Long gone are the days of only having potato and corn chips in the grocery store chips aisles. Other vegetable chips have made their way onto grocery store shelves, including black bean chips, baked pea chips and sweet potato crisps. The $560 billion-dollar global snack food market proves that Americans still enjoy their snack foods. However, there is a desire for healthier snack options.
Chips made from beans and other legumes, such as peas and lentils, can be high in dietary fiber, which leaves us feeling full longer. Sweet potato crisps can be a source of vitamin A, just as other dehydrated vegetables may offer a variety of nutrients. Nevertheless, veggie chips are not exactly up to par as their source vegetable. Veggie chips are, in fact, still snack chips, and like potato and corn chips, they may still be a source of fat, added sugars or sodium.
Veggie chips can be baked or fried. While baked chips are often a tad lower in fat content, they are often still coated with oil.
On the plus side, vegetable chips, whether baked or fried, are usually made with non-hydrogenated canola oil, which means lower amounts of “bad” fats, including saturated and trans. No matter whether you are crunching on a potato chip or a veggie chip, you are likely to get about the same amount of sodium. Veggie chips will be salted to improve taste.
The truth is, vegetable chips may not be much healthier than potato chips, and likewise should be eaten in moderation.
1 large bunch fresh Kale
Optional seasonings: Salt and pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes
¼ cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse kale and pat dry with a paper towel. Remove the stalks from the kale and discard. Tear the leaves into slightly larger than chip-size pieces (they will shrink).
Place the kale into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the seasonings and toss to coat evenly.
Arrange the leaves on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and place in oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp. Remove immediately from baking sheet and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Let them cool slightly and serve.
Yield: 3-4 cups of chips
Nutritional analysis per ½ cup serving: 70 calories, 7 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 120 milligrams sodium, 2 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 1 gram protein
Smith is nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306.