Introduction: Kale Chips: Nacho Cheese Flavor
I am a sucker for cheese flavored chips. I can easily polish off a whole bag. My health conscious daughter made me a deal. As long as she keeps her room clean, I cannot eat any regular chips. This has been a tough agreement for the both of us. But, I am allowed to eat healthy kale chips. So I set off on my journey to make the tastiest kale chips I could. At first, I tried baking kale. This needed constant attention and the kale was easily burnt. The taste was ok, but I wanted more flavor. After much experimentation, I searched and worked on a recipe to recreate the Nacho Cheese flavor of Doritos. The amazing thing with this recipe is that it contains no dairy. It achieves it through cashews, nutritional yeast and lemon juice.
The one thing you will need and may not have is a dehydrator. I have owned two of them and each has its merits. My first one was a Nesco, round, 5 tray unit. It cost $60 and worked well, but died after two years of use. It was light, but some of the chips would stick to the tray, making removal difficult. I liked that the trays stacked, since when you stacked them, it would gently push down anything that was sticking up. Since I was dehydrating a lot, I upgraded and bought an Excalibur, square, 5 tray unit with timer. It costs over $200. It is heavier than the Nesco, but the trays all have a flexible plastic insert which make removing the chips much easier. You just take the liner and flex it slightly both ways and all the chips can be slid off. Beside being heavier, another slight con is that the trays slide into place. You have to baby in some of the taller pieces of kale when sliding a full tray in. If you are just starting out, I would recommend going with the cheaper unit. If cost doesn't matter or if you plan on diving deep into the dehydrating world, then splurge on the Excalibur. Now on to making some healthy kale chips.
- 1 head of curly leaf kale
- 1 cup of cashews, soaked for 2-3 hours.
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 4 Tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1-2 lemons)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, adjust up or down to suit your preference
- 1/4+ cup water
- Wash kale, remove the fibrous stalks, split into 1-2 inch piece and dry in a salad spinner. It is best if these are slightly moist, not completely dry.
- Combine cashews, yeast, lemon juice, spices and salt into a blender. Although the cashews soak up a good amount of water, the mixture may be too dry to blend well. Start adding some of the water and pulse blend. I use one of the medium settings. Continue adding water until the mixture is just able to blend on its own without help. If the mixture is too thick, it will be difficult to coat. But if it is too thin, it will run and drip everywhere. You want to reach a consistency like cake batter. Depending on your preference for the size of the nuts, you can blend more or less. For this recipe, I prefer a little bit of crunch from the cashews, so I don't blend it too fine. You can see very small bits of cashews in the blender picture still.
- Add a handful of kale into a mixing bowl. Put a big scoop of mixture over the kale and blend by hand. Although it is messy, this is the best way to work the sauce into every surface of the kale. Use your thumbs and move the mixture around each leaf.
- Lay out on dehydrator mats and dehydrate on low, 125 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 hours. Chips are done when kale and mixture are dry and crunchy.
- Remove and enjoy. Store in a airtight container with a packet of silica gel to keep the chips crunchy.