Who are you when you eat kale chips?

Recently, I made kale chips and I felt a little weird about it.

I made them for a session with a client, where we ate kale chips together. I am such a curmudgeon sometimes about trying new things, and I’m grateful to my clients for pushing me out of my comfort zone. Last month it was green smoothies, now kale chips. Both times, I experienced the heady rush of diving headfirst into the Virtuous Internet Foods zeitgeist.

I have been aware of the existence of kale chips for a long time. If you spend any time on the internet at all, how could you miss them? They are posted on Facebook pretty regularly, seem popular on recipe sites, and I’m sure there has been plenty of Instagram kale chip documentation.

But for those who have missed it, kale chips are pieces of kale leaf that have been covered in oil and salt and baked until crispy, rather like potato chips. They are to potato chips what raisins are to Halloween candy; they are the carob to Hershey’s milk chocolate — good in their own right, possessing similar qualities…and still somehow not quite the same. They are the kind of snack Dawn Schafer would bring to a Babysitters Club sleepover.

I’ve been aware of what I will refer to as the Greater Internet Kale Phenomenon for a lot longer. I made a passing reference to it last year, and soon after that, I happened to read a brilliantly funny blog post that riffed on the kale phenomenon.

So what is the deal with kale? Why are we (well, I’m projecting here, this is really all about me, sorry) hearing so much about it, and why does it seem to have taken the place at the top of the Virtuous Foods Pyramid – ousting former favourites like orange juice, spinach, and whole grains, along the way?

The straight answer would seem to be: micronutrients. Kale is one of the much-cherished dark, leafy greens that people love to tell each other to eat as often as possible. A quick perusal of my internet girlfriend, the USDA National Nutrient Database, demonstrates that raw kale contains a whack-ton of vitamin A, and doesn’t show up too poorly on calcium, potassium and vitamin K, either. There’s even some vitamin C in there, and the usual smattering of B vitamins (which seem to appear in every food I look up, everywhere, since forever.)

However, I’m unconvinced that micronutrients are the whole reason behind kale’s ongoing debutante ball. At least one sketchy-looking website informs me that the phytochemicals in kale will prevent cancer, and will also shrink existing tumours, but PEN is silent on the matter, other than saying that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables in accordance with Canada’s Food Guide may help to reduce one’s risk of cancer.

(Which is another way of saying, there is not enough experimental or other evidence on this topic to form a solid, official recommendation for various phytochemicals, so hedge your bets by eating enough of everything. And beware of scammy cancer advice on the internet.)

So, micronutrients and phytochemicals aside, what else is so great about kale? Here’s a thought experiment:

Would eating kale chips feel somehow different than eating a calorically equivalent amount of potato chips with a phytochemical-micronutrient chaser in pill form?

Now, some people would balk at the supplement pill, claiming it couldn’t possibly contain all the goodness of real, live kale, but for the sake of argument let’s just pretend that, in this particular fantasy scenario, it does. Magic has been performed, and all the goodness of kale has been reduced to pill form, minus the calories. For an added bonus, pretend the supplement was created in an organic, environmentally sustainable and fair-trade manner, sourced from local ingredients by workers earning a living wage.

All that remains is to eat your potato chips and take your pill and feel equally virtuous to your kale chip-eating alternate self. Would you?

Some would, I know, because people vary. Some people’s food concerns really do begin and end with the issues I’ve neatly dispatched with my magical imaginary wonderpill.

But a good many of us (myself included, I suspect) would not. We might still feel vaguely more virtuous while eating the actual, honest-to-goodness kale, and vaguely more dirty eating the potato chip-wonderpill combo – especially if there were anyone around to watch us.

This tells me that there may be more going on than the mere nutrition, or even the production ethics, of kale. There may be a potent symbolic meaning attached to kale, among certain people, at this time.

Well, what is it?

What does it mean to eat kale? And, more to the point, what kind of person are you when you do?

break50

Free association in comments.

Hi! A real, live person wrote this post, and is currently reading, moderating, and responding to your comments. Please assume good faith, even if something I say upsets you. I am still learning, so bear with me. I’m always reading new books and research, and I hope to write about what I learn here in the future.

I’m not really into arguments on the blog, because it’s not a great format. But if you’re here to share your personal experiences, your ideas, your own answers to the above questions, and to give support to other commenters, then you are very, definitely, most extravagantly welcome.

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314 Comments

  1. Kell Brigan
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Poor kale. Don’t worry, kale. Soon it will be over, and there will be another Food of the Week, and you can go back to being a delicious chiffonade on a sandwich, or a non-slimy alternative to cooked spinach, or carmelized garlic’s BFF. I know… I know… You never meant to be “nutritious.” You just wanted to be good.

    • Posted March 7, 2013 at 3:18 am | Permalink

      I’m with you. I didn’t even know about kale chips. I eat kale pan fried and then steamed (by adding water) with onions and apple. It’s yummy. But now it’s some kind of superfood? Yeah, whatever.

      • Julie
        Posted August 11, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        Kale with onions and apple sounds so delicious. Is there anything else you add to the dish?

  2. Megan
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Ha! I love this post. I first consumed kale chips about 5 years ago at a dinner meeting of an urban ecology research group. I thought they were delicious! But not delicious enough make them myself for over 4 years. Then I grew kale in my garden, because it seemed like the Thing To Do, and made a whole bunch into kale chips according to a very Hip Internet Recipe which was largely tahini based and totally disgusting, according to my taste buds. I still like the plain olive oil and salt ones.
    To answer your question, I would absolutely eat the potato chip with the nutrient chaser at least 80% of the time. There’s a time and a place in my life for almost every snack food! Especially if I get a magical nutrient chaser.

  3. La
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Well, I have to admit that I haven’t tried the kale chips. But, I do like kale and have eaten it steamed, creamed, in soups, etc. I also eat it raw, in smoothies (which I happen to love – even if they are really healthy for you). It’s really good and I do feel good about eating nutritious foods. Although I know these foods don’t make me model thin, or thin at all for that matter, I feel good about eating them for the health of my body. I feel good when I eat right. By the way, if I was having one of those “cravy” days, I would eat the potato chips and pop the vitamin. Works for me!

  4. Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m liking everyone’s responses and thoughts, thank you guys.

    Just some random things I associate kale with, personally, whether rational or not:

    -virtue
    -classiness
    – “clean eating” (a phrase I really dislike)
    – “eating right” (almost dislike this one as much)
    -Whole Foods (no idea why)
    -CSA boxes
    -vegetables I buy with good intentions but then rot in the fridge
    -shame/embarrassment for not having tried it until very recently (my closest grocery store is very small and did not carry it until recently. I could have gone somewhere else, but frankly I am lazy.)

    Despite all that, I found I really liked kale. It has that vaguely oniony/cruciferousy taste that I enjoy in veggies, and I’ve been pretty okay with leafy greens for quite a while (except super bitter ones.) And it’s sturdy and doesn’t go bad too quickly, which I like, despite my experience with other leafy things. Other people I’ve talked to really disliked it and felt like they failed somehow for not liking it! I thought that was interesting.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      OMG “clean eating.” How can such a seemingly innocuous phrase make me SO ANGRY? Oh, right: because the connotation is that any food not composed almost entirely of cauliflower puree is “dirty.” Grrrrrr…

      • Lisa
        Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        Oh god yes. Clean Eating. OMG. I hate this phrase so much. So much judgement inherent in it. I can’t deal.

      • Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

        Someone had a great discussion of this on Tumblr the other day – http://moniquill.tumblr.com/post/44542849660/bossymarmalade-i-am-really-repulsed-by-this

        The phrase dings my “disordered eating terminology” radar, though I know not everyone feels that way.

        • Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          Woah, that post is amazing! So perfectly right on.

      • Posted March 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        Every time I hear “clean eating,” I choose — for the sake of not letting my thoughts spiral into disordered eating — to interpret as folks talking about how they don’t eat food that has fallen, like, in the dirt. You know, if you’ve ever made hot dogs at a picnic. Like that.

        It’s easier for me that way.

        • Posted March 6, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

          I wholeheartedly endorse this strategy!

          • Posted March 7, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

            A kind of kale has been eaten in my country for ages. My mom grows it in her garden. It is cheap, it is available in winter, it tastes good with a certain kind of spicy sausages. We do not attach any virtue or sense of clean eating to kale. It seems the meaning attached to food varies depending on where you live or grew up.

          • Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            Definitely.

      • anna
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        ah crud. i am totally guilty of this. I didn’t think of it that way. i’ll try not to do it anymore.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Associations are so weird!

      I associate kale with collards and other greens my mom would cook in bacon fat. Often with red potatoes. :)

      • Kylara7
        Posted March 9, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        That’s my association too…I adore collards/kale/spinach greens with bacon or ham fat. And I’m a nerdy white girl from the North who just happened to have some southern friends who liked to cook. However, I also noticed that some friends of Italian heritage made a mean “beans and greens” dish of escarole sauteed in olive oil with white (cannelini?) beans and lots of garlic. My Eastern European relatives had a similar dish of sauteed/stewed cabbage with butter and chunks of meat. So my conclusion is that greens are a classic “food of the common people” and that much like the gentrification/hipster movement, they have been reappropriated as the next cool thing ;)

        • Hfemme
          Posted June 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          TOTALLY AGREE. My family is Eastern European and greens are a cheap food we put into stews or soups or other delicious tasty dishes! Then the hipsters messed up my understanding of kale/greens and confused me. They told me I needed to eat a Raw Foods Diet to achieve Clean Eating and they said no to sauces and salad dressing. When I told my dad this (70+ year old super wise Romanian man who works in the medical industry) he said “Zat is reeedeeekulous. You need all the delicious fat in those stews to even absorb zee vitamins in the greens. DUH, Emilia-Ana.” Yes, dad. DUH. NUTRITION.

          • Posted June 18, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

            Your dad knows what he is talking about.

    • Elizabeth Andersen
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      In truth, “Clean Food” always makes me think of Fight Club. The scene where Marla asks for a bunch of stuff in the restaurant and then “Jack” grabs the waiter and says, “Clean Food!” Then the waiter recommend that she not eat the clam chowder. I’ve always wondered if that Clean Eating author intended to hint that anything outside of what she tells you to eat has been peed in…or maybe I’m a cinemaphile who puts too much thought into these things. Anyhow, the phrase rubs me the wrong way, too.

      • Posted March 8, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        You’re not the only one making that connection. I posted to my G+ the other day that the only clean food was food that you wash. In the comments we talked about what was meant by the clean food people and why we hated the term, but someone linked to that Fight Club bit, too.

    • s.h.
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      “-vegetables I buy with good intentions but then rot in the fridge”

      Haha, I have many of these foods, but kale is suprisingly not one of them! I tend to buy kale because, for me at least, it lasts so much longer than any other leafy green. I only buy frozen spinach because fresh just goes bad right away for me, and I only buy lettuce if I know that I will be able to use it up within four days.

    • Posted March 7, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      Re: associating kale with Whole Foods–I could have sworn that the president of Whole Foods, John Mackey, had personally recommended kale as the healthiest thing ever, but I can’t find that in Google. However, every time Mackey talks about what he eats, it seems to involve kale. And there’s a recent New York Times interview with him called “John Mackey, the Kale King”. Also, according to Whole Foods, kale is near the top in ANDI scores (nutrient measurement thingy), tied with mustard/turnip/collard greens and watercress, so maybe I was thinking of the ANDI system (which Whole Foods endorses) endorsing kale. (I like collard greens best out of those tied-for-first choices.)

    • Posted March 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Hi Michelle, re produce going bad in fridge – I have started using those Vegetable bags from Ziploc. They keep produce quite well. Some greens might get a little wilt-y but depending on what they are (i.e. spinach) would still work in a soup or cooked.

      • Posted March 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        I haven’t tried these, but if I see them at my store, I will! Thank you.

    • maizy
      Posted May 21, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      yuck yuck yuck kale chips ruin a delicious thing. I love kale so much. steamed, raw, in soups, in smoothies, any way except kale chips or baked. I don`t like the flavor or the texture they take on. I am a leafy green addict because of how my body feels after eating them. I have a lot of food allergies (to lots of healthy things and to lots of chemical things) and greens are a food I rely on because my body responds really well to them and doesn`t freak out. and in my climate, kale is one of the easiest and cheapest foods for me to grow. I kind of like that kale got really popular, because that means in between growing it myself, if I`m short, I know the super market will probably have old faithful. kale, the veggie that hasn`t failed me. tomatoes have. strawberries have. grapefruit has. all the best things! I am so thankful for dinosaur kale!! it looks like a dino`s skin, is sturdy to cook with and makes me feel good from the inside out. If I wasn`t allergic to like…everything in a potato chip, I`d probably eat some of them from time to time but knowing how much I love the texture, the flavor and the color of dinosaur kale, I don`t think I`d ever swap the real deal for a vitamin pill! I`m a very visual person and decorating my plate with all kinds of green and purple vegetables is super fun for me. I`m also kind of glad I have all these allergies because it forced me to learn how to make junk food that satisfies my monnnnnster snack cravings but won`t make my throat close off or my guts eat themselves, and is good for me. plus I am a huge plant geek so no wonder I love my vegetables so much. haha!

  5. Elizabeth Andersen
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I tried a packaged kale chip last weekend, because I thought I should find out what they taste like before making any judgements on them. Maybe the ones I bought were just not very good, but I really didn’t like them. I’m not much of a potato chip fan either, though. Can I have the pill and some nachos instead? :P

    Seriously though, the ongoing internet game of “eat this-not that-oh wait-we changed our minds and what was healthy last week is now poison” is making my head spin. I’ve been finding myself getting more and more frustrated with food. It seems like no matter what I do, it’s wrong. How on earth does anyone stay sane when eating, regardless of your size or level of health?!

    • Linda Strout
      Posted March 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      Avoid stories about food like the plague. I’ve been trying to do this and have enjoyed all of my food so much more.

      • Gently Feral
        Posted September 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        Avoid stories about food like the plague.

        Except recipes of the “here’s a new way to play with your food” variety. Have y’all tried making salad dressings with milk mayonnaise yet? No? Let me infect you:

        leitesculinaria.com/32983/writings-milk-mayonnaise.html‎

        • Linda Strout
          Posted September 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

          LOL Okay, stories about new food nummieness are okay. :)

    • Jesse the K
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Packaged kale chips are to fresh kale chips as Hostess donuts are to doughnuts fresh from the fryer. Kale chips begin to lose their magic around 15 minutes after they come out of the oven. Packaged kale chips aren’t even the same color, not to mention texture, flavor, smell, and mouthfeel.

    • NaeNae
      Posted May 10, 2013 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t tried the packaged kale chips, but I LOVE making them fresh. They are fairly easy too, just spray with vegetable spray (like Pam) and sprinkle with seasoning (my favorite is cajun) and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

      I like them not just for the nutrition, but because they taste so good! Even without all the internet hype, I would still be making them. Plus, at $1.50 a bunch, Kale is as cheap, or cheaper, than potato chips!

      • Posted July 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        I put about a thousand pounds of olive oil on and then go crazy with fancy salt/fresh pepper. You can get all kinds of cool flavors with fancy salt. I ended up liking kale chips better than potato chips, but that’s because my mouth is made of chiffon and potato chips cut it to shreds. It’s painful. Kale isn’t. Also the funny texture of kale is very pleasing to me.

  6. Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    This post made me laugh, because I’ve been a kale evangelist since the late 90’s (oh, god, does that make me a kale hipster?!). By kale evangelist, I mean that when I worked at a co-op and started eating it for the first time, I fell in love. I love the taste of kale. I love that it’s a hardy green that doesn’t go smooshy in soup (caldo verde was my introduction to kale!). When kale chips started showing up, I swooned. I roast it, I toss it with pasta, I try to add it to an ungodly number of foods. I think it’s delicious. Do I feel good eating it because I generally feel physically better when I eat whole foods? Because it’s healthy? Because it’s delicious? Because I feel morally superior? Maybe all of the above, though I hope it’s not very much of the latter.

    I’m still hoping Chinese broccoli takes off.

    And I also love potato chips.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Total kale hipster. Someone will soon be setting up blog to make fun of you. Sorry.

      It is really tasty though, so I can understand your enthusiasm.

      Chinese broccoli is also great. As are potato chips.

    • Kell Brigan
      Posted March 6, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Siberian kale is especially good — kinda a cross between curly leaf kale and red leaf lettuce, only more “sturdy” than lettuce.

      I think the best kale chips have the texture of a Cadbury flake bar on a cool day — that really great crumbliness. The sort of “green tea” flavor makes it even better.

    • Anne
      Posted March 8, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      I absolutely love chinese broccoli.

    • Gently Feral
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Jacquelyn Gill:

      I toss it with pasta,

      Cook it with onions and garlic and things and puree it. Then toss it with pasta. :)

      • Susan S
        Posted September 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Ooh! Like a cooked kale pesto? You know, that sounds pretty amazing. So does a raw kale pesto. Three-quarters kale, one quarter curly sweet basil, to get the delicacy of kale and avoid being overwhelmed by basil so it gets bitter?

        I need to go shopping tomorrow.

  7. Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    I ate kale for the first time this year and really enjoyed it, but not enough to cook it myself. Given the choice between kale chips and potato chips (+magic pill), I would guess (since I haven’t tried them) that I’d go for the kale chips. Two reasons. One–I am trying to eat more veggies because they make me feel good even if I don’t enjoy them (and chips might be a way to ENJOY them AND feel good). Two–I don’t actually really like potato chips. *shrug*

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      That’s an interesting point – vegetables make people feel good, even if they are not always the most enjoyable. I share this experience, by the way, and I eat more vegetables now than I did when I was younger. I’ve learned to like the taste of them, but some of that is just halo effect from them helping me to feel full and satisfied (in the presence of other, richer foods), as well as nourished and energetic later on.

      • Traceluna
        Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        I love kale. I love vegetables in general. I think I feel better when I eat kale chips (olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, yum) in part because they’re only good when they’re homemade. And because I’m not always the greatest at finding time to cook vegetables for myself (even though I love them). So when I feed myself veggies–including yummy, nutrient-packed kale–I get an extra little self-love brain boost from knowing I’ve put the time into making something that 1) I enjoy and 2) will make my body happy.

        Even given the restrictions on my own time and willingness to cook and consume food, I’d still rather eat a variety of foods than a magic be-all magic nutrients + fiber + whatever pill + potato chips. Even if what I actually eat in real life is less varied and interesting than I’d like it to be–and despite the fact that potato chips are delicious.

      • rydra_wong
        Posted March 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        *nods*

        For me, I do find that my body seems to feels and run better when I eat more dark leafy greens. And I really like them when I do eat them (I am definitely not a supertaster), but it’s also easy for me to neglect them when I’m in a hurry or tired.

        So there is the element of “here is something I want to make a conscious effort to eat more of, because it will be good for me and make my body feel more nourished”. And especially easy/tasty recipes for that are therefore a good thing.

        I suppose the question is how one avoids that getting tangled up with the idea that “this is a a Virtuous Food of special, magical purity”.

        Because I do in fact think that kale crisps are delicious. Salty, oily, crispy crunchy savouriness, and that underlying slightly bitter dark greenness …

        • Bonnie
          Posted September 20, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

          RE: Clean Eating
          I grew up in a household where we grew most of our own vegetables and stored them over the winter by canning or freezing. There is something to be said about knowing where your food came from, how it was grown, and the sense of satisfaction that comes with being self sufficient. For me- that is the definition of clean eating. Its simplifying the process, and bringing it back to its origins. This also goes hand in hand with seasonal eating (don’t expect ripe tomatoes in December), and supporting local dairy/vegetable/meat farms I recognize that this isn’t typical or feasible for everyone- time and energy are obvious restraints. I’m sorry, but I will always prefer a homemade pizza to a frozen “cheese substitute” thing. However, I would never pass judgment on someone who does. I’m not you, my lifestyle isn’t yours, and vice versa. If what you are doing works, then keep at it.

          Also- homemade potato chips kick butt too. slice ‘em up thin (mandolin or even the long grater on a cheese grater works awesome), toss with a little olive oil and salt…whah bam!

  8. Lisa
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Huh… neat!

    So I eat a lot of kale – it’s one of the veggies my 5 year old eats. We put it on our pizza and it gets really crispy, we put it in our lentil soup, our burritos… whatever.

    It grows really easily in our garden yet is ignored by thieves (we often have problems with items in our garden not growing well, or getting picked by garden thieves, a common problem in Vancouver), and is hardy, so we can pick it as late as December. This was really useful for us the last half of 2012 as our finances were really tight and being able to eat kale got us at least one veggie a day.

    I don’t like kale chips though – the most of the ones I have eaten have been pretty unpleasant. Many of my friends seem to adore them, the “cheesier” the better, but I don’t care for them so much. The plain oil and salt ones, sure! Which is odd because I love nutritional yeast, craved it during pregnancy, adore the smell of it… but not in kale chips.

    It’s interesting, these things you associate with it. I can see that. I have similar associations to cabbage and grapefruit – I have to work to allow myself to buy grapefruit because we love it but I always feel like I’m buying into a diet plan to buy grapefruit.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      I have similar feelings about grapefruit. My diet associations with it were lessened somewhat by a phase my grandma went through many years ago where she sent me boxes of grapefruits, navel oranges, and honey as a winter present. I looked forward to that damn box every year in the dead of winter and it changed how I felt about grapefruit.

      • Meredith
        Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        I went through the same thing with grapefruit, and discovered I loved it when the pink ones became easily available in Canada. Then I had to stop eating it when I went on medication a couple of years ago. I miss grapefruit!

        • Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          Pink grapefruit all the way. And it’s amazing how potent it is, that it can interfere with medication. Behold, the power of grapefruit.

      • par_parenthese
        Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        OMG, those citrus boxes. *swoons* My parents bought one every year from a boy scout troop and it was weeks of supremed oranges and grapefruit with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fresh fruit! In the middle of the winter! I think it’s for that reason I’ve never had a diety feeling about grapefruit — it’s so delicious.

        • Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          I apparently have been supreming my oranges all winter and had no idea it was called that!

    • Mich
      Posted March 9, 2013 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      Interesting story: last year my mom got these premade flower planter boxes. One had 2 ornamental kale plants. They were the most beautiful things you ever saw. Fast forward a couple weeks: 30 caterpillars have come in and eat only the kale. They take off when they ate the whole thing, and left only skeletons remaining. :(

      Sad story.

  9. Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Um, hello, Babysitters Club reference? More awesome than any chip.

    I resisted kale chips for the same reasons you mention – too “virtuous super-food”-y for me to feel comfortable about them. The hype ruined them. Then a friend brought some to a meeting and I ate a portion that clocked in somewhere between “immodest” and “downright rude.” I like kale, I like olive oil, I like salt, I like crispy things… where had kale chips been all my life? So I did like all moms do and tried to make them for my kids, who, being kids, fear green vegetables like many of us fear failure. Did they eat them? Of course not.

    If I ruled the world, there would be an outright ban on referring to certain foods as “healthy alternatives” to other foods they resemble superficially. A frozen avocado in the blender with cocoa and honey is not “just like chocolate ice cream.” Breaded zucchini sticks baked in the oven are in no way like French fries. These things may all be delicious in their own way, and I’m sure I wouldn’t turn them down if offered, but they are the things they are. Nothing is just like chocolate ice cream. That’s science.

    • ksol
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 5:04 am | Permalink

      When I was a kid, my Dad tried growing spaghetti squash one year. We were told that you could shred it and eat it like spaghetti, which we tried with our normal pasta sauce. It didn’t taste anything like spaghetti, so I thought it was horrible. As an adult, I rediscovered the stuff and loved it.. sans tomato sauce. I think any time you’re substituting out “healthy” and expecting it to be the same you’re going to be sorely disappointed and wanting the real thing. I think an avocado-banana chocolate shake is a lovely thing, but when I make it I don’t expect it to taste like a chocolate shake made with ice cream.

      If you put both kale chips and potato chips in front of me, I’d go for the kale, just because I like them better. One of the unfortunate things about the whole good/bad food thing is in some ways it discourages us from eating the things that are supposed to be good for us, because they’re penance or allegedly unenjoyable. Donuts make me woozy and kale makes me feel good, but somehow the societal message I get is that I’m supposed to crave the former and eat the latter only for the sake of virtue.

      • Posted July 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        I always loved spaghetti squash (we had it with butter and Parmesan cheese and it was amazing), but nobody ever told me it was supposed to BE like spaghetti. They just said it LOOKED like spaghetti, and that I had to play with it in order to eat it. This was much more effective than pretending it was actually like the thing it looked like. I just loved shredding it.

  10. Kathleen
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    My first encounter with kale was a delicious French pasta recipe.

    1. Chop kale and boil in salty water for 25-30 mins. Drain.
    2. Heat butter and thinly-sliced garlic.
    3. Add kale and cook for 10 mins.
    4. Add a pile of cream. Simmer gently for a few minutes.
    5. Serve with pasta and lots of Parmesan and black pepper.

    I agree that kale has a whole lot of baggage, but enjoying it like this has meant I’ve never had the desire to eat a kale chip!

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      I need to try this.

    • Erin B
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      That is pretty much my kale recipe….. erm, except I use bacon fat and skip the parm

    • Meredith
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      I am totally making this on the weekend. *note to self* put kale on the shopping list!

  11. Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I love this thought experiment. I actually really like kale chips. In that I will make them and eat them off the pan burning my tongue until I get a stomachache. That said, if I could eat potato chips WITH french onion/sour cream dip and have it equal out to kale chips? Potato chips hands down every time. Just potato chips v. kale chips are more of a toss-up though. I do find them a lot easier to make at home though, and I’m a very lazy person who hates to go to the store. so perhaps that’s part of my issue.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      I can totally see the laziness argument here, haha. If I just want salty/crunchy and I have kale on hand but no chips, I would probably end up making them too rather than go out for chips.

  12. Lisa
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and your thought experiment? I recently discovered that potato chips make my tummy feel bad. :( :( :( So now I can only eat a few. And I used to LOVE plain or ruffled chips with french onion dip.

    So I would choose the kale chips.

    But I would never say they are “just like regular chips” or whatever. My hate-on for carob is directly related to my mother putting them in chocolate chip cookies INSTEAD of chocolate chips. Just like chocolate my ass.

    • Conni
      Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I can’t eat potato chips either because they make me feel sick. Fried foods in general make me feel sick. Baked chips or Pringles are OK, though. (I am sad about this, because my local pub makes the best tater tots, and I eat them anyway but I have to make myself stop before I make myself sick. Luckily I can split an order with my spouse.)

      But I really like the kale chips. They’ve got a delightful texture. They’re not as heavy-feeling in my stomach (probably the baked part), though I do feel a bit gassy if I eat too many, which I’m prone to, because like another poster above, I’ll just eat the whole pan in one go. Which can be a LOT of fiber.

      So I’d probably choose the kale chips over potato chips and a pill.

      • Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Oh yeah the gassy thing! That happened to me too. (Because I’m sure everyone wanted to know.)

  13. Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I love kale. It’s delicious, but I also think of it as a highly functional food. Kale bulks out my one-pot potato or rice dishes and makes them more satisfying and filling. That’s mostly how I cook–I make things that are delicious to me, but that make me feel like I have enough fuel to get through the day.

    At the end of last growing season I bought a whole bunch of kale before the market closed for winter, but I did get tired of eating it after awhile, and asked Facebook for suggestions. *Everyone* suggested kale chips, which infuriated me. I was having a hectic, frustrating season at work and struggling with some health issues; if I was going to come home after a long day and stay standing long enough to cook some kale, it had *better* be for dinner (with leftovers for lunch the next day). Kale chips are not dinner! They’re not even good party food; I find that they shatter when you pick them up.

    So that’s why *I* dislike kale chips, even though they’re tasty. Purely personal vendetta, definitely inflamed by the trendy moment they’re enjoying.

  14. Katie
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I love kale chips! Oil and salt make almost anything taste good. But I also just love kale in general. It’s so easy to grow that it makes me feel like a good gardener. Kale and brussels sprouts are my favorite veg, and I just can’t get enough of ‘em sometimes! I like undercooking my kale chips so that they retain a little juiciness and are just crispy on the edges. Potato chips, though occasionally very very tasty, are never juicy. And never green. And almost always leave me with the feeling that I’ve had way too many and, simultaneously, need another couple bags (plus a sweet chaser). I think value judgments can ruin anything. I might even stop eating precious kale if I listened to my internal judge telling me how virtuous I am for it. It’s taken a long time (and a lot of help from professionals, not to mention bloggers like you) for me to learn that the “positive” judgments are just the flip side of the negative and almost as dangerous.

  15. Meredith
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Interesting question! I tried kale as a substitute for spinach a couple of years ago and found I liked it much more – as other people have mentioned, it holds up so much better for sauteeing and using in soups. I haven’t tried kale chips yet and don’t think I’ll go out of my way for them. There’s something about “healthy” substitutes for so-called junk food that sets off my wank-o-meter (that is a totally real device that’s in my head, JSKY.) The way I look at it, veggie chips are still chips – you’re still getting the fat and salt anyway, so you might as well just eat potato chips. I should also mention that I am a lifelong potato chip freak, so that’s where I’m coming from. :)

    But that said, if I was a guest at someone’s house and they gave me kale chips as a snack, I would eat them and think of something nice to say about them because that is the polite thing to do. Who knows, I might end up loving them!

    • rydra_wong
      Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      There’s something about “healthy” substitutes for so-called junk food that sets off my wank-o-meter

      I think it also undermines the idea that the food could actually ever be enjoyable in its own right — it implies that it’s ersatz, something you’ll only enjoy in so far as it resembles another food, which it never quite is. And that everyone would really (secretly, deep down) rather eat X, but it’s bad, whereas fake-X is virtuous.

      Which is a pity, because if you happen to like kale, kale crisps (I’m from the UK! “chips” means something different here!) are really very tasty.

      Olive oil, salt, vinegar, red pepper flakes and/or grated parmesan, bake until wilted/browned/dried into hideous curlicues of despair, omnomnomnom.

      Not much like potato crisps — very different taste (because of, you know, tasting of kale and not potatoes), and in my experience with homemade ones (haven’t tried the commercial ones), they are crispy but without the solid crunch of a potato crisp.

      So, as “potato crisp substitutes”, they fail dismally. But as a way to cook kale — pretty nifty, IMHO.

      • Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        I love the “ersatz” argument and also the history of ersatz foods. That’s a great comparison to make here.

        I think of kale chips as something in their own right, to be enjoyed for their own properties, because they are their own thing.

        But they are not, nor ever will be, potato chips. Trying to make them into ersatz potato chips makes them suffer by comparison, which I think is actually unfair to the poor kale, which is a tasty lovely food in its own right.

        • Siobhan
          Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

          I’m with you – I adore kale chips. I also adore potato chips. My craving for either one will not be satisfied until I get the thing I want dammit.

        • Amy
          Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          This is the problem with calling them chips. They’re not chips (perhaps if they were deep-fat fried?). It’s roasted kale. It’s delicious. I’ve never met a roasted vegetable I didn’t like. My love pre-dates the trend, so it’s angst-neutral for me. But the replacement food, eat-this-not-that crowd does piss me off. Ersatz is the perfect word and it’s a rude thing to apply to one of my winter favorites. Try stirring a handful into french onion dip and eating it with potato chips. Perfect combo.

  16. Janey
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I love your site and this article. I have to say I get the virtuous thing about kale. I really do. I have friends who own tee shirts that say “Eat More Kale” (surprise! eatmorekale.com is a real thing that exists, now we can all sleep at night). I live in a very, um, “heady” town with a large vegan population and an even larger vegetarian population. When I moved here I didn’t know what kale was. Now I eat it at least once a week. My reasons are a little different, though. Kale is a winter vegetable and I can get it locally for cheap (read: steal it from my neighbors’ yards… jk.), which I guess you could consider a “virtuous” motive, but I do like to make the “locavore” effort with what i eat, just because I’ve read about how day labor is treated on big nation-wide-serving-farms and it outrages me. I also like kale better than spinach when it’s sauteed because it keeps some crunch, and I think it’s more filling, but that might just be me imagining things. Kale chips are okay, I like the stuff best sauteed with some olive oil and carmelized garlic, you can also throw in a lil bit of honey and pine nuts to change things up.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s great to make food choices for all those reasons. I consider labour concerns and environmental impact to be, I guess, “virtuous” concerns but in a more literal, rational way than the symbolic “virtuousness” that is often ascribed to food for no specific, concrete reason, other than that the food is supposed to be “good for you” or “the right thing to eat” in some vague way. The distinction between those two types of “virtue” is fascinating to me.

      • Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        People, I am enjoying this conversation so much. Thank you. I needed this today.

        • Posted March 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

          Me too. I have been feeling really burned out on comments since last October. But everyone here is really making my day today.

          • Kirsten
            Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

            Yes, when I saw there were 38 comments, I headed over with a bit of trepidation. But this is nice!

            Someone mentioned kale with spicy sausage… now I am drooling.

  17. Jacquilynne
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    When I eat Kale Chips, I am an unhappy person, because I find them bitter and gross. (Super tasters, ahoy!)

    I mostly eat spinach as my food of virtue. I like spinach, generally speaking, but if I’m eating, it’s almost certainly because I’m trying to be “good”. And that actually makes me not want to eat it when I’m not trying to be good, even though I actually do like it. It’s just super associated with being on a diet in my head, so sometimes I pick up containers of spinach at Loblaws and think “I could make spinach salad!” and then I put them back again, because I know they’ll just end up rotting in my fridge.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Bad foodie who dislikes kale. Bad.

      Just kidding of course. Your spinach history is great. I felt that way about salad in general for a loooooooong time.

    • Rebecca
      Posted March 25, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      My favorite “crap we have a lot of spinach and it’s going to go bad” recipe is to saute the spinach in sesame oil, then toss it with sesame seeds and soy sauce. Somehow we never have any leftovers when I cook it that way…

      • anna
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        I am definitely going to try that.

        • Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

          Let me know when you do, and I’ll be right over.

    • Cathy
      Posted March 31, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      I also find kale way too bitter. I was beginning to think it was just me. I actually prefer spinach and chard because I find them much more mild in flavor. But kale with spicy sausage sounds fantastic.

  18. Bex
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    It would be pretty difficult to eat the macronutrient equivalent of kale chips in potato chips, since potatoes have way more carbs. I know that I would feel different, simply because the macronutrient ratios of the calories I’ve eaten are different and the body processes starches differently than fats (the kale would certainly have way more fat and way fewer carbs than the potato chip for the same number of calories).

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      You’re right, the starch ratio would always be off. Say there was a way to make up for that with the wonderpill. What then?

      (Though I suspect the point you bring up is actually an important consideration to many people, of the carbohydrate-concerned variety, in making their decision to eat kale chips instead of potato chips.)

  19. Jessica
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I want to beat the living snot out of Kale. Kale is the latest “eat this and you will be a fabulous person” food. KALE. Isn’t KALE fabulous? Aren’t *I* FABULOUS? Aren’t I THIN and HEALTHY and FABULOUS? It’s because I eat KALE. YOU should eat KALE. Have you tried KALE yet? KALE will make you SKINNY and FULL and it tastes DELICIOUS.

    Now, maybe it is delicious and maybe it isn’t. And maybe it’s good for you and maybe it isn’t. (And none of this is directed at the author or any of the commenters here.) But it is not going to make you perfect and wonderful and fabulous, and you will not look like a movie star or a personal trainer if you eat it. Sorry.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Hahaha, this is great. Yes, somewhere, somehow, people are picking up on THIS message about kale, and I don’t think it’s an entirely imaginary one.

      • Meredith
        Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        Yes, that whole “superfood” phenomenon annoys the sh*t out of me too. It’s all marketing and media-driven. Some innocent grain, fruit or vegetable that has been existing happily for thousands of years suddenly ends up in the spotlight because some study showed a nutrient in it MAY have some beneficial effect on heart disease/cancer/whatever and then it becomes the thing you HAVE to eat or else!!

        I’m about to telegraph my age, but I first noticed this phenomenon back in the ’80s during the oat bran craze. Anyone else here old enough to remember that? Pretty much overnight there were oat bran cookies, doughnuts, tortilla chips, pop with oat bran extract (no, I am not making that up! I saw it in a health food store) because if you put oat bran in anything, that magically made it good for you!! BTW I was still totally in diet mode then but I could see how silly the whole thing was. And sadly, nothing’s changed.

        I will end by saying that I try very hard not to judge the food in question when that happens, because I know it’s not at fault. Most of the time I will give it a try and if I don’t like it (quinoa!!) I don’t eat it. If I do like it, it goes into rotation with all the other things I like.

        • Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          I remember the oat bran craze, yes.

        • Posted March 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          The whole superfood thing makes me furious, in large part because it frequently has some very bad downstream consequences. Take quinoa for instance, it really only grows well in the Andes (attempts to grow it elsewhere have not been successful). The native people in the Andes have relied on it for centuries as a staple food source. In sweep rich, mostly white, westerners who decide that it’s the new superfood, and start creating an export market for it. The increased demand causes a huge jump in the price in the Andes (because now most of it is being exported). So, the people who have relied on it for centuries are suddenly facing malnutrition because one of their saple foods is now far too expensive for them to afford it.

          The politics and eithics of food are damn complicated. I really wish people would stop and remember that when they get all holier than thou about whatever superfood (or “clean eating” regime) they’ve decided is the new way to save the world.

  20. Preston Pans
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    In The Netherlands, where I’m from, kale is a staple (the word kale actually comes from the Dutch boeren kool, literally farmer’s cabbage).
    We usually eat it in the form of stamppot, a filling winter dish of mashed potatoes and steamed/boiled curly kale all mixed together. For extra yumminess, my family adds cubes of crispy fried bacon and mature Gouda or some other hard cheese, also cubed, which melts into the stamppot. Delicious, and perfect comfort food on a dreary winter’s day.
    If you don’t like kale, you can make stamppot with other vegetables, like andives (lovely in springtime), grated beetroot (beautiful! The whole thing turns magenta!) or bits of winter carrot (not my fave, too sweet, but of historical importance – see the siege of Leiden). But kale is definitely my favourite variety!

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      This is great, thank you. So much history there! And stamppot sounds amazing.

    • Alex
      Posted March 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Oh my goodness! I read the description of stamppot and realised that it was the dish that a very good Dutch friend made for me when I visited her! I’m from Australia and I hadn’t seen her since we met in America a few years’ before, although we missed each other and stayed in contact. We had a day and a night to spend together and in the evening we watched Hugh Grant movies, ate Dutch chocolate and she cooked for me. Reading your description of the dish, whose name I never knew, brought me back to that night, spending a very rare night with someone dear to me.

      The power of food to evoke fond memories!

  21. Ani
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I adore kale chips…but not as kale “chips”. We call it “crispy kale” and eat it alongside roast chicken or steak. Or crunch it all up in mashed potatoes. I just think it’s an easy and rather tasty way to get a vegetable into my dinner. I would probably cry, though, at having to eat kale chips as a snack or anything virtuous. Because it’s covered in oil and crunchy — at dinner it feels deliciously decadent for a veggie, but for a snack? Hmm. Kale is one of the first vegetables I learned to like, but I think that was because it was one of the first fresh, organic veggies I ever had. My co-worker at a coffee shop was over-run with it and would bring it to me in bunches. I actually did learn to like it raw, but…is it magic? No. And spinach is more readily accessible outside of the growing season. Kale in the winter, or the bagged kale from Trader Joe’s is like chewing on shoe leather. One can always eat spinach. So take that, kale.

    God bless you for bringing in Dawn Schafer. I have always been, and will always will be a classic Claudia Kishi. When my boyfriend moved me out of my last house and into his place, he was highly amused by the various Oreo containers that he found (all holding varying amounts of stale-to-non-stale Oreos) in drawers, under the bed, on the bookshelf. Since my boyfriend actually appreciates food, I no longer need to hide snacks around the house, but I kind of miss it — if only for the Claudianess of it all. I frequently skipped the books that centered around Dawn because she made me feel inadequate. I still have about 20 Claudia books!

  22. Chris
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I associate kale with living in the American Pacific Northwest because it was one of the cheaper foods you could get at the farmer’s market and it grows like a weed here. I just got a plot in a community garden and it has a ton of it from a previous gardener.

    I like kale for the same reason I like coffee and cheap red wine: it’s delightfully bitter. It pairs well with garlic and the gratuitous amount of olive oil I use. I was vegan at the time I discovered it and eat it a lot. I realize it’s got a lot of class connotations to it, though honestly I eat it because I like it (and don’t eat acai, etc, if I don’t like it).

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      I like kale for the same reason I like coffee and cheap red wine: it’s delightfully bitter.

      Are you me?

      Though I have to admit, I am also partial to midprice (I define this as ~$10/bottle) dry whites as well. Probably for reasons that are not unsimilar.

    • Erin B
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      I get the American North West thing too. Mostly because of this blog post:
      http://www.nwedible.com/2012/08/tragedy-healthy-eater.html

  23. Abby
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know, but There is definitely something to it because I love a couple of kale dishes and I super love smoothies, but I don’t want to be seen eating either because of this sense that I will be opened up to all of those “clean food” bs conversations. Also, people are so weirdly competitive when they see that someone is eating that stuff. I’d rather be judged for eating hot fudge sundaes for lunch than be lumped in with clean foodies.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Competitive. Good word. What are we competing for?

  24. Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t get kale (thought it was hard to cook) until I came upon Tara Austen Weaver’s site (Tea & Cookies) and was almost instantly smitten with two delicious dino kale recipes: kale with polenta and lemony-garlicky kale salad. (I’ve taken the salad to lots of parties and everybody loves it.) Now I’ve experimented with kale in many different ways, including chips, and adore it. It’s also opened me up to experimenting with other greens like chard. It hasn’t been about virtuosity but rather curiosity and deliciousosity. So I think there are two things going on out there with kale: a genuine interest/rediscovery of it as another great vegie to add to our repertoires, and a hyped-up internet health craze. As a rule I try to distance myself from internet hype about anything.

    p.s. nice site! This is my first time here.

    • Anne
      Posted March 8, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Lemony-garlicky salad sounds good. Would love to hear more about proportions, if not an actual recipe.

    • Rebecca
      Posted March 25, 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      I started buying chard because it was a) cheap and b) pretty colors. I always buy the rainbow over the red or white, too. I’m fairly certain there’s no flavor difference, but why have one color when you can have three?

      Collards are also nice, if you can find them. And kale rabe, if it’s something that shows up in your area (up here in the pacific northwest we seem to get all the kinds of rabe) is delicious sauteed in olive oil with garlic.

  25. Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post, of course. I am not a fan of moral eating. I have said in the past that sloth and gluttony as Calvinistic concepts need to go the way of the chastity belt.

    Feeling morally superior for eating one food and morally blame-worthy for eating another completely undermines the fact that ethics were not around at the time that our brains were developing their ability to support complex, robust and redundant systems of appetite and satiation.

    And no, ultra-processed foods are not addictive in any biological sense despite what you read in mainstream media. Your central nervous system’s omnivore bent will tire of lack of variety whether you hunker down with bags of potato chips or mounds of kale chips.

    Sometimes you feel like (insert non-judgemental food choice here) and sometimes you don’t.

    Therefore I don’t need the magical virtuous pill along with my potato chips. I’ll just eat the potato chips when I want them, or the kale chips when I want them.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Thank you thank you thank you.

    • Preston Pans
      Posted March 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      So much this!!

  26. twings
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoy eating kale, but that’s not the reason I started eating it – I totally started eating it because of its “good for you” aura, because one of the ways that my anxiety about being fat worked at the time was that I had to demonstrate to other people that I ate “healthily.” I’ve since worked very hard – and your blog has helped me – cement in my mind the idea that foods aren’t categorically “healthy” or “unhealthy,” but I do still feel a moral thrill when I eat foods I used to put in that “demonstrably healthy” category.

    But here’s a funny thing: after I started to eat kale because it was “healthy,” and then kept eating it because it was tasty and easy to grow in the garden and didn’t go bad as fast as spinach, I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism. And kale is one of the foods that you’re not supposed to eat (especially raw) if you have a thyroid disorder. So, actually, for my body, kale isn’t a “healthy” food – eating it often can mess up my body chemistry. I actually think of kale in the same way I think a lot of people think of, like, cookies or ice cream – as something that I think is vaguely “bad for me” but that I shrug and eat anyway.

    Where I live there are a lot of kale evangelists, and a lot of people have bumper stickers on their cars that say “Eat More Kale!” (for some reason. IDK why.) Whenever I see those “Eat More Kale” bumper stickers I have to sneer and say, “fuck you,” because the bumper stickers totally presume that all food works in the same way on all bodies, and kale is good for all bodies, which it isn’t.

    Anyway, kale chips are tasty, and I like it in pasta and in stir fries and curries and such (my fave is red curry with coconut milk + garnet yams + kale + tofu, where you cook the yams in the coconut milk and curry stuff for so long that they melt into the sauce).

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      This whole comment is great and fascinating. I also still get a moral thrill from certain foods, even though I personally consider it silly. It is just so deeply ingrained. I am careful to be critical about those feelings when I have them and to analyze where they come from and whether they are helpful to me.

      Your experience with hypothyroidism is a perfect example of not all “healthy” foods being healthy for all people.

      • Emgee
        Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Wow–thanks for this! I haven’t tried kale, now I know I shouldn’t, either. Would never have thought could be a problem… :)

        • Posted March 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

          I’m checking my references just to be sure, but I think that if you’re stabilized on medication that food may not have a big effect on hypothyroidism. There is no “official” therapeutic diet for thyroid disorders (unless you have an iodine deficiency) that I know of. So I don’t want everyone with hypothyroidism assuming that they need to stay away from certain foods – it may not be true for every person if they are on medication and currently euthyroid. Talk to your doctor! They will know!

          But it is true that certain foods can have an effect, especially if you’re not treated or undertreated, or if you eat a LOT of them (especially uncooked?) It is also apparently an open question whether soy can interfere with the absorption of thyroid medication.

          After some searching, I want to point out that I did not find a lot of reputable sources (including PEN, various countries’ Thyroid Association websites, WebMD or Mayo Clinic) talking about goitrogenic foods and their effect on hypo- or hyperthyroidism. There were a lot of raw food sites and other sites I would consider to have more faddish information – or people on unusual diets more prone to nutritional imbalance – talking about it. Take all that with a grain of salt, and let your experience and your body’s own reactions to food be your guide.

          Here’s one helpful little article – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypothyroidism-diet/AN01478

          • twings
            Posted March 6, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

            Thank you for all the info! Yeah, every doctor I ask about this and every website that I look at has a different idea . . . which is why I haven’t actually given up goitrogenic foods or soy. I did used to drink kale smoothies pretty often, and those I’ve stopped eating just because it seems like I might as well cook the kale just in case. shrug. but your advice about listening to my own body is obviously the best. :)

          • Posted March 6, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

            Definitely notice what if anything happens to your thyroid-related symptoms when you eat it, and then go from there. That’s the best anyone can do, I think!

          • Jenny
            Posted March 7, 2013 at 12:16 am | Permalink

            I LOVE Broccoli and Spinach and other things on the Hypothyriodism No-No list.Have to say though, I feel TONS better since I started subbing in green beans instead (although, sometimes I just gotta have the broccoli and spinach or strawberries or peaches or…)

      • Ellybee
        Posted August 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        I get the “virtuous foods” moral thrill, and my current way of dealing with that is, rather than teaching myself not to feel those thrills, expand the space of foods I feel them about — because as you put it, ALL food has nutritional value, and feeding myself is a great thing to do for myself. So I go ahead and enjoy my kale moral thrills, and ALSO my potato-chip moral thrills.

        In fact, just the other day I was looking up flavors that a particular kind of candy I like comes in, and I found some nutrition site that gave the candy a “D- rating,” and I discovered that instead of feeling bad about that, I felt all “Haha, I know better than you, this stuff is FABULOUS, and feeding it to myself is AWESOME.” It felt like a good mental place to be in.

        So, that’s one approach. :-)

    • ksol
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 5:25 am | Permalink

      It wasn’t until after my thyroid blew out that I learned about the whole goitrogenic foods thing. Oops. Sadly, it was a list of the stuff I loved best! I do wonder if the massive amounts of soy I ate in my 20s contributed to my eventual thyroid cancer (I’m fine, thank you). Part of it was that I kept trying to be a groovy, save-the-planet vegetarian, part was because it was the 90s and soy was the superfood of the day, and part of it was that I was dirt-poor and had discovered you could eat cheap, cheap, cheap on homemade bread and homemade soybean burgers.

      That said, I still eat soy because I like it. (Of course, I now have no thyroid it could affect!) I also don’t get too freaked out about whether my past food decisions affected my thyroid. I know I made the best decision I could at the time, and dang it, I LIKED broccoli and soy burgers! All foods have their ups and downs, and if you get too geeked out on eating for your health, it can still be a crapshoot. My thyroid could have blown either way. It’s not as if you can absolutely control your health via diet. We all do the best we can and muddle through.

    • Anne
      Posted March 8, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      Wow. I totally did not know that people with thyroid disorders should not eat raw kale. I’ve had thyroid cancer and a complete thyroidectomy and take synthetic thyroid. I think I need to exlore this issue a bit more. Thanks for the heads up!!!

      • Posted March 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Just be careful about your sources – I looked around and did not find a lot of reputable information on this topic, aside from the usual “balance and variety” messages. It might affect you, but then again it might not.

      • ksol
        Posted March 11, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        This is not a medical opinion (disclaimer!), but as someone with her own total thyroidectomy under her belt, it’s my understanding that you’re fine eating kale if your thyroid’s already gone. Soy and cruciferous vegetables are goitrogenic, so they can affect thyroid tissue. If you have no thyroid tissue — no harm, no foul. At least that’s my theory, based on what I’ve read. Worrying about affecting thyroid tissue that’s no longer there is like worrying about blowing out a knee when you’ve had your leg amputated.

        Some foods, such as soy and fiber (don’t know about kale), can affect thyroid replacement hormone absorption, but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t eat them. As long as your diet doesn’t change drastically, any dietary effect would show up in your TSH test and your thyroid replacement hormone will be adjusted accordingly.

        Even if you still have a thyroid and have thyroid woes, I was told you can still eat goitrogenic foods in moderation. So long story short, don’t panic about kale + thyroid.

  27. JennyRose
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I will give it a try. I eat a fair amount of processed foods and not as much healthy stuff as I should. The food purists in my family are now into it which naturally turned me against it. I don’t know anyone in this group who didn’t start eating it because it is good for you, aka the new superfood. That alone was enough to turn me off. They also advocate eating foods one does not like simply because “they are good for you.” The kale thing seems to me a way to micro-mange healthy eating. Not only is it good to eat fruits and veggies but up the ante with something new.

    Frankly I have associated kale with the same wealthy, white, educated women I know who have been promoting gluten free. I have found the gluten free to be a hidden diet among these people as well. Kale seems to have all the hallmarks of white upper middle class food fads. To me it has an aura of privilege which is probably unfair to many kale eaters.

    It is not a new veggie and will continue to exist and be loved my some even when everyone I know is on to the next big thing. As I said, I will try it. If I like it (which I hope) I will add it to my diet without mentioning to the food purists in my life.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      I suspect it may have (partly…there was an actual issue of access, though I could have overcome it with sufficient will) taken me a long time to try it because of rebellion issues.

      This is one of the things that concerns me about all “superfoods” fads – it actually puts some people, those of us with a history of disordered stuff or dieting, on the defensive and makes them less likely to enjoy new foods for their own sake.

      • BakerGirl
        Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        When did kale become the food of the Wealthy Hipster Crowd when, for centuries, it’s been the cheap, easily growable food of the poor peasantry? I grew up eating kale (and well, a lot of other leafy greens and cabbage like stuff) because it was cheap and my mom really had to stretch the food dollars w/ gardening and thrifty buying. I still love kale, in all of its cooked and raw forms, for the sake of kale as being a yummy food to eat. :)

        I think I’d take kale over potato chips—or a lovely baked potato smothered in creamed kale. :-D

        • Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          Strangely there seem to be a lot of foods that jump categories like kale has, going from “peasant food” to “classy health food.” I don’t know if I will ever truly understand why or how.

  28. Corinne
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    The whole “clean eating” thing infuriates me and reminds me of years spent suffering from orthorexia. Here’s the thing – I have also recently been suffering from a chemical exposure I don’t understand and suspect my apartment might have been near someplace with lots of illegal toxic waste dumping (I lived in a semi-ghetto and environmental racism is a problem). Two doctors have ordered myself and my girlfriend not to re-enter our apartment and we’re very sick – the point – THAT’S what chemical exposure is, not eating food that hasn’t been deemed perfect. A “perfect” diet does not help you if your home is emitting CO, radon or god-knows-what. I have miserable memories of trying the primal diet, hoping it would help our symptoms.
    Anyway, we had to move on the fly, rendering us semi-homeless, living in hotels for a month or so and visiting emergency rooms. She was bizarrely anemic, and I was so hypokalemic I almost died – something common with exposure to toxins. I have to now eat a lot of potassium, which is contained in, guess what? Potato chips. Ketchup. Iceberg lettuce. French fries. Orange juice.These were accessible to me without an apartment. More virtuous food was not. Ketchup alone has an astounding amount of potassium, and eating it makes my brain clear. Add a burger and french fries to it, and it takes care of my girlfriend’s anemia as well. At this particular point in my life, I think purveyors of clean and virtuous food can shove it where the sun don’t shine.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Wow, I am so sorry you went through this, but this story is so important.

      And yes, potato chips are aces for potassium! I hope you both feel better in the very near future.

  29. TropicalChrome
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Wow, so many fellow kale lovers! I first tried kale about 7-8 years ago when we started eating lower carb (to deal with a medical issue, virtue had nothing to do with it), and I just loved it. (Garlic, red pepper, chicken broth, diced sundried tomatoes, and a light topper of feta cheese if you have it, doesn’t need it though.) I’m really sorry kale’s gone all trendy, the price has skyrocketed around here, which is why I’m not eating it as much as I would like right now. I am kind of in the mood for a kale sausage soup.

    The funny thing is: I still haven’t tried kale chips. I keep meaning to make them, but every time I have kale around I have something else I want to do with it. That’s probably why I’d eat the kale chips over the potato chips the first time.

    Chinese broccoli? Oh, please, let it be under the radar for a little while longer because it’s so good and so inexpensive right now….:).

  30. Posted March 6, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I am almost certain that I have never eaten kale! Over here in Australia it is not widely available – I have seen it I think at a local fruit/veg place occasionally but not at the supermarket only the specialist fruit/veg place and only the largest local one. My local health food shop is enormous and has chips made of about 8 different types of veggies but I have never seen kale chips there either.

    But still I have associations very much like what you described, just from reading about it on the internets!! Brains are so weird … “virtue” was definitely my first association and the other one is “good”, in the “good girl!” sense of the word. Something that chalks up those metaphorical brownie points, I guess? And I would definitely get these feelings more from kale than from potato plus pill as you described. How screwed up is that??

    I actually did something very similar to myself before I met you, when I was still eating very disordered-ly, and I had basically convinced myself that I preferred beetroot chips to potato chips. With my 20-20 hindsight now functional, the “liking” involved must have been substantially because I liked to feel virtuous and good and carb-free rather than the actual taste because no, sorry, potato chips taste HEAPS better!

  31. zvi
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    As a black American, my associations with kale are 100% different. Kale is a component of greens, cooked until mushy kale, turnip greens, and mustard greens (with ham or fatback or something piggy and fatty for flavor.) It’s soul food, something you cook for family reunion. And the person who first showed me kale chips was my girlfriend, and I tend to like things from girlfriends. So, to me, it’s not a virtuous potato chip substitute, it’s an alternate preparation for home food.

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! This is another good example of a completely different cultural association with kale than the one I see commonly presented online.

  32. Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Oh Michelle, you’ve done it again! I think you are bang on the money with some people eating kale chips because it makes them feel virtuous, not because of any awesome nutrient properties. The Internet Kale Phenomena has actually put me right off trying them (even though I actually like vegetable chips, one of my favourite things to get at the fab nut/grain store I sometimes go to is a huge bag of mixed vege chips) because of all the sanctimonious posturing around kale.

    Again, as you say, not everyone is like that about kale chips, but there are enough people who ARE to put me right off.

  33. LongHairedWeirdo
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Hm. I wouldn’t eat kale chips by choice, because I like cooked kale – saute some onions in olive oil, throw in your kale, let it soften a bit, add water, and a lot of garlic, cook at a simmer for about an hour (you want all of the visible water gone, if you can – but it’s okay if there’s a bit at the bottom like gravy), and maybe serve with crisped bits of spicy sausage.

    I feel as if kale chips are “they’re not bad, and they’re *healthy*”. But I don’t want “not bad”, I want “ooh, tasty!” and kale cooked the way I described is “ooh, tasty!” to me. If I wanted a healthy snack, I’d get some whole grain corn chips and hummus or black bean dip – that’s also a nice treat for me, but better than potato chips. I’d also make sure that, if I need a meal, I’ve had that meal, so I don’t snack on something suboptimal because I’m so fraggin’ hungry (unless the snack food was all that I could eat – any port in a storm!). But then – if I wanted potato chips, I’d figure out how many potato chips I’d want to eat, and then eat that many. (And if that amount was “an entire six ounce bag” – that’s okay. But I have to taste each chip – mindless eating means I’m being cheated of the pleasure I should get out of eating. And if I realize I’m no longer enjoying the chips, it’s time to put them away. I mean, if I’m not eating for pleasure, and it’s not nutritious, well, why *am* I eating?)

    Of course, this is me. I’m the kind of person who wouldn’t drink decaffeinated tea. If I can’t take caffeine, I’ll go for herbal teas instead. But some people would prefer decaffeinated tea, and if they do, hey, cool, more power to them. They should do what makes them *happy*, and I have no basis for telling them what will or might make ‘em happy. (But I might mention that there are some awful tasty herbal teas out there, I’m willing to offer suggestions – and then, if they never ask, never bring it up again.)

  34. Leslie
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    if you make kale chips, you can save the spines and chop them for use instead of celery – I’ve never made kale chips but I like putting the leafy part into salads and the spines into tuna salad!

  35. Linda
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Doing things for the sake of virtue leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. Or for the sake of fashion for that matter. When these things come up, imagine the grumpy cat face, that’s me.

    But as far as kale goes, I missed, initially, that it is a THING right now. I don’t remember how I was introduced to it, but I took to it right away. There are a lot of vegetables I don’t like or couldn’t care less about. Leafy greens in general are supposed to be so good for you, but please don’t put a salad in front of me, I can think of few things less appealing. But I love kale. There is richness to it that is very satisfying. It is the same for me with broccoli, and with nettles (it is the time of year to pick nettles, and I am so excited!)

    If you put both kale chips and potato chips in front of me, I would absolutely choose the kale chips (homemade, I haven’t had factory-made kale chips.) Someone up above in comments pointed out that roasted vegetables are just good — because roasting does that luscious caramelizing thing. If you offered me raw kale versus potato chips, sure I’d rather have the potato chips. But then again if you offered me raw kale versus raw potato, of course the kale would win.

  36. Jan
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    So you left out the option that I reluctantly admit to, which is that I would TOTALLY feel obliged to take the capsule and forgo the chips.

    And I say this as someone who Has Come A Long Way.

    I think the whole thing with kale (or green smoothies or eating paleo or [insert trend of the week here]) is that it is a visual indication to everyone watching and judging you that you “get it”. It represents so much more — in a sense it says that you are cognizant of and have your act together enough to implement all The Best Knowledge. It’s like driving a hybrid, or composting, or Attachment Parenting. All of which can certainly be done for other reasons, but as an added bonus, you get to look like you have it all together.

    Does that make sense?

    (An interesting note is that the “magic” of these behaviors disappears just as soon as they become easy to do. Once the kale is widely available cheaply at teh wal-mart, I guarantee that its status as proclamation to the world that I Am Fabulous will disappear.)

    • Posted March 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Ooooh, good point about the missing option. I suspect lots of people are in the same boat – the most micronutrients you can get for the fewest calories always seeming to be the “best” option, especially if you have a history of restriction.

      And yes yes yes to the rest of your post – thank you. So we have kale (and other Virtuous Foods ™ ) representing:
      -having your act together
      -getting it

      And you’re right, when kale has other associations attached to it that become predominant (e.g. available cheaply at X store) the fad may wane due to changing status connotations. Super important.

  37. Renee
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Welcome back, Michelle, I’ve missed you!
    As for kale, we love it in soups, but just can’t handle the kale chips.

  38. ellyabillion
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    When I eat kale chips, I’m someone who has a CSA share and who has a crap ton of kale to use up. I’m also someone who has discovered that her 6-year-old will eat nearly any vegetable (kale, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli) as long as it has been roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

    Honestly, I think kale chips are mighty tasty, but if I really wanted potato chips, I’d just eat potato chips.

  39. April
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I have to say, I got started on the kale chips because as a dietetics student (now intern), you can’t AVOID them. Bean brownies was the year before me, in my year it was kale chips. I put off trying them forever because I was so annoyed at how overhyped they were.

    That said, I did finally try them a year later – and I LOVE them. I’m not a salty person and I’m not a fan of chips, but I love kale chips and can eat an entire bunch of kale that way in about 30 seconds. It’s cool that they have all the micronutrients and so on, and I guess indirectly that’s why I tried them since that’s probs what made them so popular with the nutrition student crowd, but I keep them around because of their crunchy goodness!

  40. Audrey
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Potato chips are a tricky food for me – I have a tendency to eat “too many” – aka enough that I feel sick to my stomach.

    Meanwhile, I recently tried kale chips (yes, because I wanted to eat something healthy) and I really like them. But I’m pretty lazy about making them.

    So I’d probably go for the kale chips if they were all made for me (since I can just go to the store for chips), unless I had just had some the previous night or something.

    • Audrey
      Posted March 9, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Oh I forgot one of the secrets to my favorite kale chips – fresh lemon! Hmmm, I might not go for the kale chips if they don’t have lemon.

  41. Jennifer Hansen
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    Here in coastal Alaska, kale is an ornamental as often as not; that’s how I first encountered it, as big poufs of frilly purple and pink leaves growing absurdly next to the irises in the flowerbeds in the town plaza. All cultivars I know of grow really well here, so it’s a common garden vegetable. So to me, fresh kale is a cheap and practical food that happens to be decorative as well.

    Kale chips, OTOH, are fussy food. If I have the munchies, I am by definition craving quick carby energy with a cushion of protein or fat to prevent a crash, so I will want potato chips or buttered popcorn, not kale. Kale is for when I crave dark green vegetables something fierce. Kale brings up thoughts of Italian food because the cheapest way to kill the bitter taste is with lots and lots of garlic, tomato sauce, and/or deep green olive oil. Tomato sauce with the odd few ounces from a package of ground beef or some leftover chicken, plus the last couple of carrots or a half an onion, plus grated cheese if we have any, over boiled spaghetti with some garlicky sauteed kale on the side: that’s a quick cheap dinner.

  42. k-m
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure what kind of chips we are comparing them to – potato chips as in oven cooked chips made of potato, or potato chips in a foil-type packet aka crisps. Kale chips are kind of a combo of both.

    For me, I’ve never understood the feeling against the oven-cooked ones – if you cook them in a bit of vege oil, how is it bad aka unhealthy? It’s potato, which is a vege, cooked in an oil widely promoted for being healthy. Sweet!

    In comparing them to “crisps” – crisps are delicious, but kale chips you make yourself don’t have anything added to them that you don’t add yourself, and you can control the amount of these additions precisely. That way, I’m less likely to get an overdose of salt, or some preservative that makes me feel ill, or whatever it is that makes a lot of people feel a little blik after eating processed foods.

    I really like kale chips though, they are yummy. You can also cook them in a frying pan. You can also only partly chipify them and mix them with other things to make a more interestingly textured salad-thing. You can use up the kale you have sitting around in a fun crispy way rather than in a standard green vegetable way if it’s leafy green vegetable season and you’re sick of it.

    The other super thing about kale chips is that every time you make them, you get to go “how did a leafy green DO that?!” It’s magic cooking, like making pita bread (they puff up!) or simliar things.

  43. Alexie
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Great thought experiment. I’ve never had kale chips! So this is a complete thought experiment. (I do like chips made out of beetroot and sweet potato, though.)

    For me, eating kale chips would feel extremely different to eating potato chips with a kale pill chaser. I would never do the latter, because one of my values around food is that food – although it has major health implications – isn’t actually medicine and I don’t want to treat it as such.

    Although I’m very conscious of eating a healthy diet post a serious illness, I also believe that part of the health benefit of food comes from the way it’s integrated into life. Atomising it and reducing it to pills and supplements, or the latest food fad, is disrespectful to the food itself and to me as a human being with sensory and cultural needs.

    Supplements and pills have their place, but honestly, this reducing diet down to so many grams of carbs, proteins and fats and fads about superfoods really bugs me.

    So I guess my reaction to the kale thought experiment reveals me to be a bit self righteous and elitist about food…

  44. par_parenthese
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Mmm kale.

    Last night I made a sweet potato and kale hash (which, I am such a tool for not putting bacon in it, what was I thinking) and then ate them with a side of fish sticks from a bag and it was delicious. So there.

    Also, I just want to cosign on what everyone else has said above about ersatz food and substitutions and how lame they are, and I want to add a little codicil about those horrible, smug, deceptive Add Half A Cup of Butternut Squash Puree to Your Kid’s Mac and Cheese and SHE WILL NEVER KNOW SHE IS SECRETLY BEING HEALTHY (and will also never have the chance to decide if she enjoys eating butternut squash, sheez) recipe books. They seriously make me hulksmashy and rage-blackouty, those books.

  45. Tony
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I don’t eat potatoes anymore, so Kale chips are the only option. Not because they’re trendy, not for the micronutrients, but because it’s fun to eat salty, crunchy foods with your hands.

  46. Amanda
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/7-foods-nutritionist-would-never-eat?page=8

    Speaking of good vs. evil food, I saw this article lurking on a recipe site and I thought you, a nutrionist, would totally eat some of these! Why not? Apparently grits are “an unholy marriage of carbs and saturated fat.” I just thought they were kinda yum. Whatever!

    As for kale, I can’t get past the idea that it is a garnish and not meant for actual eating.

    • Posted March 7, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Yes, someone sent that to me on Facebook a while ago and I think I would probably eat any of those foods.

    • Nebet
      Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      This is hilarious because when I was younger, my mother (who made a lot of food pronouncements) made a big deal about grits being better for you than, say, hashbrowns — because the grits weren’t fried, of course. o_O

  47. Whitney
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Your blog continues to encourage me to think differently about food – thank you! I am trying to switch from seeing eating as a moral/virtue thing (am I eating “good” or “bad”) to seeing it as a self-care thing that isn’t about other people at all. It has occurred to me that conflating morality and eating has hurt both sides. After all, being good is a big important thing that is about much more than eating “correctly”! Maybe if I spend less time congratulating myself on my food habits I’ll be more available for kindness, volunteering, picking up trash, actual virtuous stuff. Mother Teresa wasn’t admired for her avoidance of junk food!

    And kale, I like it most of the time. More vegetable-y than salad-y, if that makes sense (I have issues with salad). It is also convenient because since I do belong to the yupster crowd that has crowned it, I have no trouble acquiring kale (local organic heritage, of course) or recipes for it!

  48. Posted March 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I like kale cooked like greens, or chopped in salad, as long as there are other things in there too. The kale chips I’ve had were horrible; I figured they were one of those “this tastes so bad that it must be good for me” foods that I used to devour hoping they would magically turn me into a sylph. I never found anything that tasted bad enough, apparently, but the kale chips came close.

    I eat what my body tells me it wants when I can think clearly enough to listen to it. I strive not to strive, where food is concerned .

    Glad someone likes kale chips; you can have my share.

  49. Posted March 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Last year I bought a bag of kale chips from the grocery, there was a “new” display and I thought they looked interesting. I was already introducing kale into my smoothies and I thought why not. They were horrible. Horrible, I tell you!

    I tweeted about the experience and a die-hard kale chip maker said I had to make my own to truly appreciate kale chips. She gave me the basic how-to and within a week I was making my own. For a few days I was addicted to them, couldn’t believe how wonderful they were. After that, I had them at least once a week for a few weeks.

    For me it was a novelty, the fascination wore off quickly, nothing beats a real potato chip. I have not had the kale chips for awhile but it is not to say I will never have them again. I just have to be in the mood to make my own. And as good as they are the oil and salt still does not seem healthy to me. I prefer my kale au natural in a smoothie, salad, or tossed in a soup.

  50. Saara
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    When I think of kale I think of digestive issues, as with all cruciferous veggies. My body just doesn’t like them. I did used to eat lots of them in smoothies or sautéed or in soups. They aren’t any more super then any other veggies. A superfood is a food that nourishes,satisfies you, and you enjoy when eating.

  51. mickey
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Funny, I was just thinking about kale chips the other day when I was nom-ing on the roasted leaves of Brussels sprouts. I haven’t eaten kale in years. When I was growing up, my parents grew kale in their massive garden, and I enjoyed it in salads. Then, when I was in grad school for my Masters, I went to a dinner party with a lovely dish of roasted sweet potatoes and kale… and I had an allergic reaction. I haven’t touched kale since. At this point, some of my allergies have changed, so I don’t know if kale would be an issue any longer… but I also don’t know that I care enough to find out. There are plenty of other veggies out there that I can eat, why bother with one I may not be able to?

    As a chemist, I wonder if roasting the kale (or any other veggie) alters some of the supposedly good-for-us chemicals? I know I don’t usually want to heat my reactions to 400 F, or they end up as black tar… (Note, I still roast lots and lots of veggies, because nom, nom, nom.)

    So, in the scenario above, I guess potato chips for me, though I don’t know if I need the pill chaser.

    • Posted March 7, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      I wondered the same thing about roasting, but I didn’t want to rain on people’s parade, hehe. Not only the cooking, but the chopping can also affect the vitamin content (not to mention how far they’ve traveled and how long you kept them in the fridge, etc. etc. etc.) Roasted veggies taste so good that I don’t even really care, though.

      • Suzanna
        Posted June 3, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

        Wow. How does chopping alter nutrition content?

        Between kale and potato chips, I’d have a 50/50 chance of choosing either, hold the pill.
        But what I would eat almost every day if I could be bothered making them would be kale chips with creamed cashews slathered on them before baking. So, SO yum.
        Thanks Michelle for expanding my ways of thinking about food.

        • Posted June 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          Well, it’s likely not a critical loss, but cutting exposes more of the plant to oxidation. Mostly, you would see vitamin loss if you cut the vegetables and then held onto them for a few days before eating. It’s still better to eat chopped veggies than none at all!

    • Posted April 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      It actually depends upon what nutrient you’re talking about. Some of the vitamins are, indeed, destroyed by heating (although, not nearly as many as you’d think), but cooking veggies and meat frequently makes the minerals much more bioavailable. So, you’ll probably get less Vit C out of your broccoli if you roast it, but more iron.

  52. Hannah Wilder
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    What an interesting post! I love kale, ever since a friend introduced me to it, and turns out I’ve been eating kale chips for a while, without knowing that’s what they were called. And I didn’t realise they were an internet phenomenon either! So really, all around, I’m a little late to the game. Except when it comes to kale. Love kale :)

    I don’t think food is ever just about the nutrients. In fact, there are some excellent studies that show feeding people food with the same nutritional content, but one version cooked in an appealing way, and another version blended, results in the people eating it absorbing more nutrients from the appealingly cooked one. So I already think that our sense of sight, smell, touch and our brain are the first digestive organs of sorts that the food encounters.

    I also think there’s something about the consistency of our values coming across in different ways we approach things. If I took the hypothetical pill, it would fulfil the nutritional requirements, but it wouldn’t give me that feeling of wholesomeness, and taking time out for myself, and enjoying tasty, crunchy leafy things (I really love kale :p). I have a friend who likes washing dishes without gloves, because they see it as a sort of meditation and communing with food receptacles – I kind of feel like this is a similar kind of thing.

    I don’t think this is specific to kale as such. Smelling and eating a soup has a particular kind of feel, but cooking the soup first has the added element of chopping and stirring the ingredients, sensing the smell of it spread through the house, the anticipation until it’s ready. Similarly, I like chopping the kale, I like putting it in my favourite baking tray and rubbing the oil and salt through it with my fingers. Food preparation is important, as are food rituals in general. That particular ritual makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself and my body. That I’m giving myself some time, and some tasty nutrients. Another food that makes me feel the same way is, for example, anything involving lentils :) Nom nom nom.

  53. Vesta
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    What does it mean to eat kale? Well, unless you’re eating it solely because you like the taste of it and it’s exactly what you’re wanting right now, it means – woo, woo! – the witch doctor’s been shaking his big old magic voodoo stick at you again. And there you are, all psyched up with the fear of certain death and social ostracism if you don’t immediately drop all that poisoned and hexed food the evil demons all around you out there constantly lure you to eat, and instead protect yourself with today’s garlic-substitute, guaranteed evil-eye-averting magic mumbo jumbo lucky charm – kale. Let’s face it: most food is the work of the devil. Which means uunless you’ve got the right potions, charms and amulets to ward him off, unless you’re ultra-virtuous, vigilant, self-denying and spiritually superior, unless you only eat kale and Shirataki noodles, you’re going to die of galloping fat disesae – which is a fate worse than death in itself. But glorious kale keeps us safe from all evil: it confers sainthood and gets us into heaven too. Not bad for a humble green leafy vegetable, I think.

    • Posted March 7, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Magical thinking in food! Interesting point.

      I think there are a lot of religious parallels to be made about our beliefs in food and nutrition, and not just to voodoo, but also to more privileged/mainstream religious traditions. (Sin and redemption, sacrifice, eternal life, anyone?)

      I have not yet read this book, but a client of mine loved it – http://www.bulimia.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=1781 – I think it focuses more on weight than food itself, but it probably touches on food morality judgments.

  54. s.h.
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Haha, WELL, when I eat kale chips I am the sort of person wishing I was eating kale in a different form.

    It’s not that kale chips are bad, it’s just … they are probably my least favorite way to eat kale. My favorite way being in soup. My next favorite way being sauteed. My next favorite way … well, I guess eating kale raw is about equal with kale chips really. Raw leaves my mouth feeling raw and wishing that I had lettuce for salad making instead. Kale chips make me feel like if I really wanted to eat kale and eat chips, I should make soup with kale and eat non-kale chips.

    But that’s not really your question.

    I mean, I love kale, and I love trying new foods, and I also read a fair amount of cooking/food blogs as well as environmental blogs, which means that I get exposed to the morally superior foodies more than most. But even when I get inspirations for meals or ingredients from them I really try to push back at the moral superiority aspect of it. For many reasons, but any time I start to feel morally superior about anything I eat, I think about this terrible woman I used to have to deal with at work.

    To give you a sense of what this person was like she would often say things like “I do yoga to work my meridians which is how I stay skinny” or “the reason you have glasses is because you haven’t eaten enough [insert some herbal remedy that she was going on about]. I take it and that’s why I’ll never have to wear glasses.” Ahhhhhh!!!!! I’ve had glasses since elementary school and my parents and sibling all have glasses. It’s not about herbs, lady, it’s about genes.

    So, anyway, I usually would bring lunch into work and I remember one day I was sort of bummed because I hadn’t really prepared anything, so I had to throw together a bunch of stuff that I had on hand and tried to make it into some semblance of a meal. Which ended up with me eating kale salad with blueberries and almonds, and the last dregs of a squash curry soup. And I have never felt so self-conscious as when this woman walked into the office and said “oh, you eat so healthy”. UG, NO. That is NOT why I am eating kale + blueberries + almonds! I eat them because I like the taste and I am eating them in this combination because I am trying to get rid of a bunch of stuff!

    So any time I am tempted to feel morally superior about something I think of how shitty I felt when she tried to get me to agree that I was in her special club of healthy food times. Or how shitty I feel when people (my mom) does the opposite and tries to tell me that my diet is terrible because I put half and half in my tea. So, yes, I do eat and love kale and a bunch of other foods that get tossed around — sometimes as an experiment (agave, coconut oil), sometimes because I really do like it (almond milk — it lasts longer than regular milk, omg, and it tastes great in hot cocoa!!!) — but I work really hard to make my kitchen, my food, and my eating a judgement free zone.

  55. Susan
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Heh, I learned about kale chips from a knitting board that is ANYTHING but virtuous. (We *encourage* drinking and Your Mom jokes.) I tried ‘em, I love ‘em. Then, I love kale. I look like a 230-pound “virtuous” eater, when in reality I’m an overgrown kid who cried when Mom ran out of Brussels sprouts, then tried to guilt Dad out of his. I love fruits and veggies, I follow a pescetarian diet that usually veers sharply toward vegetarian, I’ve been vegan because my body likes it (and may return again), and I just plain don’t digest some “sinful” foods (hah) like meat and gluten.

    I say screw the concepts of virtue and vice. I consider anger a virtue when it’s handled correctly. As for food, that’s personal. If someone wants to eyeball my shopping cart and think I’m a saint (until they get to the chocolate, and the horseradish cheddar, NOM), that’s their problem. I consider myself an overgrown kid who eats her vegetables.

    My girlfriend is somewhat baffled, btw. Then, she’s a supertaster, and most of the veggies I love taste like dirt and earwax to her. I need to introduce her to kohlrabi. Mmm, sweet, sweet kohlrabi. Literally, sweet, sweet kohlrabi. It’s sweet, if you’ve never had it. Perfect for people who think vegetables are gross. Just peel, cut into strips, and serve with Persian cucumbers and baby carrots. It’s good with hummus, and in coleslaw.

    BTW, two of my favorite uses for kale are cooked into pasta sauce, and cooked into scrambled eggs. NOM!

  56. Nadine
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Hmm. Kale Chips. Never tried them, but I would like to see what all the fuss is about I’ve eaten kale in salad, and I’ve tried to cook like one would do collard greens, but they didn’t turn out. I usually buy kale to feed to my pet bunnies. They seem to like it.

  57. Posted March 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t tried kale. Because of all the “clean eating” “paleo” “vegetarian” etc.. craze going on, it’s taken on a whole hippy vibe and I automatically reject it. Not that all hippies are bad people or anything, but the fact that most of them (at least the ones I’ve met and read on the net) make me feel put down for not being like them, I disregard kale as another leaf on the shelf. And my husband would probably get worried if I brought it home too.
    Besides, kale always looked like it had a texture that I really wouldn’t like. I’m picky like that. I bring home red lettuce occasionally, but most of it ends up rotting before I eat it. I can make myself eat one salad and then I’m done for a while, so what am I supposed to do with the rest of that lettuce? I just really dislike leafy greens and I hate it how society makes me feel like such a sinner because of it.
    On top of the leafy green rejection problem I have, I shoved so many vegetables down my throat during my last diet that I can hardly make myself eat them now, and rarely do. Of course I gained all my weight back after I threw off the chains of that diet, but six months later I’m probably in a lot worse health because I hardly eat ANY vegetables, much less kale!

    • Rebecca
      Posted March 25, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      If it’s a texture thing, you might try kale pesto. Actually, lots of greens make a pretty decent pesto- spinach, parsley, the traditional basil.

      It’s pretty simple- take a traditional pesto recipe, swap the basil for whatever leafy green you have around, swap pine nuts for any nut that seems like it goes with your greens (we use walnuts a lot), add olive oil and lemon, blend, and there you go.

      Kale makes a pretty hearty pesto that is excellent on baked potatoes. And in pesto form, it has an entirely different texture that might be more up your alley.

  58. Twistie
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I love kale. Love, love, love it. Then again, I was the kid who requested spinach for her birthday every year as a child… but probably only because I hadn’t yet experienced kale.

    But for some reason, I’ve never tried kale chips. I think it probably has to do with finding ways to use the kale that comes in my CSA box (yes, Michelle, that’s how I get it, you nailed me!) in ways Mr. Twistie is happy to eat. There’s only so much in a box, and it goes into gratins and risottos and yummy soups mixed with things that will mitigate the bitterness (Oh, delicious bitterness!) for Mr. Twistie.

    Given my choice between kale chips and potato chips, well, the first time I would want to try the kale chips because I haven’t eaten them before. After that, it would completely depend on what I was in the mood for… but hold the pill. I hate swallowing pills and they have been known to make me gag in a most unladylike fashion. I don’t need the help in being unladylike, nor do I need the insinuation that if I don’t take a pill, I have no business eating what I damn well please.

    For me, potatoes = yummy and kale = yummy. The only question that needs answering is which yummy thing I’m in the market to enjoy. If I’m in the mood, I might even take a bit of each and eat both, simply because I like them both.

    And can I mention how glad I am that pomegranates and blueberries seem to be starting to wane as super foods? Honestly, I just like to enjoy them because I find them yummy. The damn halo keeps slipping into my eyes.

  59. Linda Strout
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    I also don’t care for kale chips. I may try making them one more time since I think I had to much oil on the batch I tried.

    Oddly enough, I’ve gotten MUCH better about eating veggies in general since I ditched the whole good food/bad food and ‘I should eat X’ attitude. Like several others have reported, I feel better when I have some fruits and veggies.

    I have to chuckle about the ‘gluten – free’ stuff. While I KNOW my body reacts badly to gluten, I discovered I turned out to be anemic because wheat flour has all the vitamins put back in that get removed in processing, including iron.

    Now I am on iron pills, and eating that satanic food, red meat. :)

  60. Posted March 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been wanting to try kale chips because, heck yeah, I wanna be healthy. I tried the wondrous kale in my smoothies, ewww. I suspect I wouldn’t like kale chips and then I’d be stuck with a bunch of kale chips staring me in the face and making me feel guilty. So, bring on the potato chips and kale pill!

  61. Emma James
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been trying to relearn to identify my internal cues for fullness and hunger and craving as part of intuitive eating. Often when I eat I ask myself why I want something – kale chips, for example. I wonder if I eat things because I want to or because I think it’s virtuous to eat something.

    This article has addressed the crux of the problem, and I’ve realized I’m doing it right. I’m obsessed with kale. I love it. It could be poor for my health and I’d still be thrilled to eat it. Not so with potato chips. I like some of them, some of the time, but I’m just not as much of a potato freak as I am a kale freak.

    Given that I’ve struggled with binge eating, restriction, moralizing food, and feelings of deprivation, it’s good to be in a place where I eat kale chips because I like to eat kale in any form, and I don’t eat potato chips because I don’t particularly like them.

    Thank you for making me realize this progress!

  62. Mars
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I have never thought of kale chips as a substitute for potato chips. But I think that is because I call it roasted kale and consider it a substitute for gim (Korean toasted laver), which I fell in love with when I was living in Seoul. Now that I live in the middle of America, the nearest source of gim is over 20 km away. Kale roasted with salt and sesame oil is a decent imitation, but it really has nothing to do with a potato chip!

    Kale used to turn me off for the same reasons you mentioned- it seemed so high and mighty compared to broccoli, cabbage, and all of the other vegetables I loved. Then I moved to a city where greens are 99 cents for massive bunches (well over a pound). Goodbye broccoli! Then I met and married a man who limited his vegetable intake to jalapenos on sandwiches. He has willingly tried any vegetable I cook, but kale has been the clear winner. He wants it all the time. So, I guess I feel practical when I cook kale?

    • G
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Mmm gim! I love those little salty, sesame-oiled sheets. I’m lucky to have Asian grocery stores nearby that carry it, but good to know that kale works in a pinch! (Actually, I might mention that to my mom… Dr Oz (lol) mentioned that gim was a ‘healthy snack’ and sub for, say, potato chips, so when she was here visiting I bought some for her– and she hated it. She tried so hard to choke it down, though. Sad.)

      I like kale chips, though for me they seem to be primarily a salt and oil delivery mechanism (like any chip). I make my own though, and experimenting with flavor combos is fun (garlic salt=yes. curry=not so much). I appreciate that kale chips are easy to make for myself (deepfrying potato chips is an ordeal). (Also, is it strange that I have a rule: Anything I make for myself can be eaten without guilt! Not that I’m big on guilt, but I always feel better eating something I’ve made than eating something from the store.)

      But I like kale in most forms, it’s tasty and I do appreciate its, uh, quickening effect on my digestive tract. A leaf or two in a morning smoothie gets things moving very well.

  63. Rachel
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never tried kale chips, and most likely never will.
    It’s not that I have anything against kale. I’m not sure if I’ve ever tried it, but I’m wonderfully open to trying new things. My problem is… I don’t like to eat a lot of vegetables. Well, more specifically, I don’t like the 5 hours of agony I go through when I try to eat a lot of vegetables and my body screams at me “I can’t digest this, but I’m going to try anyways!”
    See, my digestive system has issues. There are foods that I LOVE that I just can’t eat more than a tiny bit of – like garlic, broccoli, spinach, celery… In learning to listen to my body, I’ve learned that, unless I eat them very much in moderation, and usually only as part of a larger dish, it’s not worth it. I can’t eat a huge salad for lunch, but I can eat a little salad along with a larger meal. I can’t eat a ton of spinach or broccoli, but I can put them in dishes that I enjoy, and they sorta sneak through, mixed in with the rest of the food. So, kale chips will never happen for me. Kale is an option, as an ingredient, though…

    Anyways, this post has made me think. I’ve been there with the “virtuous” feeling regarding certain foods. I still get that way sometimes – when I find myself craving a “good” food, I tend to subconsciously pat myself on the back… And I don’t really like that. I work hard to eat what feels right, and not listen to the diet chatter that goes on around me (part of why I quit Facebook!) Finding myself doing it is tough… But I think, now that I’m aware of it, I can work on quitting. There is no virtue in food. (Especially in food that makes my stomach feel like it’s dying!)

    As for kale chips vs potato chips & chaser pill?
    I’ll pass, thanks. Don’t really care for potato chips, and don’t know that these micronutrients are absolutely essential, as I’m sure many people have lived their entire lives without ‘em. I’ll stick to nuts & popcorn, thanks. :)

  64. Virago
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    I’ve never made kale chips at home, because they seem too fragile and fussy. On the other hand, I roast Brussel sprouts every chance I get, and I love kale, especially Dino/lacinato kale.
    I’ve enjoyed fresh-made kale chips at a friend’s house, with tahini or nutritional yeast, but kale in my house goes into soup or sautés.
    And the most recent kale I ate was the stuff I pulled out of the base of the Edible Arrangement of chocolate dipped strawberries my mom sent me. It was delicious in soup, and I enjoyed it as much as I had the strawberries. I felt pleased with myself and amused and virtuous while making and eating it, but the virtue in question was thrift, not anything about superfoods…

  65. Posted March 8, 2013 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I’ve never eaten kale. If I were to try it, the person I would be is a person who doesn’t like herself and is trying to be something she’s not. I don’t like very many vegetables, and I like even fewer “healthy” ones. I don’t feel good after eating vegetables. I don’t really care about “health” either. The only time I would try to eat something like kale would be in the middle of a deep bout of self-hatred where I’m convinced that I must do something “right” in order to be a Good Person.

    I raise pigs for meat, and I belong to an online discussion group for other small-scale pig farmers. One day in the middle of a discussion about food, one participant said that she didn’t eat vegetables and hadn’t for 40 years. She mostly ate meat with the occasional bread, cheese, and fruit. It completely FLOORED me that one could say that out loud without a ton of disclaimers about how your diet was terrible and you were trying to do better. And I was already a fat acceptance activist at that point. I guess there’s always one more step to take, though, right?

    Bottom line, kale passing my lips would not be the sign of anything good! In fact, it would likely signal a serious incoming depressive episode, because the underlying thoughts required to make me eat kale are NOT good.

  66. tree
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like kale and I’m allergic to potato, so either way it’d feel like a very unpleasant experience for me. That being said, I’d probably take the potato chips and kale chaser because I can handle allergic reactions better than having to eat something that makes me gag.

    • Posted March 8, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

      I gave you a rotten choice! And yet you still surprised me with what you chose. I think this is a great answer.

  67. Posted March 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    I’ve wondered about that as well. If you take a veg and roast it in oil and salt, isn’t it a fried veg? Though they are tasty. I do this with collards, because I have a collard bush, and if I steam them, they get slimy and clumped and I can’t eat them on my potato sandwich. Yes, really, I eat some strange food. Us picky eaters have to learn to eat what we can gag down, even if most people think it’s strange. I would guess that they’re losing most of their nutrition, but not all, by cooking them that way. AFAIK, most of the B vits, also C, don’t stand up to heat, but the minerals should still be there, right?

    • Posted March 8, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      The temperature difference and amount of oil makes it sliiiiightly different than proper deep-frying, but perhaps not all that different from pan-fried? I don’t think they lose most of their nutrition when roasted in oil, but yes, you will get SOME vitamin loss from heat, but probably not as much as if you boiled them in water. Minerals should be fine? I think? Unfortunately the database I use has not entered the brave new world of roasted veggies and mostly only lists boiled ones in comparison to raw, so I don’t have exact numbers. The nerd part of my brain would really like this information now, though.

      • mickey
        Posted March 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        I think that information would be fascinating too.

        Personally, I’m quite suspicious of all the nutrient databases, especially after reading this: http://www.livescience.com/26799-calorie-counts-inaccurate.html?cid=dlvr.it

        I think there are a lot of things that aren’t accounted for in how we cook various foods, how each person processes various foods (due to genetics), and what microbiota each person has and how those effect nutrient uptake. There’s a lot more research to do in this area!

        • Posted March 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

          Yes, calorie (and nutrient) databases are never going to be precise. They are based on a sample of a food (or an average of several samples), and there are so many variables that go into how a particular food is stored and prepared, and how old it is, not to mention how a person’s individual GI tract deals with absorbing the various nutrients, that they are never going to be entirely accurate. They can highlight general trends and differences between foods, but you have to take a lot things into account to try to get as close as possible to the actual food you’re eating. That’s one of the reasons I wouldn’t rely on them for day-to-day decisions in eating, more for moments of geekery. (Though for clinical stuff, like say kidney disease, where knowing the ballpark amount of potassium in something is better than nothing, they can be extremely useful.)

  68. AcceptanceWoman
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    I have tried but haven’t succeeded at making kale chips at home.
    My little girl likes kale, but only when nibbled directly from her school’s garden.
    I did have the most delicious kale chips from Farm Burger on a visit to Atlanta.
    I like eating them but not so much because I think they are virtuous, but because they are tasty and fun. Novel. And since I’ve never succeeded at making them myself, I appreciate that someone else made them for me.
    I recently tried to make my own potato chips in the oven, using a similar amount of oil to what would be used on the stove. Totally not worth the effort.

  69. Posted March 10, 2013 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    What a great blog! I’ve never had kale chips. I imagine if I had kale chips, at that time, I’d be a man who was wishing he was eating potato chips. That’s who I’d be.

  70. Blue
    Posted March 10, 2013 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I’ve never heard of “clean food” before. Does this imply that my jars of Nutella and dulce de leche are “dirty”? I DON’T THINK SO. Kind of glad to be out of the loop, to be honest.

    I’ve vaguely heard of kale chips but never tried them. I like things that are salty and crunchy so I would try them, but now that I’ve moved out of southern CA and into a European city that isn’t quite as creative or varied with their cuisine, I don’t think they’re available here. Thankfully, I have been able to find crispy/fried seaweed which is always WONDERFUL.

  71. Posted March 11, 2013 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    I appreciate this post. I’ve been curious about kale chips for awhile now and have been meaning to try to make them (I’ve made pan-fried garlic-mushroom kale and baked creamed kale before, but that’s as far as my experience goes). I mean, nutritional value aside, I wouldn’t want to have to choose between kale chips and potato chips. They aren’t the same thing. I’ve been vegetarian for the greater part of 10 years, so I can appreciate a good dark leafy green…but I don’t expect it to be a potato chip. Let it be what it is! Focus on the food, what your body is wanting in the moment, and don’t feel guilty if your cravings happen to choose a “junk” food over an item that has been deemed “virtuous”. I highly encourage vegetable consumption (mainly because as a vegetarian I love experimenting with various veggies and prefer to share meals), but food shaming is never the way to go – whether it be toward a “good” or a “bad” food.

    So, y’know, ideally, if you are a person who chooses to eat kale, it should mean that you just fucking enjoy eating kale. Period.

  72. Rose
    Posted March 11, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    It’s funny that Western Medicine will deem a food ‘good’ based on the kind of nutrients found in that good. In Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda a good is judged based not on the number or amount of nutrients it has but on how much of that is easily digested by the body. So out goes brown rice, raw vegetables (especially greens) etc. Cooked mushy food is viewed as a cure-all for everything.

    I like a variety of food but if I want chips then I want potato or plantain chips. If I’m in the mood for greens then I want them nicely sautéed with garlic. Kale chips doesn’t satisfy, neither does low fat or sugar free anything. I want to eat what I want to eat! :)

  73. Posted March 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but I wanted to answer the question without influence.

    When I eat kale chips, I am totally me. That is the me that enjoys exploring new and different foods, and experimenting with new cooking techniques. Also possibly excited that I’ve done so, because I’ve had a chronic fatigue condition for some time so I’ve not been able to indulge this hobby.

    Kale chips are yummy. Thinner than potato, and I like that fragile crispness. I also like beetroot, parsnip and sweet potato chips. And home cooked potato chips are a million times better than the packets – I use olive oil, fancy salt and any herbs or spices that take my fancy.

    So basically it makes me happy by tickling my gourmet & home cook pleasures. But I don’t really care much for the health aspect. I do have a bit of “I’m eating my veggies” goodness, but to me there’s nothing special about kale over any other veg.

  74. Posted March 12, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Read the thread now, and I just want to add the thing about superfoods: if you like them, it’s good times when the fad is just dying down. Massive supply and reduced demand makes cheap nomz. I can’t wait for the cheap mangosteens…

  75. Alice
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never tried kale chips, but for me, it sounds like the sort of thing that is supposed to be “like this unhealthy food, only healthy!!”. I can’t really eat food like that because even if they’re great, I feel like I’m doing it for diety reasons, which makes my brain worry about having an eating disorder relaps and panic a little.

  76. Emily
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t really looked at the comments, but: when I eat kale chips (or kale) I feel like I am someone who likes kale (because I do…also I like Swiss chard, turnip greens, mustard greens, and collards…). I am not big on potato chips, but the few times I tried kale chips I really liked them. So I don’t know. I think eating potato chips + pill would be rather disappointing compared to the kale chips.

  77. Simon Seemour
    Posted March 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    SMDH. It’s too bad if research consensus about fruits/veggies/cancer complicates your “food is food, so go ahead and have ice cream for dinner” “clinical practice.”

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vegetables-full-story/

    • Posted March 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Hi – could you have possibly phrased this in a less rude way? I think maybe you could have. I’ve approved your comment because it provides a useful teachable moment for everyone reading who has similar questions.

      I want to start by saying that your link does not disagree with what I say in the post – that eating fruits and vegetables may help to reduce your risk of cancer. (Incidentally, when I said “sketchy website” I was not referring to the Harvard School of Public Health – I was referring to a website that literally said kale can cure your cancer. I’m sure you can see the difference.)

      The link you provide goes into more detail about the studies that have been done to establish a possible link between fruit and veggie eating and cancer risk, and it also points out possible limitations of those studies – but the Dietary Reference Intakes still do not give any official recommendations for specific phytochemicals because they have determined there is not enough evidence to make solid recommendations. As I also said in the post.

      However, the HSPH nutrition dept. is known to have certain differences of opinion with Dietitians of Canada and the American Dietetic Association. The bottom line is, they all recommend that people eat enough fruits and vegetables. So do I! (Though we may differ on how it is best to go about getting people to actually DO that.)

      You have severely misapprehended what I do and what I’ve written about if what you’ve taken away from reading my blog is “food is food so go ahead and have ice cream for dinner.” Yes, all foods have something to contribute to the diet, and yes, some people might choose to eat ice cream for dinner because there are reasons for choosing foods aside from the specific amount of cancer risk reduction those foods may or may not provide – which I know must be a shocking and faith-shattering revelation to a rationalist of your caliber. But, no, ice cream and vegetables are not nutritionally equivalent, and I never claimed they were – they play different roles in the diet, which is as it should be. After all, variety is the spice of…oh Jesus I’m boring myself.

      The diet as a whole is more important than any single food choice when it comes to good nutritional health. The way in which different foods are equal is on a moral level, meaning that choosing to eat one over the other cannot make you a better or worse person. But this concept requires thinking about food in more than just biochemical terms, so I’ll understand if you have trouble keeping up there, Lavoisier. Even on a biological level, some people have health conditions that make eating “healthy” foods like certain fruits and vegetables problematic – people with potassium restrictions due to kidney disease, people with certain GI diseases, and sometimes even people with thyroid problems as mentioned in this very comment thread.

      Lastly, I do not have a “clinical practice,” since I don’t treat people for diseases, but nice try. What I do is more like primary/secondary prevention. I teach people eating competence, which includes basic, healthy eating skills. We even talk about fruits and vegetables.

      • Emgee
        Posted March 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        Go Michelle! I haven’t told you lately how much I adore you.

        • Posted March 13, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

          You’re sweet. I just really enjoy being drive-by schooled in science.

      • Word_Wrestler
        Posted March 13, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        An eloquent and comprehensive smackdown. Love it.

        Also, I would take the kale pill, and then eat the potato chips. But I’d probably eat the chips in private. (Issues, I have them.) :P

      • Linda Strout
        Posted March 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        *HIGH FIVE*

        I knew a man who was required to eat more fat (he was HIV positive and wasn’t getting enough) so there is someone who might very well eat ice cream for dinner.

        • Elizabeth Andersen
          Posted March 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          I ate ice cream for dinner once. I had blisters on the roof of my mouth (Ever think your food is cool enough to eat and accidentally take a big bite of molten lava? Yeah, that except with actual blisters!) and all I could manage to eat was ice cream. So, maybe there are times and places for all food choices? Just maybe?

          • Posted March 14, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

            omg that’s awful. I once ate ice cream for dinner (and breakfast…and lunch…) because I came down with some horrific unidentified winter virus that 1) sealed my eyes shut with goo, 2) gave me tonsilitis and removed my voice, and 3) covered the whole inside of my mouth with sores. I couldn’t speak for 4 days which was torture because I talk too much. But my parents bought me Blizzards to eat for all my meals since it was the only thing I could ingest.

            So…just maybe people get to make their own food choices for very good reasons! Yes!

          • Elizabeth Andersen
            Posted March 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

            Oh no! I’m glad you came out of it alright! That sounds like a nasty, torturous virus.

      • MamaCheshire
        Posted March 23, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        because there are reasons for choosing foods aside from the specific amount of cancer risk reduction those foods may or may not provide

        THIS. Like “it won’t give me a migraine right now in the middle of a workday/class day” – a frequent rationale for strange food combinations I end up eating.

  78. Posted March 14, 2013 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    No matter what the hell healthy food trends come along, when I eat kale, I am a Southerner eating Southern food. Kale is terribly traditional in my family. With bacon, and I usually add garlic.

  79. yami
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    i must admit i don’t think i’ve ever tried kale but i’d be willing to try it. it sounds as if it could taste good depending on how it’s prepared. if i find it around here i’ll have to try some because it sounds like it could be good. i must admit with the way it’s constantly being hyped as a superfood kinda turns me off because i really dislike people saying oh your super healthy just for eating one thing and not another. add in a pretty long history of disordered eating that is still being struggled with though figuring some of the reasons behind it out and that’s not necessarily a great thing. as to the whole eat kale chips or potato chips with a pill chaser? first i’d have to give the kale chips a try to see if i like them but otherwise potato chips in private with the chaser since i often dislike people seeing what i eat especially if i’m not in a good mood.

  80. Eva
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Now I am thinking about why I love kale.

    I love kale primarily because it tastes really good to me, I like the rough texture and the deep flavor. The color makes me excited too.

    I like it because it is versatile and I can make it into a raw salad with vinegar, or cook it in a lasagna, or make it into chips, or put it on a sandwich.

    I will also admit here that I may also like kale because the part of me that harbors disordered food thinking tells me that it is a pure food, and allowable in the same way that lettuce is–except better for me than lettuce because of all those micronutrients. Yes, I think there is something to that.

    But don’t diss the other stuff because kale is good in its own right too.

  81. Thalia
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I eat kale because it’s yummy — the fact that it comes with a little halo hovering above it is just a bonus. Seriously, kale is a very tasty green, right up there with turnip greens, if you cook it properly. Raw I find it kind of horrible — too tough.

    I see the kale chip recipes all the time and they just sound … weird. How is a leaf going to make a satisfying chip? Isn’t it going to scorch or crumple or be tough? There’s not starch to crisp it up like a nice potato chip!

    • Posted March 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      It is kind of amazing how crispy they get. They shrink a fair bit in the oven, but what is left is very crispy and fragile and kind of melts in your mouth.

      • inge
        Posted March 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        Reminds me, I had the most amazing zucchini chips on a Greek antipasti (whatever the Greeks call it…) plate once. The amount of fat made me recoil a little — they were covered with flour and spices, and then fried in olive oil — so I never tried them at home, but, very yummy.

        • KellyK
          Posted March 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          Ooh, that sounds awesome. I am a huge fan of breaded, fried zucchini. I randomly bought zucchini this week because it was on sale and sounded good, so I’m going to see how it is on pizza, just for the heck of it.

          • Muse of Ire
            Posted March 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

            Zucchini on pizza is common in my neck of the woods. I like it a lot.

  82. inge
    Posted March 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    When I eat kale, I (being German) am very traditional. It’s a solid, warming winter food that wants to be eaten in good company. I add buckwheat and salted pork the way it Has Always Been, and have friends over to share. It’s also a Big Thing to cook that should have a wood fired stove and a large kitchen with a tiled floor. Unfortunatly, those I do not have.

    But eating it now would be like having strawberries in September. Plain weird and lacking respect for the seasons. *g*

  83. octopod
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I’d never tried kale chips before last year, despite being a devotee of the Brassica genus in all its forms. They’re tasty but a bit on the fragile side. My main point of contact with them, tbh, is in getting annoyed at their ubiquity on the Internet when what I was searching for was a vaguely-remembered Korean treat, KELP chips, which, nom. Highly recommended (provided you like kelp). Naturally-occurring MSG for the win.

    I tried deep-frying kale, fwiw — doesn’t work out super well, I wouldn’t suggest it. The leaves are all kinky and hold the oil in and then it’s just kind of icky without the light texture of good deep-fried food.

    Also, why are collards still cheap and country when kale is expensive and hip, FFS?

    • littlem
      Posted March 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      “Also, why are collards still cheap and country when kale is expensive and hip, FFS?”

      You know why.

      Don’t tell them, though. “First they came for the kale …” and then we will be paying 8 billion dollars a pound for collards too.

  84. Muse of Ire
    Posted March 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I’ve tried kale twice. Once I got kale chips, not because they were good for me, but because they were the oh-so-super-trendy side dish at the oh-so-super-trendy rotisserie chicken place that opened down the street from me. I didn’t care for them, as they were tough and not crispy. Next I put some fresh kale in a vaguely Portuguese white bean sausage soup. I didn’t like that either — tough and fibrous. So basically, I’m done with kale. I find that spinach meets all my leafy green needs nicely.

  85. K.J.
    Posted March 21, 2013 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    I eat it because I love kale – probably one of my foods I happen to be personally addicted to and have eaten all my life.

    Kale in my culture is usually chopped and sautéed with a lot of onion and garlic – they taste great that way – and are part of our national dish.

    I often put onion, garlic and some salt in oil, and then allow it to combine for a few hours before using it for kale chips. I can’t eat potato – and sadly, yuca or plantain chips are hard to find here so if I feel like chips kale is kind of the only option. Lucky I like it so much.

  86. littlem
    Posted March 21, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I like them a lot. Even more with jalapeños and cheese on them.
    It takes too much time to make them, though, and they are expensive to buy.

  87. Posted March 25, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Love the BSC/Dawn Schafer reference!

  88. Posted March 25, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I’m 100% myself when I eat kale, because I love it’s chewy, salty sweetness when sauteed; its crisp, melt-in-your-mouth texture when baked into chips. Eating junk food with a micronutrient pill wouldn’t feel nearly as good as savoring kale’s mellow flavor palette; all the better that kale happens to come “prepackaged” with an assortment of health-promoting goodies. (But then I’ve come to really, really love veggies. Most of them anyway… ;-) )

    Also, I featured your lovely insights on eating emotionally–and mindfully (from your post “Lesson four – Emotional Eating”) at the end of my blog post on the same subject this morning. Thanks for the solid advice and thought-provoking approach!

  89. Betsy
    Posted March 26, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I eat kale chips because I like kale chips. Though not as a substitute for potato chips–just on their own for their own sake. Incidentally, the one time I substituted them for popcorn (before I gave up counting those damn points with Weight Watchers…ugh), I found out they are not so good for you if you eat an entire grocery-sized bundle of kale that has been chip-ified, even if they are “free” point values. The, er, cleansing properties definitely paid for that…

  90. Posted March 26, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a new example of how eating too much of anything, even health halo foods, is bad for you: drinking 100+ teabags’ worth of tea a day is not good for you.

    And here’s an older example; I may have already shared this one. Eating 2-3 lbs of raw bok choy every day is also not good for you.

    • Posted March 28, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Balance, variety, moderation. In all things. It’s not a very exciting message, but it’s sound.

  91. Eva
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Hey now. There are no “appropriate” or “inappropriate” ways to eat vegetables. It’s the same vegetable no matter how you prepare it. They are not “meant” to be eaten any particular way, it’s OK no matter how you enjoy them.

    I like eating kale in every way. If I eat it one day in a lasagna because my family likes lasagna, one day in a raw salad with vinegar because it’s a hot summer day, and one day in a smoothie because I am having a hard time eating and it’s the only thing I can handle, does that mean that some of my ways are not “real”? IMO, it’s all kale, and it’s all valid. Stop judging.

    • Susan
      Posted March 27, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Eva! I, too, go for kale smoothies periodically. Now and then, my stomach refuses to tolerate solid food, so I have to live on fruit, veggie, and yogurt smoothies for a few days (occasionally with a few nuts or well-cooked legumes thrown in for variety). If it were an invalid, forbidden method of eating, I’d end up in the hospital on a nasogastric tube after four or five days, and I do NOT want to deal with that shit. (I also don’t want to deal with drinking Ensure because it’s gross, it has no fiber, and I don’t tolerate it well. Anyway, it makes me feel disabled. Just because I technically am doesn’t mean I want to feel like it.)

      • Eva
        Posted March 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        I think Ensure tastes like chalk, I would prefer kale and pineapple any day. But anyways, it doesn’t matter why you like your kale a certain way, all ways of eating kale are OK by me:)

    • Kirsten
      Posted March 28, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      This looks like it’s a reply to closetpuritan, but I think it was in response to a comment from “dorothy” that looks like it has been deleted.

      Well said, Eva!

      • Eva
        Posted March 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it was in reply to “dorothy” who wrote some things it’s probably best I didn’t quote. But thank you:)

        • Posted March 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, yeah, I had a couple of questionable comments. I left one up and then later thought better of it.

    • Posted March 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

  92. helsey
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    I have a friend who’s been pushing kale on me – I’ve resisted so far, just because! I love this blog. I declared my new 3 part diet to my family several years ago; it’s similar to yours: I eat what I want, whenever I want, and nobody yells at me. The 3rd part – and nobody yells at me – has nothing to do with nutrition per se, but it’s the tastiest part!

  93. Steph
    Posted April 1, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Hmm, I do romanticize green veggies, but only if I grew them myself or bought then at the fruit stand or farmer’s market or paid too much at whole foods for them to be labeled “Local!” “Organic!” I have a thing about eating the ground I walk on, as if the food here is inherently better than the food there. I don’t mind having this quirk; I figure it’s good for the environment. But logical? Oh no.

    (There’s also the idea that kale chips are healthier because they’re baked, not fried!)

    I hate kale in all forms I have yet tried (it has RUFFLES! I hate parsley too) but I LOVE chard chips. I would never pay money for chard just to make them, but when I have some extra chard, I do. They taste green but in a good way and are a combination of crunchy and melt-in-your-mouth. I don’t eat them as a replacement for potato chips though. I only eat potato chips occasionally (I do not like potatoes!) but they are themselves. There is no replacement.

    If potato chips were not mass produced, and kale chips were, would the internets be making potato chips in the oven and cheering their healthiness?

  94. Posted April 4, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Love this post! I recently was making dinner for my family and my Mum came into the kitchen for a chat. She said she had a craving for lime doritoes (very specific!) but we didn’t have any in the house. When she went away I placed some kale leaves on a baking tray with a small amount of virgin olive oil, Himalayan salt and a liberal sprinkling of lime juice and paprika. After 15 minutes baking they were perfect and she was thrilled to find her lime doritoes craving had been banished :) I have a lot of love for kale!

  95. Posted April 4, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    This awesome post, this awesome community, and Zvi’s awesome comment upthread inspired me to research and write this article about how and why kale got so chic.
    http://www.thesmartset.com/article/article04031301.aspx

    Thanks y’all.

  96. Nanasha
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I remember when I first tried kale and basically went, “eeeeew.”

    I don’t like kale, I thought.

    But then, my husband made this stuff on St. Patrick’s day this year called “colcannon” (it has kale in it, but it’s kind of like mashed potatoes). I LOVED IT.

    My husband (who is a cooking genius), has changed my mind on many things that I “just didn’t like” and a lot of it was tied to the fact that it wasn’t prepared in a way that I enjoyed. A lot of food just had to be done in a certain way for me to truly, fully enjoy it.

    So I finally gave myself permission to just NOT EAT things I didn’t enjoy.

    I think that is where a lot of food guilt comes from- this weird, Pilgrim-esque idea that if food is delicious, it must be sinful.

    So now, instead, I simply decide to eat what I want based on whether or not I like it. And I try not to write off any food because there is always the chance that there’s some way it can be tasty for me.

  97. Eileen
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Very funny! I stumbled across this post while looking up the nutritional benefits of Kale Chips. Here’s my ultimate defense of Kale chips which deflates all critiques.

    I have a son with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). He’s an extremely picky eater. Deceptively Delicious (the cookbook by Seinfeld’s wife about how to hide veggies in food) did not work. He could taste the hint of veggie in his food or the change in texture rendering it unacceptable. If there is a fleck of green anything in his food, he will detect it and refuse to eat. Up to a couple of months ago I had convinced him to eat apples, plain lettuce, tomato sauce, broccoli, very fresh peas and, oddly enough, spinach. Period. Not even carrots would cross his lips. And even those things took some convincing for him to eat. Then came Kale chips. At his school they do monthly “tastings” of veggies and fruits. like one month there were all varieties of apples at lunchtime and the kids could try them all and decide which one they liked best. When it was his class’ turn to host the tasting, they did Kale chips. He fell in love with Kale Chips. I can now make them and put a bowl down in front of him and he gobbles them up faster than popcorn. He asks for them and when we are in the grocery store, he sees Kale and begs me to get it. He has never felt this way about any other vegetable ever in his life. This is a miracle. I mean, truly, a miracle. Hail the Kale!

    • Posted April 23, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      That is pretty miraculous, I have to admit. Maybe kale is a superfood, after all :)

      If you’re interested in reading some good stuff about kids and feeding, you might like my friend Katja’s blog, http://thefeedingdoctor.com/blog/ – she may have even written something about that Deceptively Delicious book.

      • Eileen
        Posted April 23, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        Thanks! It looks like a very interesting blog. I am very impressed with your sense of humor mixed with actual research and science as well. I’m glad I stumbled upon this today.=)

    • Susan
      Posted April 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Wow! My girlfriend and I both have Asperger’s, and she’s a supertaster to boot. I’ve been trying to figure out new ways to prepare veggies for her, especially for when we decide to have kids and she’s pregnant. (I’m spayed. No incubating for me. :( ) I’ll have to make some kale chips when I visit her this summer and see how she likes them! Thank you so much for posting this! :D

      • Posted April 23, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        Congrats on your incoming bundle of joy :)

        • Susan
          Posted April 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          Thank you! :D Though it’ll be a few years. She’s got to get through med school first.

          • Posted April 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

            Whoops, I see I read that wrong. Longest gestation evarrrr!

  98. Mich
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    This thread is really busy, so I’ll ask here. (May be triggering.) My dad said he heard on the news that you shouldn’t eat complex carbs or meat after 2pm, and that you should limit your food after that to simple carbs. This sounds like some pro-ana stuff, so I want to know if I am right?

    He also believes in Kevin Trudeau’s nonsense about not eating after 6pm. Our suppers are always btw 7:30-8pm.

    On another note, my dad is taking lipitor which I found out acts like a laxative in some people. Metformin also does this (he wasn’t taking it before the lipitor). My parents also joined this group in Calgary called Pure North S’ynergy Foundation, where they test your blood for things not normally tested, and give you loads of pills for free. I looked at the ingredients list for these pills and it reads like homeopathy/megadoses of vitamins/untested ingredients hogwash to me. Plus they take probiotics in excessively large doses in a pill by itself, and in the “multi-vitamin”. I looked up about probiotics today since when I eat too much of the lactose free yogurt by Iögo in the probio line, I get the runs like I used to before I found l-f products, and I found out that probiotics are essentially laxatives since they “help you digest” and are usually prescribed for constipation. Neither of my parents has ever had constipation in years, but I figure that now my dad is taking daily the equivalent of 20 laxatives a day through these “vitamins” and prescrip. drugs, which is the average intake of bulimics?!?! Nice!!! I think my mom’s getting around 12 laxative equivalents a day with metformin and these pills. It’s a sad situation, but they’re totally into this company which also believes in detoxing, and that you need to take these pills which are “pharmaceutical grade” (aren’t all pills like that?), and they’re free, so that makes it better???? Woohoo!!!!

    This to me is simply orthorexia: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/orthorexia-nervosa but my parents have obsessed over dieting for decades and it never got them anywhere. Certainly never did anything for me. :*(

    So, for me, I realized a few weeks ago that I shouldn’t eat too much of the probio yogurt, plus I sent them an email today asking if they’d consider making some l-f products in the Greko line; I discovered that I can eat the Astro brand greek yogurt in small portions (like nowhere near their “serving size”).

    • Posted April 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Short answer: yes, you are right. None of that diet advice is accurate. Kevin Trudeau is a scam artist sociopath and no one should listen to him about anything, ever – http://quackwatch.org/search/webglimpse.cgi?ID=1&query=trudeau

      I don’t know anything specifically about the group your parents joined but it sounds extremely sketchy and they would do well to talk to their family doctor about stuff like that.

      • Mich
        Posted April 29, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        I found the company that makes the pills: http://bioclinicnaturals.com

        It’s more like those lines where they sell them in doctors’ offices. My chiropractor sells pills too, so I stopped going there.

        • Mich
          Posted August 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

          OK, I found one site that offers some criticism of this program, on a site called Scam Radar. It’s a question with comments, but the comments are from all over, and don’t offer any solid evidence. But you can see the confusion over just what the program offers. http://www.scamradar.com/reports/3215/pure-north-senergy-foundation.html

          The founder of the program is a co-owner of the Calgary Flames: http://flames.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=40745

          Hokum goes way up. If anyone else can find some stuff about this group/program, that would be helpful. I’ve searched using “pure north s’nergy”, “pure north synergy”, “pure north criticism,” “pure north s’nergy criticism”. But on a search engine it only looks for word matches, not subject matches. I’m keep looking anyway.

          Here’s a listing of who sells the pills: http://bioclinicnaturals.com/ca/en/healthpros/where Most of them are part of the realm of pseudo-science like naturopaths and chiropractors.

      • KellyK
        Posted May 1, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Wait, probiotics are laxatives? I have digestive issues with metformin, and my doctor recommended probiotics to help with that, but I can see them actually making it *worse* if they have a laxative effect. I think I should read up on this more.

        Sometimes trying to manage and mitigate and juggle food stuff and med side effects just makes me want to jump out a window, preferably into the proverbial vat of Twinkies (which would cushion the fall nicely).

        • Elizabeth Andersen
          Posted May 1, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          My understanding was that probiotics are essentially gut flora and help to regulate your bowels. So, in a constipated person, they would help make elimination easier and vise versa on people with irritable bowels. Maybe I’m mistaken? However, I would imagine that too much gut flora would be bad, too. So, maybe if you have an issue where your bacterial count is lower (like from medication) then taking probiotics could be a good thing. I was thinking of starting on them, because I had been told that prolonged use of birth control (which I need to treat endometriosis) can reduce my body’s flora and contribute to yeast infections. *shrug* I probably need to do more research.

          • Mich
            Posted May 1, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

            I was just wondering what the science was about probiotics, and that list that Michelle gave was interesting.

            Thanks for everyone’s comments.

        • Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          No, they are not really laxatives. They supposedly can help both with constipation and with diarrhea, but their function in the human body depends, apparently, on the specific strain of bacteria it is, and of course the dose taken.

          Here’s an interesting table about probiotics sold in Canada and the evidence of their efficacy – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2659138/table/t1-cjg22169/

          • Mich
            Posted May 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

            Very strange. I looked up about probiotics and laxatives and found that they are usually given in instances of constipation. Basically I think they are those buzz foods/pills like goji juice, or pomegranate juice, supposedly holding magical powers.

            It’s not something I’d ever willingly buy, as you’re just lining someone else’s pockets with cash. Nutriceuticals are the most profitable pills right now. :(

            On another note, I sent an email to Iogo, and they got back to me about my request for lactose free Greko line yogurt, and they said they are looking into expanding their product line, so maybe I’m not the only one to ask them this, so it might be coming soon.

          • Posted May 2, 2013 at 6:13 am | Permalink

            Good to know! Thank you. Incidentally, it looks like I’m taking the wrong probiotics based on which ones are actually shown to treat diarrhea. Though I’m not taking ones indicated for constipation, at least, so at worst they’re ineffectual, rather than making it worse.

        • Sandra Mort
          Posted June 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

          Not necessarily. I’m currently battling some post-antibiotic diarrhea and probiotics are recommended for regaining normal stool. Not that I have money for anything other than yoghurt, which probably won’t make much of a difference after 2 rounds of IV and 3 rounds of oral abx. But I’ll try.

  99. Julia
    Posted May 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Kale chips from a bag I wasn’t that keen on.

    I made them myself and ate them all in a single evening – I wasn’t blown away by them but they were crispy and tasty and it was amazingly easy to eat what had been a full bunch of kale after they were baked. I still like kale in other ways better, though.

    I get where the hate for “clean eating” and much-touted “good” foods comes from… but don’t blame the foods. It’s not kale’s fault that it has a good reputation right now. It’s still the same old kale it’s always been.

    Foods have no moral value.

    Being able to say that and mean it feels like the biggest victory over all the hype. :)

    • Posted May 5, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      That is a huge victory. Also I’d like to reassure you that I definitely wouldn’t blame the whole “clean eating” trend on kale itself. Poor kale. I know a lot of people have a hard time separating their resentment about cultural pressure from the foods themselves. It’s a stage I think most of us go through in figuring out how to eat. It’s an amazing feeling to get through it and feel good about ALL food.

  100. Posted May 4, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I saw this article linked on twitter this morning. It’s a response to an article by a BBC journalist claiming that he ate a healthy and varied diet for less than 1£/day. The original article is so disingenuous it’s not even funny (buying a package of red peppers for 3£, eating part of one, and claiming to have spent 10p), and the response is fantastic.

    Given that you’ve written a lot about the class implications of diet advice, and the tendency of many in the middle and upper classes to wring their hands about how the poor simply aren’t trying hard enough to eat “right” (while ignoring a lot of the major systemic barriers in place that make that incredibly difficult), thought you (and the other commenters) might find it interesting.

  101. Twistie
    Posted May 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Well, I finally did try kale chips. Someone brought them to a party I attended. I think I’ll personally stick to other preparations. I didn’t much like the texture of them. Still, I’m glad I tried them out. I feel better when I try things out before assuming I won’t like them.

    But when I want crunchy, yeah, potato chips and pretzels have no competition from kale for me. I’d just rather have it steamed or in a salad.

  102. Melanie
    Posted May 5, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I grew up in a meat, potato, veggie family. The only beans we ate we’re baked or string beans. I never had black beans, garbanzo, etc. until grad school. Never had kale until then, either, but have always had a love of trying new veggies. ALL these new foods have been awesome, along with yuca, plantains, kohlrabi, beet greens and beets not from a can, etc.

    It wasn’t the micronutrients that got me. Just that I’d not tried it yet. I wouldn’t take the pill and eat the potato chips. I’d take kale chips over potato any day (totally addicted, btw) but won’t pass up chips once in a while either (although today I did).

    We need to starts making people realize that good foods CAN taste yummy! It is a common misconception that healthy = gross or difficult.

    I prefer to get my nutrients from whole foods and a balanced diet rather than a pill. It is more fun eating a variety of yummy snacks all day than taking a pill.

  103. Posted May 11, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your ever insightful posts. And I love reading all the discussions that result. Looking forward to another one!

  104. Elodie
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    The kind of person who eats a lot of kale — well, in our society, they tend to be the kind of person who can afford to eat lots of things that are not calorically dense. I’m not one of them, though I’m certainly not as poor as many people, either. I’ll eat stuff like kale sometimes, purely for the nutritional value and because if I don’t eat some leafy green vegetables occasionally I feel gross, but I prefer spinach. Plus spinach makes for great salads, which can be calorically dense with the right stuff in them. I dunno about kale salad, I think it would be too bitter.

    If someone made that pill you describe, I’d definitely grab it, and eat it with my sweet potato chips, which I love. Sweet potatoes, and chips made from them, are also more filling than normal potatoes. Not that I never eat normal potato chips — but my idea of virtuous food these days is “inexpensive, filling, tasty, and with as many nutrients as possible.” The nutrient part tends to take a back seat to everything else for necessity’s sake.

    Historically, food that is considered virtuous has been the expensive stuff, and food that is considered non-virtuous has been the inexpensive stuff that the peasants/lower classes/workers/etc. eat. These days, I think beans are the only food that is considered virtuous and that is actually inexpensive, when one takes into account the calorie-to-price ratio. The most-coveted beans, however, are of course only carried in specialty stores.

    • Posted May 14, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Thank you, yes. Often the calories-per-dollar calculus is left entirely out of these discussions, because people who have plenty of money for food don’t have to stop and think about how to maximize energy intake for price (for those who do, the priority of getting fed enough food automatically makes several fruits and vegetables non-priority foods, since they are relatively less calorie dense.)

  105. Lori S.
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I am always kind of bewildered when some food thing I’ve liked for ages (kale,not kale chips, in this case) becomes trendy, for lack of a better word. Kale is nice! It’s not as bitter as some of the other dark leafy greens, it’s sturdy, it doesn’t cook down to nothing, it’s easy to grow, it’s easy to find in the market, it’s around in the wintertime. It has been my go-to green forever.

    That said, I find kale chips weird. My kids love them, probably in part because they have fewer preconceived notions about food. But even though they’re perfectly delicious, they have that whiff of “I’m trying to be a Health Food!” going on and I hate that. I want to be the gal who eats a potato chip when she wants a potato chip. I haven’t made space in my food landscape yet for wanting kale chips as themselves.

  106. Erin
    Posted May 19, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I generally despise leafy greens, but I am a kale enthusiast, and have been for a few years now. It started when I realized that I could shove it into smoothies and not have to taste it. I started doing that, and then moved onto kale chips, which I also found I loved- much more than I ever liked potato chips, actually. Their light crispiness and peppery flavor were addictive. It never occurred to me that kale was a food that I never saw in stores growing up, that it was a fairly recent vegetable trend. To me, there were “trendy” foods, like all-raw snack bars and ice cream made of alpaca milk, and then there were vegetables. Vegetables are, to me, inherently un-hip. However, having just spent an extended amount of time in Manhattan, I’ve realized just how much privilege can be implied by a vegetable.

    Kale isn’t “in” in Manhattan anymore. Now it’s mesclun greens, edible flowers, obscure varieties of sprouts, wild mushrooms. They may promise nutrition, but that’s not what they taste like. They taste like it feels to sit at the cool kid table in junior high. Like you know something other people don’t.

    These varieties of vegetables, unlike fancy snack bars, are not human inventions: they’re things that have existed for years and years, but that have just now become available in the first world, to the people who are privileged enough to access and afford them. And while I may not be thinking it at the time, when I eat these foods, I’m reaping the benefits of my privilege.

    Kale, unlike more “hip” plants, is affordable, so I drink a kale smoothie once a day. I don’t give a damn whether or not it actually makes me healthier. It improves my self-esteem. I truly feel that guzzling a liter of green sludge every morning makes me smarter, richer, and prettier, even if only I can see it.

    So to answer your question: when I eat kale, I’m a smug little bastard.

    • Posted May 20, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      I love this comment. And I lol’d. Thank you.

  107. maizy
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    also there are two things that annoy the SHIT OUT OF ME

    the phrase clean eating
    an the word panties

    hahaha.

    Both drive me up the wall!

    • Posted May 22, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      I agree with you on both of these things.

    • Sandra Mort
      Posted June 25, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      What’s wrong with panties?

      • Posted July 3, 2013 at 1:56 am | Permalink

        I can’t speak for Michelle, but to me it’s a gratingly twee & feminine American diminutive. I wear undies, which is a not-at-all twee & ungendered Australian diminutive. Totally different :)

  108. Linda Strout
    Posted May 24, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Michelle,

    Wanted to give you a personal Thank You. After reading your blog I think I’ve finally stopped that little voice in my head that said “You shouldn’t eat this and you should eat that.” It’s a lot easier to choose what to eat and more importantly, enjoy it.

    I wish I could get rid of the trolls that make your job difficult and irritating, but I can at least remind you of the good things you do.

    Thank you again,

    Linda

    • Posted May 25, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Thank you, that is very sweet, and also very good news to me. I wish the criticisms didn’t get to me as much, so I’m working on it, but I’m not quite yet ready to leap back into posting stuff regularly. That’s why I hang out so much in comments :)

      • Mich
        Posted May 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        I also want to thank you. My personal growth has been continuing.

        I had a question though: would keeping kosher be considered a disorder? I ask since there is the restriction aspect with no pigs, no shellfish, no milk and meat together.

        • Susan
          Posted May 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          I’m going to say no, since keeping kashrut (or halal, or maintaining vegetarianism as a Hindu or Buddhist, or whatever other religious restrictions one might follow) is a cultural matter rather than a medical or psych issue. I’m not an expert, but it doesn’t make sense to ascribe the same motivations to anorexia nervosa and the 613 mitzvot.

        • Posted May 27, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          No, I would not say it is disordered at all. Not that it can’t coincide with disorder, but I definitely wouldn’t classify it that way on its own, and I very much doubt any expert in eating disorders would either. I think of it as a decision of “instrumental eating,” which resides at the top of the hierarchy of food needs. It’s not the mere fact of restriction that determines whether something is disordered – it depends on the reasons for the restriction, as well as the impact it has on your health and functioning. People can keep kosher (or eat gluten free, or vegan, for that matter, or whatever their particular restriction is) for perfectly healthy reasons, and still eat and live very well.

          • Mich
            Posted May 28, 2013 at 1:48 am | Permalink

            Thank you Susan and Michelle for putting my mind at ease.

  109. Posted May 27, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I was reading yesterday’s New York Times, and came across this article on how we’re breeding all of the nutrition out of our food. I was driving myself insane reading through it. The class-cluelessnes of it (hardly a new thing for the NYT), and the just plain bad science was infuriating. She goes on about how early agriculture tended to favour less bitter varietals of plants, and that lead to fewer phytochemicals. She neglects to mention that it was an adaptive advantage to dislike bitter things, since the poisonous chemicals plants produce also tend to be bitter. The pearl clutching about “OMG they irradiated corn kernels!” also annoyed me. That’s how early geneticists worked. They caused random mutations in seeds (or single-celled organisms), looked for a particular physical characteristic (aka phenotype), and laboriously traced the mutation back to some specific piece of DNA in order to figure out where the gene that affected that trait was.

    The whole thing just smacked of someone trying to sell some new diet (I’m sorry, “lifestyle change”) by telling you that food is either medicine or poison. I read through the whole thing trying to mentally conjure your well-informed, funny, humane and sympathetic response to it.

    • Linda Strout
      Posted May 27, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I can understand your irritation. I am one of those folks who is sensitive to bitter things and I know full well it originated to save my ancestors from poison.

      I really wish people could understand science and use critical thinking more.

      Also, I wish people would stop putting arugula and raddicchio in my salads.

      • Posted August 6, 2013 at 3:10 am | Permalink

        Oh man, I love raddicchio. Pass it my way plskthx!

        • Linda Strout
          Posted August 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          Note to self: Mail all raddicchio to Cath.

          • Posted August 11, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

            Awesome. Do you like bananas? You can have mine.

          • Linda Strout
            Posted August 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

            Woot! I love bananas!

    • Mich
      Posted May 27, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      “Breeding”? Eugenics anyone?

  110. Lauren
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for being a real person. :) You’re hilarious and refreshing.

  111. Posted June 4, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    To those, like myself, who find kale terribly bitter, I’ve posted a good recipe on my blog a friend of mine gave me that helps reduce the bitterness. http://chronicinthekitchen.com/2013/05/23/cheesy-kale-and-leek-casserole/

    • Posted August 11, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

      I made something very similar the other day, though it had more variety of greens, plus some (pre-cooked) quinoa. And also instead of making white sauce, just stir in a cup of cottage cheese. A neat trick, that – it’s much easier, and since I have a chronic illness, that matters to me.

      But TBH if kale tasted gross to me I just wouldn’t eat it. I enjoy the food fad phenomenon a bit, because I get to try new things and add them to my repertoire. Quinoa: yes. Acai: no.

      • Posted August 14, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        I vote yes to quinoa too. Although I’ve only cooked it a few times. It’s delicious.

  112. Zentient
    Posted June 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Doesn’t seem to be any more virtuous than all this “gluten free” frenzy. I grew up with kale. From a gardener’s view, kale is quite wonderful. It produces continual crops from spring until frost, just harvest the outer leaves. Some of the varieties are beautiful, dwarf scotch blue kale for one. Requires relatively little care, and a small patch feeds a family. Kale tastes great with vinegar and salt, try it with a good balsamic. There’s nothing virtuous about it, just happens to be a nice easy to fix green vegetable. I have not tried kale chips, but I will now. Thanks.

    • Shoshie
      Posted June 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      I LOVE growing kale. Because even if everything else in my garden dies, the kale will live on. My favorite variety is Red Russian kale, which is sweet and tender, and doesn’t have the super curly leaves, so it’s really easy to wash (CLEAN EATING!).

      My favorite way of eating kale is sauteed with lots of oil, garlic, salt, and pepper or marinated overnight with a strongly acidic dressing (approximately 1:1:1 oil, vinegar, lemon juice). It gets really tender and delicious. Mmmm…especially if you get your hands on some kale blossoms from a bolting plant. So good. I generally also marinate some mushrooms and toss them together with pine nuts. Easiest and best salad ever.

  113. Chelsea
    Posted June 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Maybe this has already been said (I didn’t read all the comments), but eating is a very performative activity. When we eat, even if we are alone, we eat in ways that are informed by a lot of different social and cultural factors. For example, I eat with a spoon and not with chopsticks, and even when I’m alone, I eat off of a table or other surface. I suspect that when we eat kale, part of what makes us feel good is a sense of belonging to a larger group of people who are “eating well,” even if those people are just people on the internet. Those who promote kale tend to be conscious of their nutrition and often of their body type, so eating kale is a signal to ourselves and to others that we, too, are conscious of our nutrition and our body type. To me, this is similar to the case of overweight women who order “healthy” food in public so as to appear to be “doing something” about their appearance (Zdrowski, 1996: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277539596000866).

    • Posted June 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      YES THANK YOU…not many people have touched on this aspect, but I am totally in agreement. Eating is often a way of signalling our social identity to others, whether we realize we’re doing that or not. I suspect many of us are in denial about this.

  114. Mich
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Flooding in BC and Alberta is taking its toll on the land right now. So I wish all people in the Kootenays, Banff, Canmore, Calgary and area, Lethbridge, and anyone else safety as they endure mandatory evacuations, and homes floating away. This coming 1 day after declaring that fat people are diseased and need to be wiped out. I think their priorities are misplaced.

    God bless!!

    • Posted June 21, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Holy moly, that’s awful.

      • Mich
        Posted June 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        So I lost power yesterday at 4:30am, and power just got back at 11:15am today. I couldn’t get my car out of the garage since I didn’t know how to manually do that, but I got it out now with friends’ help. A neighbour explained how to light a bbq, so I bought a new kettle (non-electric) and was able to have coffee, tea, and oatmeal (instant). I also bought some of those 3-hr fire logs. Got very cold during the night. Gas and water was still on, so bathroom was ok.

        The district below me was evacuated since it’s right on the Bow River, but I was not in danger, being on a hill. Now I’m doing some laundry by hand, due to ban on outdoor water use, and limited indoor use (eg. no washing machines, no dishwashers). At least now I can cook again, but I have to throw out my milk, and sandwich meat.

        I’m watching the Global TV coverage (they have a helicopter) and CBC news online. Go to: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2013/06/20/live-alberta-flooding.html and http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2013/06/22/calgary-flooding-saturday.html for info and live video coverage.

        • Mich
          Posted June 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          Forgot to mention I live in Calgary.

  115. Sandra Mort
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    I never had kale chips. I saw the brouhaha online and thought “what a bunch of self rightous crap!” and moved on with my life. Until one day I was at my sister’s house and she took some out of the oven and I took a socially obligary “no thank you” serving, as she says.

    The two of us inhaled the pan full. Then i went to the store and bought kale and made kale chips every day for a week. The fixation passed when the sale on kale did, thank goodness, but I’m growing a whole row of it this summer and plan to make kale chips again. Not out of any idea that they’re Good For You, but just because they’re DELICIOUS. I’m almost hoping my kids don’t like them so I get them all. :)

  116. Rex
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I actually really like kale for its kaleyness. It’s got a unique flavor, it holds up really well in soups, and I find that I like the texture of kale chips (they’re sort of fun on the tongue – the leafy part sort of disintegrates away and leaves the branchy parts intact that you have to chew). And, I don’t know, I find that the more I eat any food, the more I like it – I realized that when I was a kid and I had to drink copious amounts of cranberry juice to deal with constant UTIs. It’s a poor replacement for potato because, you know, kale does not equal potato. But it’s sort of like how veggie burgers and portobello caps are good in their own right and worth appreciating, but you can’t expect them to taste like beef or you’ll just end up disappointed. Kale’s worth appreciating for its own sake.

  117. Laura Harwood
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m one of those people who is struggling hard to like kale (and brocoli, and collard and cauliflower…i like potatoes though…with lots of butter and mint) and really feeling the pressure.

    Am I the only one? its so bitter. I crave sweet things right now, with a soft creamy mouth feel. (the co-op ‘truly irresistable’ toffee yogurt with fudge pieces to be precise…oh..)Kale is not cutting the damn mustard. I want to be virtuous, I want to be like my skinny mates, who shout ”YUM!!” over a basket of fresh Kale…I keep telling my self they are pretending, to be all food-hip, and it makes them retch too. But there is something manic and gleeful in their eyes that tells me they are speaking the truth…or they think they are… how can I make myself like it too??

    • Posted July 29, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      You are not the only one! It is bitter. Some people like and tolerate bitter flavours – others do not. You may just be more sensitive to bitter flavours, which is a thing that has both drawback and benefits. It is a totally individual thing. You can’t “make” yourself like it, nor should you have to – though you can experiment with it if you are interested enough. Usually though, the more pressure, the more it backfires. You have my permission to dislike kale all you want. There are many other foods in the world.

    • Erin
      Posted July 29, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      I hated kale for ages until I found the right way to eat it. Sauteed with a lot of oil or butter (healthy? who cares), roasted in chips, or drunk in a smoothie. You may find all of these gross, and that’s fine. Kale just became hip a few years ago, and no one ever died from a kale deficiency before then. You can get the same nutrients in other, more delicious ways.

      Also, that yogurt you described sounds like complete heaven. If my local grocer carried that, I think it’s all I’d eat.

      • Posted July 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Agreed, I enjoy kale most sauteed in oil (with garlic and onions and mushrooms, unfff.)

    • Posted July 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      First off, you do not have to like kale. Or broccoli. Or collard. Or cauliflower. Second, liking any of those things is no more or less virtuous than is liking potatoes or caramel or ice cream. You get to like what you like, and unless you are, like, kicking puppies and stealing their food (which I doubt is happening), there is no morality around food preferences.

      However, if you are genuinely interested in experimenting with kale, I have found:

      1) Red kale tastes sweeter to me than does green kale or dinosaur kale. (But I’m fairly sensitive to sweetness and easily find foods *too* sweet, so I’m not sure how well that distinction translates.)

      2) I tend to enjoy the bitterness of kale when it is paired with a sweeter dish. For example, I really enjoy it as a side to a fish (salmon especially) with a brown sugar or maple glaze on it.

      I’m not sure you can or should make yourself like kale. However, some pressure-free experimentation may help you discover whether you like kale in specific contexts.

    • Linda Strout
      Posted July 30, 2013 at 12:49 am | Permalink

      You may always find these things too bitter. Some people are genetically programmed that way.

      http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/traits/ptc/

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324392804578362833147151480.html

      On the upside you are a SUPERTASTER! Please order your cape immediately.

      On the downside, some foods just won’t taste that pleasant. Some people have found they can grow their own and fiddle with the soil pH enough to make the foods tasty.

      I will leave you with this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRgEkek-sb8

      • Posted July 30, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        I have a client right now who I am 99% sure is a supertaster, and it really is like a super-power, in my opinion. She is finely attuned to her flavours, even if it’s hard to find words for all of them sometimes!

        • Linda Strout
          Posted July 30, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          But does she have a cape?

          • Posted July 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

            You know, she probably does. If she doesn’t, I’ll send her one.

  118. Laura Harwood
    Posted July 30, 2013 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    Thanks for all your replies. You guys are a breath of fresh air! Where the HELL have you all been hiding??
    I’ll admit the the Kale/brocoli/collard thing has been getting to me.
    It seems all of my friends are those types of people who find even that really bitter black chocolate ‘too sweet, bleh’ (give me the common cheap brown one, and lots of it…sigh)
    and their manic eye rolling over their latest organic veggies is driving me nuts.

    Im one of those people who grimly fight their way thru main course with the shinning thought of pudding as a reward. Hell, i’d forgo the bloody main course if if I didn’t think of dire warnings of diabetes and such hanging over my head.

    Ive only just discovered Michelle and her liberated thinking and its kind of opened my eyes. Ive always been a kind of plumpish but healthy gal, but my mom and sister are super skinny health freaks….it gets to a girl, y’know.

    • Emgee
      Posted July 30, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Welcome aboard! I feel your pain. My mom has also always been super skinny, and I was not, so she put me on a diet at about 9 or 10, and thereafter. Course, now I AM fat. No sister, however. You like what you like. My first step in making peace with food was promising myself never to make myself eat celery or raw carrots (“diet food” to me). It DOES get to a girl. And it’s hard work not to let it. But don’t give up!

      • Saffie
        Posted July 31, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        I always think it’s funny when people talk about not liking raw carrots… because I’m ultra picky (to the point all my friends make fun of me) and it’s one of my favorite foods – one of the things that I have to actively limit because I will make myself sick on them. :-/ I never really considered it “diet food” so that’s probably why I don’t dislike them.

        • Linda Strout
          Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

          The funnest and most interesting things about this blog is all the different approaches to food. :)

    • Linda Strout
      Posted July 30, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Once I started working on eating what I liked, I started to enjoy EVERYTHING! Even vegetables (not the bitter ones, unless they are made to my finicky standards) but I got a lot more interested in trying out stuff.

      Right now, my digestion is being difficult, and suspect I’ll have to talk to my doctor about it, but at least I’m not being hampered someone else’s ‘rules’ and can tinker with food in my own way.

      And yes, I have gained some weight as a result. The exercise part has not fallen into place, I think because of the previously mentioned wonkiness.

      Take care!

  119. Mich
    Posted July 30, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    We were at Stupid… er.. Superstore last night and I found some new lactose free items: strawberry Iogo yogurt, and PC brand sour cream. I had the sour cream with chips last night. Tastes diff. than the greek yogurt I’ve been using. And I’m not a big potato fan either. At least they’re expanding the market.

    Also, kudos to Lactantia brand milk for getting LF homo milk, half&half cream and whipping cream available.

  120. Andrea
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I just want to take a moment to say that I really love your blog and the manner in which it’s written. Although I know I am a healthy fat person, I feel the onslaught from people who would like to tell me otherwise every single day.

    This kale article reminds me of the way that modern women, and especially “indie” women, have come to use “nutrition talk” as a substitute for the old-school “diet talk” that our mothers must have done. It’s a liberated way to judge each other by judging what we eat.

    Just the other day, I had lunch with three friends who were each on a different low-carb/elimination/gluten-free/clean nutrient diet. One of them ordered a chocolate brownie and wouldn’t shut up about the way the gluten would affect her skin. If you’re going to eat it, just shut up and enjoy it, I say!!!

    • Posted September 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, that is very sweet. I also think this is a really good observation – that we use nutrition talk as a way to re-engage in diet talk. It’s diet talk for the 21st century. I have to agree with you! It does get complicated, however, because some people really do have special dietary needs (like celiac disease, non-celiac gluten intolerance, or even IBS for which elimination diets of the FODMAPs variety have become more popular) but many, many people who don’t have those needs take on those special diets almost as a hobby. (Or a way to signal status…or a way to claim cultural capital…etc.)

      • Andrea
        Posted September 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        I happen to know that these particular friends do not have health-related dietary concerns, but I take your point. :)

        I came to the conclusion recently, which was solidified by reading this blog, that I need to avoid eating meals with people who can’t sit down and enjoy food without discussing the calorie content. So thanks for that and for your reply.

  121. Gently Feral
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Who am I when I eat kale chips? Living in a small, tie-dyed, organic-farmers’-market-hosting town as I do, I might be a friend of the person who grew the kale.

    I like kale chips: they’re fatty and salty and crisp, and yet they still retain some of the sweet green deliciousness of, you know, kale.

    I grow my own kale — it’s sweetest in the wintertime when the frost has kissed it — but I’ve never been ambitious enough to grow it and then bake it into chips.

    There’s a health-food lady around here who touts something called “massaged kale salad.” You pour on salt and oil, and crunch and squeeze the kale in your fingers until it cowers in the bowl loses half its original volume. Then you go on making your salad with vinegar or lemon juice and whatever vegetable-trinkets you want to drop in. That’s not bad, but I’d rather stir-fry it after I’ve squozen it into submission.

    Um, potato chips and a phyto-nutrient pill? No. Because KALE. Potato chips and kale salad, yeah.

    I’m the kind of person who tends to forget to take pills, anyhow.

  122. Anne in Colo
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I can happily say that I started eating kale before it was cool. Mark Bittman turned me on to it before Mark Bittman was a virtuous foodie — he was still in his practical foodie mode. Kale was not the only ingredient I bought for the first time for this recipe, I also bought salt pork.

    I think one reason for the current kale fad is simply: people are tired of spinach. If you learn about kale then you have two dark green leafy vegetables. Chard is also nice. And after that, well, they’re bitter. You really want to have a nice bowl of savory soup to hide them in.

    I think another reason is that seaweed chips hit the Anglo market. Kale chips are a substitute you can make at home. I’ve stuck with seaweed chips so far… but they’re dirt cheap at my local Asian market and kale is a little spendy in comparison.

  123. jj
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I’ll be totally blunt here: Kale chips are AWESOME!

    But also, they are not potato chips. What’s yummy about kale chips is not the same thing that’s yummy about potato chips. The crispiness of the kale chips kind of bursts in your mouth without chewing in a way that potato chips don’t. But also, potato chips you can crunch between your teeth which you can’t really do with kale chips. Both good. Different. If I wanted kale chips I would not take potato chips with a pill. But if I wanted potato chips, I wouldn’t eat kale chips.

  124. Shannon
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I am brand new to finding this site. So far I agree with what I’ve seen. Now on to Kale.

    1. I choose Kale: Is is really so surprising that one might actually like them just for how they taste? I actually like the taste. I’ve also had fried collards which amount to a similar item. Yummy on both counts. I’ve not take the time to “make my own” yet but probably will eventually. I haven’t enjoyed a potato chip for some time now. Most are too salty, too hard, or have too many foofoo flavors.

    2. I choose Kale: If if one is diabetic or pre-diabetic and trying to follow a low GI diet the potato chips are probably off the list of possibilities not for the calories but for the starch content and associated GI rating. This is actually where I got off the potato chips. My husband’s family has a strong history of diabetes so we reading up on it and decided to follow a low GI diet for a while. PS hubs lost tons of weight, I lost nearly nothing.

    3. Choose whichever one your want: One more thought to throw into the pile – nutritionally speaking baked kale chips have a diminished value because they are baked (you know, dead enzymes and vitamins and such) and not raw so you really could just offer the potato chips vs kale chips and not worry about the magic pill chaser. Yes, I went there! NOW if the kale chips were dehydrated, not baked and still “alive” the question goes back to square one.

    Of all reasons above – I personally would go with number 1. I just like them better. I’m thinking of cooking up a batch in the slow cooker tomorrow with bacon grease and tasso ham as a matter of fact. :)

4 Trackbacks

  • [...] about this second figure is the curve for female babies. Are those babies really named after kale chips, or is this a variant spelling of the more familiar Kaylee? There is, of course, no way to know [...]

  • By What I’m Reading | GLORIFY on March 10, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    [...] Who are you when you eat kale chips? asks The Fat Nutritionist. It might sound like a strange question, but when we’re talking about fad foods things get a little strange! [...]

  • [...] seemed natural, and I never thought twice about it until I browsed a discussion at the Fat Nutritionist’s blog in which she expressed mixed feelings about making and eating kale chips with a client. Eating kale [...]

  • By Kale, and moralizing | Chewing Thoughtfully on April 10, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    [...] have egg on my face, because a few weeks ago Michelle of The Fat Nutritionist wrote a fantastic post about how we feel, psychologically, when we eat “good” foods – with kale chips [...]

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