Easy Kale Chips

 

vino

Kale chips at home infront of the tellybox. Oversized savblanc model’s own.

Following recent dietary requirements and a constant glut of the superfood-that-we-aren’t-allowed-to-call-a-superfood-anymore Kale recipes, I have had several bashes at making  my own kale chips at home. They are pretty simple to do, though you have to pay attention, and make a fine addition to any nibbles plate or weekend sports observation table. If, like me, you are particularly conscious of carbs or added ingredients or processed saturated fats, then they can even come forth as a replacement for the much lamented bag of salsa and mesquite Kettle Chips and side of wasabi pea bites. However, we should establish some clear false news boundaries before we go any further into this discussion.

Kale Chips Are Just Like Other Chips: I’m not going to lie to you, unless you are a big kale fan, kale chips are not going to seamlessly glide in to replace your salted potato based junk snack of choice. You will not eat one and suddenly forget how much you like pretzels and nachos and pitta chips. However if you get your seasonings and crunch levels right, they are a passable and moreish snack that will get you extra food trend points or, at the very least, see you through an evening netflix binge.

Kale Chips Are So Good For You They Are Basically Medicine: Yeah, about that……….Yes, kale is a leafy green so has a nice fibre and iron content, is 4% protein by weight and will offer you up  your entire daily Vitamin C requirements from just a 50g serving*. Yay for kale! Yay for eating plants! But when you chip them the cooking process will reduce these nutritional values a bit and you are about to cover them in fat and salt. Yes, olive oil is a friendly poly-whats plant based fat that is arguably better for you than eating say lard or cyanide but it is a fat, and it packs calories accordingly. If you are coeliac and can’t trust mass produced seasoning mixes, then these kale chips might work for you. If you are on a reduced carb intake, these might work for you. If you are a culinary minded vegan who isn’t afraid to stand up to the clean eating backlash then these will most definitely work for you. They will not make you skinny if you eat them for every meal alongside a cheese sandwich with extra mayo and a bourbon chaser (biscuit or bottled).

In which case, why choose them?  I am a kale fan in all of its guises and I genuinely really like them, however I also like the fact that an entire bag of kale, chipped as per the below method will set me back 10 weight watchers points at the absolute most. Over the same amount of time/volume/80 minutes of rugby I would go through at least 12 points worth of kettle chips plus whatever I might care to dip them in. Say 16 total points at a very conservative guess. That’s the other thing, you can’t dip these kale chips they would just fall to bits, so no sour cream based calorie downfalls await you there.

Unless you have some kind of incident with your knife rack, it won’t hurt you to try them! And you may very well burn them to cinders on your first attempt because as I failed to listen to my teachers you will fail to hear me when I tell you that you really have to check them every couple of minutes. But live and learn, try some different flavour mixes and spend your extra calories on something a little more indulgent than a family sized bag of cheese and onion.

*thankyou Nutrition Data

Boomboom Kale Chips

kale

your chopped kale, greased up and ready to go

Kit- Large mixing bowl, baking sheets, baking/silicon paper.

200g green kale
Extra virgin olive oil

For the spice mix:
Boomboom Style
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp maldon smoked sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Pinch garam massala

OR
1tsp garlic powder
1tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp maldon sea salt

OR
Very fine zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp maldon sea salt

When choosing your kale look for larger leaves as smaller bits will crisp off and burn very quickly in the oven. Wash it thoroughly then dry as completely as you can either with a salad spinner or by sandwiching it between two clean tea towels and gently pressing.
Pre heat the oven to 160 and cover a baking sheet with greaseproof paper or an oven proof silicon sheet.
You now need to snip the stems out of the kale with either some good kitchen scissors or a very sharp knife because they do not crisp up well- infact they will leave your chips with grim, bitter and overly chewy lumpy bits. No. If you can’t stand the waste keep the stem stumps to bulk up a stew or put them out for the birds. Try to keep the pieces around the same size.

Prep your spice mix as per the above options (or try your own!) but make sure they are well mixed either by using a pestle and mortar or very gently crushing them together with the back of a spoon.

Put your kale into a large mixing bowl and add at first one tablespoon of olive oil and mix gently with your hands to coat all of the leaves evenly- add more as you need to but you shouldn’t have to go over another whole tablespoon. Ideally you will see a uniform green-shiny finish on all leaves and this is the point to stop. Strictly speaking you could use lesser virgin or old strumpet style olive oil but I find the strong taste of extra virgin gives a richer result and compliments the Boomboom spice mix as above. Sprinkle the spices over the kale then again mix in gently by tossing the leaves with your fingers.

Turn the kale out onto the baking sheet and spread out into a single layer- you are better to do two batches than try to pile it up! Put in the middle of your pre heated oven and set a timer for 4 minutes. Yes, 4 minutes. Do not guesstimate it. Do not pop off to check the headlines. Set. The. Timer.
After 4 minutes, take the tray out and mix the kale about a bit. Back in for another 4 minutes, after which you may see the edges of some bits start to darken. If they are black, turn the oven down. Mix them around again and back in the over for 2 minutes at a time, mixing after each stage. When they are done they will be crisp and noticibly darker green, just starting to brown at the very edges.

Leave the tray out on a heat proof surface to cool completely then serve with a glass of wine and a boxset binge. Or scatter them last minute over a salad or pilaf. Stick some in a tupperware box and take them to work if you can’t resist the mid afternoon call to the vending machine (they will keep for a few days in an air tight container).

Variations- you could use red kale easily in this, I find it has a slightly milder flavour but be extra careful with the checking as it is so dark already it is had to see the difference between Done and Decimated. Try your own spice and flavour combinations but try to keep everything as dry as possible- citrus zest rather than jucie, garlic powder rather than fresh crushed, dried chillis rather than fresh etc.

 

 

 

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The Skinny Thing- Spicy Pilaf

bulgar wheat: high fibre nutty goodness wholefood of the gods!!!!

I came up with this frankly brilliant dinner whilst trying to research a weight watchers friendly dish that I could feed to guests on a Friday night without violating the Geneva convention. One serving will set you back maybe 7 smart points or if you are on no count method no more than 3 of your weeklies (for the apricots) assuming you use olive oil from your daily freebie 2 tspns. Calorie counters shouldn’t go over 350 at a push I think it is free on slimming world. It is high fibre at around 18% by dry weight plus 12% protein, easy to prep and very easy to make vegan friendly if you stick to veg stock, however I must now add that I like it served alongside a chunk of roast chicken.
Enjoy.

Boomboom Spicy Pilaf

easy spicy pilaf, shown here with some added turkey breast

Serves 4
150g bulgar wheat
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 heaped tsp each of garammasala, curry powder, mustard seeds, cinnamon
½ tsp dried chilli flakes or hot paprika (optional)
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 TBspn Olive oil or coconut oil
2 red onions
4 cloves garlic
2 large carrots
4 celery sticks
10-15 dried apricots
200g fresh spinach
Fresh coriander to serve

 

Put the dry spices into a large sautee pan and heat gently until the aromas start to release or the mustard seeds show signs of popping! Make up your stock at this point. Turn the heat off the pan for a minute to avoid spitting then add the oil, finely chopped onions, carrots and minced garlic. Cook through for five minutes before adding the chopped celery (chuck the leaves in too if they are there). Stir in the dry buglar wheat thoroughly, add the stock, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Slice the apricots in half and add these now to the pan and cook uncovered for a few more minutes until the bulgar is soft and most of the liquid absorbed. Stir in the shredded spinach right at the end and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately topped with roughly chopped coriander.

 

Variations- you could add raisins or dried coconut if the mood takes you, add a dollop of natural yoghurt if you over spice it. Add some chopped chicken or turkey breast after the onions and carrots if you wish just ensure it is all cooked through before serving. Leftovers work well cold in a lunchbox too!

Grow Your Own- Oh But It’s Cold Outside!

snow

A seasonal dusting of the Boomboom Gardens this morning

It might seem an odd time of year to add to the gardening chapters, there was a scandalous dusting of snow over my poor car this morning for heavens sake who wants to be outside if they don’t have to!?!? Actually, I do, and I have spent some good hours outside recently getting dirty and upsetting the neighbours’ dogs with my incessant quiet walking around my own garden. Fine there’s not much harvesting to be had but there are many little jobs to done, bulbs to be planted and masterplans to hatch and hone in time for the end of the frosts and my inevitable return to cultivational glory!

Maybe.

Weeding and Cut Backs:
Truth is there are a lot of boring jobs to do now that I am hoping will help me out later in the year. Godless weeds that have been spreading since the autumn like the bastard oxalis and it’s vile side kick geraniums have been halted in the cold weather and are much easier to pull up, roots and all, while the soil is wet at the moment. I was sadly thrilled to yield the best part of a whole garden sack full of these murderous and unruly pests. It’s also proven much easier to hack back the monster buddleja at the moment vs when it is on full growth activity. Experts might tell you to do this at another time but those experts haven’t tried to preen that thing when the bees are awake, nor are they going to have to placate my neighbours if it rips their fence over. Other casualties to the winter wilt were the funny sort of pink shrub thing up the back of the garden that is as unsightly as it is ungainly and has been henceforth ripped from the ground and resigned to compost and leave space for a gooseberry plant. Much satisfaction was had when clearing out a load of rogue mint plants revealed a massive cache of snail eggs under a stepping stone which I cheerfully destroyed, only regretting that I couldn’t be sure if their parents could see me doing it. Which brings me nicely on to my next subject.

Pests:
We have talked before about my constant battle with the gastropods and the need for novel and increasingly violent control measures. I only expect my obsession with snail extinction to grow with the daylight hours of 2017, spurred on by the little poke of joy in my otherwise black heart of seeing the decimated Janaury King cabbages making a rather sad comeback in the veg patch now that those slimy swines have gone away. It’s a good time of year to dig out the beer traps in the garden which are mostly full of gunky dead leaves and give them a bit of a clean and re position ready for action in the spring too.
Moby Dick The Phantom Crapper has been noticeable in his absence of late, no doubt he winters in the Canaries with several slaves in tow, however our new bird table seems to have bought in some new predators in his wake. We have Cheeky Sod, who likes to break into my conservatory and That Raggedy One who poos in the rockery and is the WORST bird stalker in the history of rubbish felines. The sonic scarer isn’t as effective at the moment, I assume because it is solar charged but a trip to the garden centre to stock up on January sale snow drops has worked wonders by filling up the bare soil areas that the scarer can’t reach and apparently prompting the bloody cats to take their toilet elsewhere.

snowdrops

Reclaiming the cat loo with some nicely toned stones and snow drops, with the bonus of a bit of colour in the garden when everything else is a bit wet and dark.

Birds:
You should feed the birds you know, because they are a big part of your ecosystem and although in towns most of them are a bit drab and common, that doesn’t stop them from coming back in the warmer months to eat the slugs if they are used to visiting your garden!  They also live outside, and we have already established that it’s cold outside and a lot of the bugs have gone into hiding so there isn’t that much for them to eat. Give them a hand with some fat balls, peanuts and seeds at this time of year as high energy food will help to sustain them and also bring some wildlife activity to your garden which is probably kind of dull at the moment otherwise. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a handsome bird table as I am, you can buy cheap fat balls and seed bells to hang directly from tree branches or on the fence or even just scatter some seeds on table tops or areas of concrete pathway. If you wont shop for your garden friends chuck them out some bacon rind trimmings from the kitchen, cheese scraps and chopped apple cores seem to go down well too. As a rule we see loads of blue tits and robins early on dry days (they like the peanuts) and have more visits from blackbirds and the odd starling later in the day regardless of the weather. The depressed wood pigeon likes to just land on the table and trash everything once in a while. He’s seasonal affective, you know.

Plants!
There isn’t much edible happening right now, the cabbages are fighting back but can’t really be considered a crop and I have a couple of surprise sprouts coming forth from some onions I missed earlier in the year but that’s about it from the patch. My rosemary plant is decidedly stoic and fragrant despite the weather and I have a rather lovely bay tree who has survived the frosts and has lots of lovely, dark and shiny leaves prime for plucking. Errol the lemon tree is looking very sad and has dropped all of his leaves for the first time ever but has some new and green branches so hopefully he will be back to action next month. The window sill chilli plant has another crop coming up and is likely to need a bigger pot this year.

Perhaps the best bit of all the tidying and pottering at this time of year is the planning. Despite a pretty unsuccessful time of it in 2016 lessons were learned and tips taken and I’m eager to get to grips with some conservatory propagation in about a month. Planned projects this year will be parsnips and climbing courgettes, plus getting the lettuces out early and trying to improve on September’s carrot harvest. There is much research still to be done to avoid another blight on the plums and having made some excellent pickled pears in November I’m hoping that these are bountiful again (must write this up, I know I know).  I have my eye on a superfluous hazlenut tree which might have to make way for my kitchen herbs area once I work out the daylight dynamics of that corner and will soon be clearing an area of the shed to dedicate entirely to biological warfare. Fun times ahead!