Friday, January 25, 2013

DIY BBQ-Flavor Kale Chips - Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Paleo, Primal

True confessions time: I have been having a really hard time with this nutrition challenge. You'd think a challenge vet like myself would not have difficulties with a challenge - I've done 3 on my own and this challenge makes the 5th with my Crossfit box. And it is true - the more challenges I've done, the better I've gotten with economies of scale, sourcing my food, planning ahead, and honing the recipes that really work for me and my family.

For me, this time the difficulty is boiling down to a) motivation - it is so hard to keep it going when I am not able to work out the same way that I did in past challenges (due to rehabbing an injury), and b) boredom/monotony, because I haven't been proactive about mixing it up with different foods, instead falling back frequently on my usual stand-by recipes. Also, during this challenge I am trying something new and combining the J.J. Virgin recommendations with the paleo challenge portion, so I am not eating eggs, which has proven far more difficult than I'd have guessed - eggs are my breakfast go-to, after all!

The monotony thing has really gotten to me, because even a good 12 days into the challenge, I am finding myself drawn to taste-bud-hijacking junk foods (sweet and salty both) and prepaleo comfort foods. I have managed to not slip up, but these cravings tell me that I need to get some new challenge-legal snacks in my life!

Speaking of challenge-legal snacks, I'm already thinking ahead to a classic comfort food occasion: the Super Bowl. I don't even care about football, but boy, do I love football-watching food. We are hosting some friends, and I'm planning ahead this year to have challenge-friendly fare at the ready: Some slow-cooked shredded carnitas in a crock-pot, maybe some hot wings (if it's not too cold for grilling), veggies and guacamole, Clementines, and so on. Perhaps I will also make kale chips! After all, nothing says, game food like something crispy and savory.

Today, I tried out my first go at kale chips - I've had them store-bought before from the company Brad's, which does a marvelous job - but I was hoping to get similar results at home for a fraction of the price. The cashew butter combined with the apple cider vinegar and seasonings lends a rich umami "cheesy" flavor, to these, as well. This is what resulted, and my daughters and I enjoyed the chips so much that I couldn't resist sharing!

Barbecue Flavor Kale Chips
Makes about 2 cups of chips


  • Bunch of fresh kale, about the size of two fists, with stems removed and chopped into roughly chip-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cashew butter (can sub nut butter of choice, or tahini, or sunbutter - though I don't recommend the final toasting at 450 with these due to oxidation concerns)
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • 1 tablespoon oil of choice (I used macadamia oil, which has a higher smoke point)
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (raw organic apple cider vinegar is usually cheapest found in stores, around $3/bottle)
  • 4 drops organic stevia extract (optional, adds to the BBQ flavor, could also sub honey or maple syrup depending on your goals)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 4 drops fish sauce (optional; I used Red Boat, which is free of junk - made of just anchovies and salt)
  • Sea salt to taste (I used 30 cranks from my sea salt grinder)


After washing the kale pieces, use a paper towel to get as much moisture as possible off of the kale. Put the kale pieces in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.

In a blender or mini food processor, blend the remaining ingredients until smooth. Mixture will be thick unless bacon fat was already warm/liquid.

Spoon the blended seasoning mix into the Ziploc bag with the kale pieces. Close the bag and "massage" it for a couple of minutes to get the seasoning mix into as many crannies of the kale as possible. The mix will warm just a bit from the massage action and probably become a little less thick, so this will help your task.

Spread the kale chips in a cake pan or cookie sheet, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, gently stirring the chips around the pan every 10 minutes or so. The kale will get a little limp before it starts to dry and crisp up during this process. Finish the chips with 1 minute of the broiler set on 425 just crisp the chips just a little more. Enjoy hot, fresh, and crispy, straight out of the oven!

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  1. So addicting! My kids usually eat the whole bowl of kale chips before I have a chance to get any! I love the BBQ idea! We are always up for trying new flavors!!

  2. Great recipe! I have a tortilla chip recipe up at Primal Primos but you've inspired me to try some BBQ flavored chips! Awesome...thanks!


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