The kale chips my kids won’t eat

June 17, 2011 · 16 comments

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In the vision, we grew a garden. Our perfectly-amended soil, combined with the perfect amount of gentle Midwestern rain, gave roots the nutrients they needed to grow by ample sunlight into a (somewhat humble) and generously-fruited garden. My acceptably dirt-covered children helped me weed, and at harvest time, like when picking strawberries, they tentatively asked if they could take a bite. And in that crunch, their hearts were given over to a burgeoning love of fresh vegetables.

Right. Does anyone have some kids I can borrow to make this dream come to fruition? The garden is good, the kids are dirty. But then everything gets muddled and confused as I’m startled to reality by the sound of my 5-year old asking if he can just go inside on a perfect 80º day and play the DS.

I couldn’t wait for the kale to come up, because in a discussion with some friends about their favorite go-to summer recipes, one mom mentioned kale chips — that her kids simply could not get enough of them. So in my mind, her kids are about the same age as my kids, they aren’t vegetarian or vegan, they aren’t superhuman. If her kids like kale chips, then this could be my ticket to getting at least one serving of leafy green veggies into my (still, ironically, dirt-covered) children before they can legally drink a beer.

So one morning I acted out the sort of photographic scene you would find in any food or gardening magazine: I harvested our lovely kale, washed it 3 times, tore it into little pieces, and made a baking sheet full of kale chips. I presented them to my children, who upon just seeing them noted that they still looked like something leafy, something green, something from the garden, something they would most definitely not like.

But they are SALTY! And CRUNCHY! It’s just like eating a potato chip!

They each had to try one, because that’s how we roll. And at the end of it, I had three kids looking like I’d just placed drops of cyanide on each of their tongues. Seriously, it was like I had poisoned them. They begged me for water, with tears pooling in their eyes. It was like I had morphed into a 5’7″ kale chip, standing before them ready to smother with gargantuan leafy appendages.

How ridiculous. If I morphed into a giant vegetable, I would totally be a root vegetable.

Despite what my children would have you believe, these are a wonderful way to eat kale. I can eat a whole tray of them for dinner — but they are also great crumbled over grain salads, as I discovered when faced with the leftovers of my garden-magazine-worthy vision gone sour.


Kale Chips (recipe courtesy Emily Vanest, who has better veggie-loving genes to pass on to her children than I)

  • fresh kale leaves, thick stems removed and torn into rough 3″ pieces*
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

Preheat oven to 350º. Toss kale leaves with olive oil and salt to taste. Bake for 10 minutes, until crispy but not too brown. Let cool, and if desired eat straight from the pan, bypassing your children.

* the leaves wilt a good deal when cooked — the photo above (kale in the pan) is before cooking — and I really did eat all of this batch.

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