You Heart What You Eat: Kale Me!

Tera Johnson-Swartz
Tera Johnson-Swartz is the author of the "You Heart What You Eat" weekly blog series about healthy recipes and tips from decadent desserts to main dishes.

— I’ll be the first to admit I grow weary of salad even though it’s served at about 6 of the 7 dinners a week at our house. Even with a wide selection of dressings, additional veggies, interchangeable fruits, nuts and cheeses, I can’t help but want to throw a full on temper tantrum like my toddler just so I don’t have to eat them. Nevertheless, I’ve accepted that sometimes we eat things that are good for us not because we like them but because it sets a good example for our children and most importantly prolongs the health and longevity of our bodies.

Since our family moved to Steamboat in 2011, I’ve been able to swap recipes and grown accustomed to flavors outside of my stash of adapted cookbooks from my husband’s mom and aunt who live in our little mountain town. One of my favorites, however, has been that of my mother-in-law, Amy’s homemade kale chips over salads.

Now, upon first glance I thought for certain I would have to get a back-up napkin and extra glass of water to wash it down, and since I had tried just about every flavor of store-bought kale chips, I had little expectation that homemade ones would be much better. Still, with my country roots I knew I would at least have to try what was in front of me before making such a declaration that I hated kale chips. And for that, I am forever grateful.

Amy’s simple kale chip recipe has become a staple in my salads, for snacks and in place of regular chips with sandwiches and fortunately my son has an equal love for them, so how could I deny him his right to healthy snacks? While there are vast selection options of fresh kale at the store in your produce section, these are probably the cheapest snacks you can find – usually about 99 cents a bundle for organic kale, and they are packed with benefits including but not limited to a high fibrous content, folate (great for brain development even in adults), calcium, potassium and zinc. I could probably go on and on just about the health benefits of kale, but really, I’d recommend eating kale chips just because they taste good and can go with just about anything (even a crunchy topping to Mac ‘n Broccoleese).

Kale Chips

1 bundle of fresh kale (any color or style)
  • olive oil
garlic salt

Preheat your oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Coarsely chop the leafy parts of the kale bundle, discarding the stalks (you can use for vegetable stock if you choose, or throw it in your compost bin).

In a bowl toss the chopped kale in olive oil (just enough to lightly coat, be careful not to drench the poor leaves) and garlic salt (or add some nutritional yeast, parmesan or other seasoning for extra flavor). Evenly spread the mixture of chopped, seasoned leaves into the baking dish bake for about 10-15 minutes.

Every five minutes or so, peak in and redistribute the leaves, ensuring each piece is being evenly cooked and crisped. Be careful not to allow the chips to become brown, as they will then burn and become bitter in taste. They will likely turn a dark green coloring when they are done, and if necessary you can always remove the crispy portions a bit at a time while the rest cooks. Enjoy warm or allow them to cool, it’s your call, but if they’re to be served over salad, add them AFTER you’ve pre-tossed the salad to keep the crisp, chip-like texture before the dressing makes them soft or breaks them apart. Enjoy!

YOU HEART WHAT YOU EAT is a weekly blog offering a twist of healthy alternative tips and recipes for some of our most coveted comfort foods. From decadent desserts to main dish favorites, you’ll surely look forward to our next edition. Questions or suggestions you’d like included in one of our future blogs should be directed to Tera Johnson-Swartz via email at

Tera Johnson-Swartz is a mommy first, but also enjoys working one of her many, many side gigs whether it be freelance writing, music, massage therapy, independent childbirth, lactation or health educating. She is eternally grateful she is able to follow her passion each and every day and loves her supporting husband and their two young children  and couldn’t imagine living a better life outside the city limits of Steamboat Springs.

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