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Kale has been making headlines lately for its tremendous health benefits, and with good reason. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It’s packed with nutrients such as vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, and iron, plus powerful antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids (which help protect us against many of the most common cancers). Kale even contains omega-3 fatty acids—a 1-cup serving delivers 10 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance. Not only are these “good fats” brain- and heart-healthy, but they also help fight arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune disorders.
Given all of these health benefits, learning how to make a batch of nutrient-dense kale chips is the perfect way to get your greens on. What could be more satisfying than digging in to a big bowl of crunchy chips that you can enjoy guilt free, knowing each bite delivers a powerful dose of nutrients?
Kale chips can either be made with oil or nuts, but the latest scientific research points to nuts as the superior choice for health. So the recipe you’ll find below is cashew-based. While oils are a whopping 120 calories per tablespoon with a scant amount of nutrients, nuts contain way more nutrients per calorie and are actually associated with weight loss, lower cholesterol and enhanced cardiovascular health. Hence, these cashew-based kale chips are one of the most nutrient-rich snacks you could possibly eat.
No doubt, this is a recipe that both your taste buds and your body will relish. It’s a regular in my house, and I’m sure it will be a fast favorite of yours too.
Cheesy Cashew Kale Chips
Completely drying washed kale pieces is an important prerequisite for yielding kale chips with maximum crunch factor. I’ve even washed my kale the day before and left the pieces to dry overnight to ensure they are perfectly dry.
1 medium bunch curly kale (2 cups torn leaves)
1 cup cashews (soaked overnight for at least 6 hours)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon (2 Tbs.)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
Dash of cayenne pepper, dill, or onion powder, optional
1. Begin with unwashed kale. Trim the toughest part of the kale stems, and cut or tear leaves into bite-size pieces. Fill a large bowl with water and place kale pieces in water. Swish the kale around so that any debris floats to the top. Drain, and dry completely in a salad spinner or with towels. Once dry, place kale pieces in a large bowl with enough room for mixing the kale with the cheese sauce.
2. To make cheese sauce: combine soaked cashews; bell pepper; lemon juice; nutritional yeast; garlic powder; sea salt; and cayenne pepper, dill, or onion powder, if using, in a high-powered blender or food processor (a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix is the best for this), and blend until smooth.
3. Combine cheese sauce and kale pieces, and use your hands to massage kale with sauce. (It’s fine if coating is uneven or if there are big globs of cashew cheese. In my opinion, the cheesy parts are the best part of the final product!)
4. Preheat oven to 200°F. Spread kale pieces on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 45 minutes or until crunchy.
Talia Fuhrman has a B.A. in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University and is a freelance body image and nutrition writer and chef. She’s on a mission to help people understand that eating healthfully and feeling fantastic can be fun, delicious, and easy. She has written for numerous websites and magazines including Psychology Today, Positive Impact Magazine, VegNews, CrazySexyLife.com, GirlieGirlArmy.com, and DiseaseProof.com.