On Saturday, I fell in love with a bag of barbeque chips. It did not end well.
BC and I met at a picnic on Govenor’s Island so I blame our relationship on the phenomenon of “vacation eating.” Sure, my trip out took less time than the forthcoming recipes in this article, but with the wind in my hair and the sun on my face, I was in paradise. And with that my relationship blossomed.
I’m not really sure how the whole thing happened, but haven’t we all said that before? Thinking back on it though -- the picnic blanket, my bare feet on grass, slow-streaming light pointing down through the trees -- it was inevitable that I’d succumb to one of summer’s simple pleasures. I dove into romance a bag of barbeque chips with gusto.
Hearts were broken and waistbands were stretched. It is time to move on.
Vegetable chips can provide a healthier option to their bagged and intensely processed alter egos. And while I am partial to the tangy crunch of kale and the sweetness of beets, I am not going to make the case that they taste exactly like your store-bought bag of chips. But they’re still good! Very good, actually. Baked vegetable chips still offer the health benefits of your chosen produce while masking themselves in salty, crispy form.
Better still? They are so easy to make that you’re not even really cooking. Simply prep your vegetables, arrange on a baking sheet and place in the oven. In a few minutes, you have a crispy, salty, viciously addictive snack that is completely picnic-ready.
Below are recipes for kale, carrot and beet chips. When combined in one bowl, you have a pretty solid serving of anti-oxidants and vitamins. Kale, for instance, contains anti-inflammatory properties and is a strong source of Vitamins A, C and K. Additionally, kale is rich in fiber, which can promote digestion and tame appetites. Carrots, widely praised for high levels of beta carotene and vitamin A, also contain vitamin K and potassium. Carrots have also been shown to promote eye sight and prevent dry skin. Finally, beets are another fiber-dense, nutrient-heavy (vitamin C, magnesium, iron and potassium respectively) vegetable. Beets have been shown to be excellent support to heart health as well as a good provider of energy.
Have you abandoned your bad romance with a summer staple food for a healthy and satisfying alternative? I want to know! Tell me your favorite picnic and barbeque dishes in the comments section.
Not-At-All-Like-Potato-But-Still-Very-Good Vegetable Chips
When making vegetable chips, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind. Try to cut your vegetables uniformly so that they will cook evenly. The thinner the cuts, the easier it will be for your vegetables to dry out and crisp up. If they are too oily before baking, simply wipe off the excess with a paper towel. Let vegetable chips cool when they come out of the oven and then store in an air-tight container, so as to prevent them from becoming soggy or stale. Lastly, the forthcoming recipes are very simply seasoned. Experiment with your spices (I like to sprinkle garlic on kale, cumin on carrots and cinnamon on beets).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut out the tough inner rib from each piece of kale so you are left you only the leaves. In a large mixing bowl, wash kale and dry in a salad spinner. Wipe out original bowl and add kale, extra virgin olive oil and salt. Massage the kale with your hands so that the leaves are evenly covered with oil and salt. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes (cooking time will vary based on the heat of your oven).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel the rough skin off the beets and then slice them as thinly as possible on a mandolin or with a vegetable peeler. In a large mixing bowl, cover beets with extra virgin olive oil and salt (You can also use a pastry brush on each individual beets but I find that incredibly tedious. Simply make sure that the oil and salt has been evenly distributed among the beets.) Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check beets often as they burn easily.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel carrots and slice on a mandolin or with a vegetable peeler. In a large mixing bowl, cover carrots with oil and salt, using your hands to make sure that all ingredients are evenly distributed. Arrange carrots on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the over for 15 to 20 minutes (cooking times will vary based on the heat of your oven).