Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Eating Omily: Kale Yes.

So, I have a slight obsession with kale chips.  Not just any kale chips: the 'cheesy' or 'nacho' flavored-kind.  In all the iterations I've seen, these crispy delights don't actually have any cheese, because cheese is just too heavy to put on top of something as feather light as a crisped piece of kale and not have it collapse.  Now, if you're like me, the idea of something meant to taste like cheese not containing any cheese is enough to make you cross the street to avoid it.  Trust me, the sequence of characters, 'chocolatey' (as in, 'we cannot legally call this chocolate because there is not enough cocoa mass in this product by weight') is enough to make me break out in hives.
BUT, have no fear: A combination of soaked, pureed nuts, veggies, and spices provides a naturally orange, zesty, ADDICTIVE flavor to these guys: no MSG, no 'natural' or artificial flavors or colors, no creepy stuff.  When I bought a bag at TJ's and inhaled it in twenty-four hours, I realized I was going to have to conquer this recipe for myself, or take on a second job to support my habit.

Looking at those options, I was quick to google 'raw vegan kale chips', and almost as quickly, I found this recipe, which seemed like a good place to start.

I was able to find the nutritional yeast in the bulk bins at Whole Foods, and it's common in Health Food stores as well. It's a popular vegan/raw ingredient, because since yeasts and bacteria are what gives cheese its flavor, this stuff has a distinctly cheese note itself.

I have not yet faced the fact that I'll have to find a Winter time substitute for the red bell pepper.  I'm thinking perhaps a combo of carrots and roasted frozen red bell peppers will do the trick.

The recipe is straight forward enough. I used local maple syrup instead of agave, and I didn't have onion powder, or turmeric powder, but I did have Trader Joe's taco spices, so I used nearly a teaspoon of that instead, and the resulting flavor is truly fantastic, with just the sublest punch of heat that makes them truly addictive.  They really do taste like what dorritos are trying to taste like: spicy, almost sweet, and perfectly light and crispy...and of course, with an ingredient list like this one, who can say no?

The catch is, A.) I had way more 'nacho' topping than I needed for one bunch of kale, and B.) I had to fill the oven with baking sheets twice in order to have enough surface area to bake/dry one bunch of kale.  Of course, through the baking/dehydrating process, these guys shrink up a lot, so a big bunch of kale becomes just a couple servings.

AND, in my 170 degree oven, these puppies take two days or so to dry out properly.  If you pull them early, they'll mold on you, and that's just sad.

I solved the first problem by pouring the extra topping into a jar, and popping it into the fridge until I had time to buy and prep more kale.  The second two problems just require a lot of patience.  You can play with turning up the oven, of course, but these taste best to me when there is no roasty-toasty flavor to the kale at all: just subtle, earthy green-ness.

Think you have the drive to make yourself some incredibly delicious snackage?  If you have drying racks, use them on top of your baking sheets to speed up the process a bit.  Let me know any tips or tricks you pick up from your attempt!
Here's the finished product!  I, uh, had eaten most of them before I managed to take a picture...they really are that good.
Nom nom nom!!!

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