The kale chips my kids won’t eat

In the vision, we grew a garden. Our perfectly-amended soil, combined with the perfect amount of gentle Midwestern rain, gave roots the nutrients they needed to grow by ample sunlight into a (somewhat humble) and generously-fruited garden. My acceptably dirt-covered children helped me weed, and at harvest time, like when picking strawberries, they tentatively asked if they could take a bite. And in that crunch, their hearts were given over to a burgeoning love of fresh vegetables.

Right. Does anyone have some kids I can borrow to make this dream come to fruition? The garden is good, the kids are dirty. But then everything gets muddled and confused as I’m startled to reality by the sound of my 5-year old asking if he can just go inside on a perfect 80º day and play the DS.

I couldn’t wait for the kale to come up, because in a discussion with some friends about their favorite go-to summer recipes, one mom mentioned kale chips — that her kids simply could not get enough of them. So in my mind, her kids are about the same age as my kids, they aren’t vegetarian or vegan, they aren’t superhuman. If her kids like kale chips, then this could be my ticket to getting at least one serving of leafy green veggies into my (still, ironically, dirt-covered) children before they can legally drink a beer.

So one morning I acted out the sort of photographic scene you would find in any food or gardening magazine: I harvested our lovely kale, washed it 3 times, tore it into little pieces, and made a baking sheet full of kale chips. I presented them to my children, who upon just seeing them noted that they still looked like something leafy, something green, something from the garden, something they would most definitely not like.

But they are SALTY! And CRUNCHY! It’s just like eating a potato chip!

They each had to try one, because that’s how we roll. And at the end of it, I had three kids looking like I’d just placed drops of cyanide on each of their tongues. Seriously, it was like I had poisoned them. They begged me for water, with tears pooling in their eyes. It was like I had morphed into a 5’7″ kale chip, standing before them ready to smother with gargantuan leafy appendages.

How ridiculous. If I morphed into a giant vegetable, I would totally be a root vegetable.

Despite what my children would have you believe, these are a wonderful way to eat kale. I can eat a whole tray of them for dinner — but they are also great crumbled over grain salads, as I discovered when faced with the leftovers of my garden-magazine-worthy vision gone sour.


Kale Chips (recipe courtesy Emily Vanest, who has better veggie-loving genes to pass on to her children than I)

  • fresh kale leaves, thick stems removed and torn into rough 3″ pieces*
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

Preheat oven to 350º. Toss kale leaves with olive oil and salt to taste. Bake for 10 minutes, until crispy but not too brown. Let cool, and if desired eat straight from the pan, bypassing your children.

* the leaves wilt a good deal when cooked — the photo above (kale in the pan) is before cooking — and I really did eat all of this batch.




16 thoughts on “The kale chips my kids won’t eat

  1. and now I just might buy kale at the farmers market tomorrow, if there is any. I bet Piper will eat it, Nola will try one piece and declare it gross. Gage will not eat it on his plate but for sure stick it in his mouth if I throw it on the sidewalk.

  2. I had the same experience when I made kale chips- my husband wouldn’t eat them, and I happily ate the whole batch, though I was a bit disappointed I didn’t create a kale convert. I didn’t grow kale this year, since I’d be the only one eating it.

  3. I grew kale for the last two summers and never did a thing with it. I think I was slightly intimidated about putting much time into something that just might not turn out so good. (I have given it to a friend who says it’s delicious cooked with onions in EVOO.)

    A couple months ago I once again planted it with high hopes. So this WILL be the summer I actually eat kale from my garden. (Even if my kiddos don’t.)

  4. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one a)growing a monstrous amount of veggies in my back yard that probably only I will eat and b)who has a child that finds it tortuous to put the DS down and play outside at times.

    If I ever bring kale in this house again my family will kill me. Let’s just say the kale brownies didn’t go over so well. In addition, I have created a legion of people who are very suspicious of anything green I call parsley. But kale chips are yummy. I’d help you eat them.

  5. I saw an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow saying that her kids couldn’t get enough of her homemade kale chips and I had my doubts. However, I will be getting kale at the Starkville Farmer’s Market in the morning and seeing what Jerry thinks. He’ll probably love them, he could eat salad all day, everyday. If I don’t screw them up, that is… 🙂

    1. I really am going to be Aunt Nez to the kids — the spinsterly, kind-hearted aunt who lives alone and who the kids love to visit because I have the multicolor blocks AND the so-bad-for-you cookies and sweets that mom forbids.

  6. Um, Im thinking Im the one you are describing (or maybe not)…my kids do love it. Although I will say they only love it in smaller amounts. One summer a few years ago we got insane amounts of kale in our CSA bin and I made it almost every day. Not a good plan.
    There is a great Moosewoods recipe for sweet and sour greens I could look up for ya….we loved it that way too!

  7. I have made kale chips 2x now, and both times the kids and I have eaten the whole batch so that there weren’t even any left for my husband to try when he got home. So, I’ll count myself amongst the lucky 🙂 But they’ll eat most anything if it has enough salt on it.

  8. Kale overgrows our garden, and this year we limited ourselves to two squares of it. Still, I can’t believe how quickly it comes and comes… Glad to see the kale chip recipe still making the rounds. I passed it on to Emily, and her kids gobbled it up (I think Jon even asked for them for his birthday dinner!?)… My Mark (not Emily’s) despises them, of course, but the kids inale them. I have been baking them at a lower temperature (250 degrees), since I’d inevitably have some burned chips and some undercooked ones (which we know don’t taste good AT ALL) and have had better luck… A friend posted about them a while ago here:

    And, for what it’s worth, you’d make a good-looking 5’7″ kale chip, though my kids might want to eat you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s