids and your friends kids, making you a sort of a Nutrition Evangelist!
Try them out and see if you can’t sneak some nutrition into your little chicken-nugget-eaters. (And if you’re feeling super lazy, you can even buy pre-made kale chips!)
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Emily Brown is a preschool teacher, freelance writer, and mom to two energetic, funny little girls with a flair for drama and a shared love of cheese and pickles. She’s also written a book on the history and food of restaurants in Birmingham, AL called Birmingham Food: A Magic City Menu.