Hello, dear readers! It's springtime in Danville, which means the vendors at the are selling fresh, green, local produce. There is nothing like the novelty of a bright new green to get my creative juices flowing in my quest to provide healthy, fun and nutritious meals for my family.
Feeding two small children is no easy task; parents seem initially perplexed by kids' grazing habits but soon adapt to the life of constant snacking. (At least, that's what I've done.) I know there are all kinds of articles extolling the benefits of sitting down to three square meals a day, the most recent referencing the always-posh French culture. My children--bless them and their nonstop activity--prefer three meals plus snacks. It seems like we are eating all day long.
In addition to snacking, my kids also enjoy using their imaginations. A favorite show in our household right now is Dino Dan on Nick Jr. We watch and learn about new dinosaurs then spend the rest of the day pretending to "hatch dino eggs" (big rocks outside), roar like the T. Rex, sneak around like a compsognathus, and eat dino snacks.
Dinosaur kale (also called Lacinato kale) is a flat leaf variety with gorgeous, blue-green leaves. I've found the stems to be less fibrous than curly kale and when making one of our favorite snacks, kale chips, the flat leaves make for a crispier and more satisfying texture.
The two kids and I can easily munch through two whole bunches of kale in one sitting. Add a frozen fruit and yogurt smoothie to make it a well-balanced lunch.
Dino (aka Kale) Chips
2 bunches dinosaur or lacinato kale (curly also works)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
To make the kale chips:
Preheat oven to 375F.
Cut off the very ends of the kale stalks, then slice through the leaves and stems cross-wise to create strips. Slice into bite-sized chips.
Toss half of the kale with a small amount of olive oil to lightly coat. You can do this in a separate bowl, or right on a baking sheet.
Arrange leaves on a nonstick baking sheet in a single layer. Do not overcrowd. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes.
Check at 10 minutes; flip over with tongs, and let cook until crispy but still green, 3-5 minutes more. You'll need to keep a close eye on the kale chips to pull them out when they are crispy but before they start to yellow.
Transfer chips to a plate. Repeat with remaining kale, tossing with olive oil and baking.
Add sea salt and Parmesan cheese to taste. Enjoy!
*Note: It works best to salt your kale after baking. Adding salt before baking can make the chips chewier and less crunchy. Also, you have the benefit of tasting your chips to limit the amount of salt used.