Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mushroom Barley Soup and Beet Salad

The heat in my apartment has not been working for the past few days, and I have been freezing! The heat came back on the day before yesterday, but I was still feeling the chill, so I made a big pot of mushroom barley soup. I had never made this soup before, but nothing says warmth to me like a rich, deep, mushroomy soup with barley and root vegetables in it.

The recipe was based on Mark Bittman's mushroom and barley stew from the wonderful, amazing cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian - my all-time favorite cookbook! My version includes celery, potatoes, carrots, garlic, local turnips, reconstituted dried porcinis (incredibly flavorful), baby portabellos, pearled barley, thyme, vegetable stock, and fresh parsley. It was hearty and satisfying. I will definitely make this soup again this winter.

Aaron and I enjoyed this soup with a salad of local lettuce, local roasted beets, sliced mushrooms, and an improvised dressing made with some leftover vegan cheese sauce from the vegan mac and cheese I made the night before, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, and lime juice.

I really enjoy meals like this. I love root vegetables, and I know that beets, turnips, and potatoes are seen as sort of humble and unsexy, but with a little love and attention, they can shine. Their flavors pair perfectly with the earthy richness of mushrooms, and nothing beats the combination of a warm stew with a cool, crunchy fall salad. Yum.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Reviews Day: Harrison Street Coffee Shop

Richmond, Virginia has a number of excellent restaurants where vegetarians can eat happily, and it even has a few that are totally vegetarian. One of those restaurants is Harrison Street Coffee Shop, at 402 North Harrison Street near VCU.

Harrison Street has been serving up tasty vegetarian food for years now. They specialize in sandwiches, and have a selection of salads and homemade dressings to go along with them. They also feature a special of the day (usually a sandwich, but not always), a side of the day, and a soup of the day, all featured on their chalkboard menu. As the name implies, they also have wonderful coffee and tea. Vegan desserts abound as well - things like vegan peanut butter cups and avocado fudge. Mornings, they serve breakfast, and weekends, they do brunch.

For me, it's all about the sandwiches, though. Such sandwiches! It's incredible the amount of flavor a vegan sandwich from Harrison Street has! The barbecue tofu sandwich has tofu that is toothsome and delicious (not soft, like tofu sometimes can be) and spicy, with vegan coleslaw soaking into the bread. The tempeh artichoke  sandwich has a delicious lemon-tahini dressing on it. They have creative sandwiches like the "full throttle chipotle zeppelin" which has smoky, spicy tempeh, avocado, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and their spicy chipotle sauce. The food is always fresh and the atmosphere is very cozy and laid back. People stay for hours drinking coffee, reading a book, typing away on their computer, or talking.

When I visited last week, I tried two specials of the day - a vegan fried "fish" sandwich and a side of the the vegan mac and cheese. The sandwich and the mac and cheese came out hot and fresh. The fried "fish" was actually crispy, bread-crumb-crusted tempeh. The texture was great. The roll was toasted and spread with a tartar-type sauce. The veggies were fresh and flavorful. The mac and cheese was very convincing as vegan mac and cheese goes. I think it probably had nutritional yeast in it, giving it a cheesy flavor. Aaron took a picture of my meal with his iPhone. I would have many more photos of meals eaten at Harrison Street Coffee Shop, but each time I eat there, I wind up devouring half the meal before I even think to snap a photo. You'll notice that only half the sandwich is visible in this shot. That's because I am eating the other half.

I absolutely love Harrison Street Coffee Shop. The food is consistently good, and vegans are spoiled for choices there. The specials and weekend brunch keep things interesting. The prices are also reasonable. The fried fish sandwich with the mac and cheese was around $7.00.

You can read more reviews for Harrison Street Coffee Shop on Yelp or Happy Cow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pasta with Arugula-Pecan Pesto

I was excited to see that there was a large bundle of peppery, leafy arugula in my CSA share this week, and I immediately knew what I wanted to do with it - make pesto and pour it over pasta! There was also a beautiful little head of broccoli, so that went in the dish, too.

Pesto doesn't just have to be made with basil and pine nuts. Now that summer is over, other herbs and green vegetables are showing up in my CSA shares - parsley and arugula are two that make excellent pesto sauces when combined with walnuts or pecans. This arugula was exceptionally delicious, as it was grown locally - it has a wonderful peppery bite and bright green color.

This was originally going to be arugula and walnut pesto, but I had accidentally purchased a bag of pecans instead - luckily, the pesto came out absolutely amazing using pecans instead of my intended walnuts. It was a very happy accident indeed. I did throw in the four or five walnuts I had hanging around, for good measure. Lightly toasting the nuts brings out their warm, mellow flavors and is far superior to using raw nuts of any kind.

Recipe for Whole Wheat Pasta with Arugula-Pecan Pesto and Broccoli (Makes 4 Servings):

What You Need:
  • 1 bunch fresh arugula
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans (walnuts work great, too)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bunch fresh broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 12 oz. whole wheat pasta (I used spaghetti)
  • 1 cup pasta water, reserved just before draining the pasta
  • salt and pepper, to taste
How to Make It:
  1. Begin cooking the pasta according to the package directions. Remember, before you drain it, you'll want to reserve a cup of the pasta water to add to the pesto - there's good flavor in it! 
  2. Meanwhile, put the arugula, garlic, toasted nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor.
  3. During the last minute or so of the pasta cooking, add the broccoli and cook until the broccoli is bright green and tender. Use a mug or measuring cup to scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and set aside to keep warm.
  4. Add half of the reserved pasta water (about 1/2 cup) to the blender or food processor. Attach the lid and blend, carefully and slowly at first, until the mixture is smooth. If it seems too thick, add more of the pasta water. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  5. Stir the pesto together with the cooked pasta and broccoli. Serve warm. Enjoy!

This meal only takes about 20-25 minutes to prepare and is very simple to make. But it still somehow manages to be rather elegant and impressive. Paired with a simply dressed salad and some toasted bread, this would be a lovely meal to serve guests - even omnivore guests, because (I swear!) they won't miss the parmesan cheese that is usually included with pesto. Aaron took a bite and thanked me for putting plenty of cheese in his portion, when in actuality I hadn't used any cheese or dairy at all. If arugula seems too frou-frou, or expensive, or difficult to find, or if you prefer a "quieter," more mellow pesto, you could easily use flat-leaf Italian parsley instead. Parsley-walnut pesto is equally delicious, just with a somewhat different personality. Either way, I hope you'll give an alternative pesto a try next time you bring out the blender!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Easy-Peasy Vegan Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup is easy to make, satisfying, and ridiculously inexpensive. And it certainly doesn't have to contain ham or bacon. This vegan version is made with dried green split peas, onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, and vegetable stock, and is flavored with bay leaf, fresh thyme and parsley.

All of the ingredients in this soup are inexpensive. I estimate that the total cost of ingredients I used in this soup was around $7.25, which made four servings for my very hungry fiance and me. That means that this meal cost about $1.81 per serving! I used organic vegetable broth from a carton to make this soup, but you could easily save a few dollars by using homemade vegetable stock.

Easy-Peasy Vegan Split Pea Soup (makes 4 meal-sized servings):

What You Need:
  • 1 1/2 cups dried split peas, rinsed, pebbles and whatnot removed
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 russet potato, cut into chunks
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (give or take, depending on how thick you like your soup)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • big handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
How to Make It:
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium. When the oil is hot, add the diced onion and celery and cook until the onion is translucent, 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots, potato, peas, vegetable broth, bay leaves, and the leaves from the sprigs of thyme. Stir. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender and falling apart and the vegetables are soft - about one hour. If the soup seems to thick, add more broth or a little water. Season with salt and pepper to taste as the soup cooks.
  3. When the soup is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the fresh parsley and lemon juice, if you are using it. Remove the bay leaves from the soup before serving. Enjoy!

The ingredients in this soup cost less than $2.00 per serving, but they bring a lot to the table (so to speak) from a nutrition standpoint. Split peas are about $1.00 per pound, and just one cup of cooked split peas offers an impressive 65% of the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber. Each bowl of soup contains about one whole carrot, which provides 157% of the vitamin A you need for the day. And although parsley is usually thought of only as a garnish or a flavoring, it contains significant amounts of vitamins A and C, and just one tablespoon of this leafy herb offers 77% of the RDA for vitamin K.

This healthy, delicious, affordable soup will likely remain in my repertoire through the fall and winter. Next time, I might try adding some of that tasty Field Roast smoked vegan sausage!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vegan Sausage, Roasted Root Vegetables, and Sauteed Kale

This is my very favorite sort of meal. It's very simple, and the basic components are: a protein, starchy, garlicky oven-roasted vegetables, and leafy greens with vinegar. On this occasion, we ate Field Roast smoked apple and sage vegan sausages, roasted sweet potatoes, red potatoes, carrots, and local radishes with garlic, and local kale sauteed with onion and red wine vinegar. The combination of different colors, flavors, and textures are what makes this meal so special and appealing to me.

Aaron and I decided that although the vegan sausages were delicious (read my review of Field Roast sausages here), the real highlight of the meal was the roasted root vegetables. They are sweet, warm from the oven, and very rustic and comforting. I use this simple but extremely effective cooking method to cook root vegetables of all types, in all different combinations. Oh, and roasting radishes might sound odd, but the result is tasty - they lose most of their peppery bite and get very mellow, almost like a roast turnip.

Roasted Root Vegetables (makes four side-dish-sized servings):

What You Need:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 8-10 medium-sized red potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 6-8 radishes (I used the purple-skinned variety)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
How to Do It:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the root vegetables into two-inch pieces. Try to get the vegetables into similar sized pieces, but don't be too worried with uniform shapes. Rustic is nice.
  3. Put the chopped vegetables and garlic into a roasting pan. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss everything together, making sure the vegetables are coated with oil.
  4. Roast the vegetables in the oven until tender, gently stirring every fifteen minutes or so to ensure even cooking - about forty-five minutes. Enjoy!

The vinegary kale provides a delicious counterpoint to the vegetables. The texture is more hearty, where the vegetables are soft, and the flavor is green and slightly bitter (as leafy greens are), where the vegetables are sweet. Its more assertive flavor balances out the gentle roasted carrots and sweet potatoes. The cooking method for the kale is again very simple and works for all sorts of dark green leafy vegetables, like collards, turnip greens, chard, and beet greens.

Sauteed Kale with Onions and Red Wine Vinegar: (makes four side-dish-sized servings):

What You Need:
  • 1 pound of kale, washed, stems removed, leaves cut into thin pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
How to Do It:
  1. In a large saute pan (I used a non-stick, wok-shaped pan), heat the oil on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced onion, and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent - about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the kale to the pan and stir to combine (it will cook down quickly and considerably). If it seems to be drying out, add a tablespoon or so of water. Continue to cook until the kale is dark green and tender.
  3. Season with the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Enjoy!

This, to me, is the best kind of vegan comfort food. And with its bright colors and abundance of different vegetables, you can tell right away that it is nutritious. In fact, according to the cookbook Power Foods (not a vegan cookbook, but with a distinct emphasis on plants) that I checked out from my local library, kale, sweet potatoes, and carrots are all designated "power foods" - some of the healthiest foods on Earth. So eat up!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Reviews Day: Field Roast Vegan Sausage

Yesterday I stopped by my local natural foods store, Richmond Virginia's Ellwood Thompson's Local Market, to see what new and interesting vegan products have come on the market during my two-year hiatus from veganism. Turns out, there are a lot! But I wanted to try a fake meat product for dinner, and I really liked the packaging on the Field Roast vegan sausage. I also liked that they are made from wheat gluten - I've enjoyed seitan in the past, so it would make sense if these sausages were similarly tasty. I grabbed a package of the smoked apple and sage variety (they also come in Italian and Mexican chipotle) - four sausages for $5.69.

It was a little tricky getting these out of the plastic casings. In the process, one of the sausages broke in half. But once they were out, it was simple enough to wrap the sausages in foil and stick them in the oven to cook until they were hot and lightly browned on the outside.

I ate these with roasted root vegetables and braised kale with onions and red wine vinegar. The smoky, rustic flavor really rounded out the meal. I was impressed by the texture - I think wheat meat must be the "meatiest" textured fake meat. It was very pleasant, with bits of apple and potato in the sausage. And they are definitely more wholesome than ordinary sausage.

A blog that is primarily about tasty vegan food is not the place to discuss in detail how non-vegan sausage is made. But, if you are interested, look up some of the common ingredients in meat sausage and find out how they are derived and what they actually are - start with mechanically separated pork or mechanically separated chicken or turkey. Or, watch this video from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, in which he demonstrates how mechanically separated chicken is made.

These vegan sausages are by no means low-calorie, however. The smoked apple sage variety has 240 calories per sausage, so you'll probably only want to enjoy one banger with your mash. Luckily, they are a good size as well as being very rich and satisfying.

If I had to make a complaint, it would be that the sausages are a little on the salty side, as meat substitutes sometimes tend to be. I would also prefer if the sausages were easier to get out of the plastic casing, but that might also be a problem with my technique. All in all, I enjoyed the meal I cooked with Field Roast vegan sausages, and I would happily purchase this product again.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Almost Chipotle" Beans and Rice

Chipotle Mexican Grill is one of my favorite places to eat. The food is cheap, fresh, and good, and there are a lot of vegan options - all except for the meat, dairy, pinto beans (there's bacon in there), and honey chipotle vinaigrette for salads is vegan. This meal has a lot of the same ingredients and flavors as a vegan Chipotle burrito bowl - for when a craving hits, but you don't feel like leaving home. Incidentally, this happens to me about every other day.

This special version of beans and rice includes brown rice flavored with lots of lime juice, fresh cilantro (which, on this occasion, was locally grown in Virginia by the amazing Frog Bottom Farm), black beans seasoned with a bay leaf, oregano, lots of chili powder and cumin, and Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce. Those are topped with roasted onions, peppers, zucchini, and squash, and finally, a whole avocado, chopped and tossed with lime.

How to make "Almost Chipotle" Beans and Rice (makes about 4 servings):
What you need:
  • 4 servings hot cooked brown rice, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 limes
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cans black beans (1 drained, 1 not drained)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 green pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 yellow squash, cut into half-moons
  • 1 zucchini, cut into half-moons
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
  • 4 avocados
  • salt, to taste
  • extra hot sauce, to serve
How to do it:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the black beans, including the cooking liquid from the undrained can of beans, with the bay leaf, oregano, chili powder, cumin and Tabasco. Stir, and simmer on very low heat until the flavors have combined and the beans are heated through. Add salt to taste.
  3. While the beans are simmering, toss the onion, pepper, zucchini, and squash with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Spread the vegetables evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and roast them in the oven until the vegetables are cooked and the edges are browned, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Combine the hot cooked brown rice with the juice of one lime and the entire bunch of chopped cilantro (use less if you prefer - but I love the stuff!) Adjust seasoning. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  5. Remove the flesh from the avocados and chop into chunks. Toss the avocado with the juice of the second lime and season lightly with salt.
  6. When all the components are cooked and ready, assemble the meal on a plate with a base of the cilantro-lime brown rice, topped with the black beans (try to remove that bay leaf, if you can find it!), then some of the roasted vegetables, followed by the avocado. The dish is especially good with Valentina hot sauce poured on just before eating. Enjoy!

This meal is truly a complete one, with grains, vegetables, beans, and even fruit. The leftovers reheat nicely, but if you plan to save some for leftovers, cut the avocados for the leftover portions when it's time to eat - they can turn brown overnight, even with liberal amounts of lime juice. Even though eating at Chipotle is really cheap, as far as eating out goes, it is even cheaper to make this meal at home. You also get to control the spice and seasoning level yourself, and swapping brown rice for Chipotle's white rice adds nutritional value to the meal - always a good thing!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

On chilly mornings, I really want a bowl of something warm and filling before I leave the house. It's made using only quick oats, canned pumpkin, maple syrup, dried cranberries, walnuts, pumpkin pie spice, some water, and a tiny pinch of salt, is quick and easy enough to make even on a hectic weekday morning.

This oatmeal tastes like autumn in a bowl. It is warm and slightly sweet from the pumpkin and maple syrup, with a bit of crunch from the walnuts. The dried cranberries have a soft texture after being mixed into the oatmeal, and they add a delicious, slightly tart flavor. The pumpkin pie spice, which usually includes warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, was devised with pumpkins and autumn in mind.

To make Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal:

What you need (makes two servings):

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. real maple syrup (or to desired sweetness)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, plus some for sprinkling on top of the cooked oatmeal
How to do it:
  1. Bring the water and salt to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quick oats and cook, stirring, for one minute.
  2. Turn the heat down very low. Stir in the canned pumpkin, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice. Taste, add more maple syrup and/or pumpkin pie spice, if desired. Warm the ingredients through, stirring constantly.
  3. Pour the cooked oatmeal into two bowls. Sprinkle each with the walnut pieces, dried cranberries, and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
  4. Enjoy!

This meal is full of healthy ingredients! The pumpkin has a huge amount of vitamin A, and is a clever way to sneak an orange vegetable into breakfast. The oats have lots of dietary fiber, and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and selenium. Even the maple syrup adds nutritional value - it contains smallish amounts of iron, calcium, and appreciable amounts of manganese.

Finally, this meal is pretty cheap. Starbucks (not an altar to frugality, I know, but still) charges something like $2 per serving of its "perfect oatmeal" - meaning that oatmeal for two would cost around $4 plus tax there. This meal can be made for a lot less than that, especially since canned pumpkin is usually on sale during autumn(!), and it takes less time to make than you'd spend waiting in line or in the drive-through at Starbucks. Also, I haven't had Starbucks' oatmeal (or McDonald's oatmeal, for that matter), but I'd bet you anything that this pumpkin oatmeal is better. Try it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday Reviews Day: Valentina Hot Sauce

I am a huge fan of hot sauce. I love many different kinds. Sriracha, Louisiana-style, piri-piri... if it's spicy, there's a good chance I'm going to like it. But my favorite hot sauces don't just have heat, they have a ton of flavor - and because of the tremendous amount of delicious flavor offered by Valentina, this hot sauce is my very favorite.

According to both the bottle and Wikipedia, Valentina sauce is made in Guadalajara, Mexico, and comes in two varieties: hot and extra hot. The consistency is thicker than a Tabasco, but somewhat thinner than sriracha. The color is a wonderful brick red. The flavor is very bright and savory, and the heat is a pleasant, middle-of-the-tongue sort of burn. The ingredients of this hot sauce are few (and they happen to be vegan). They are: water, chili peppers, vinegar, salt, spices, and sodium benzoate (as preservative). The awesome red color is all-natural, imparted by the chili peppers and spices.

I first encountered this hot sauce at Richmond's coolest all-vegetarian coffee shop / hangout spot, Harrison Street Coffee Shop. Ever since, I have been able to find it at a local grocery chain, Kroger. But should that supply ever dry up, I rest easy knowing that Valentina is also available from plenty of sources online, including  from various sellers on Amazon, a website called, and even on Ebay.

Good stuff.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Roasted Broccoli with Almonds and Lemon

Fall means lots of delicious green things to eat, like kale, turnip greens, collards, and my favorite - broccoli! It's delicious cooked a number of different ways, as long as it is not overcooked (the cardinal sin of cooking green vegetables). But one of my very favorite ways to cook broccoli is roasting it in the oven.

Roasting broccoli brings out the slightly nutty flavor and makes even the stalks delicious. Toasted nuts add crunch and complement the nuttiness of the roasted florets. Lemon juice adds a bit of brightness. It is a perfect method for autumn cooking, because the heat from the oven will warm your kitchen and fill it with a delicious, toasty aroma.

The broccoli I used was grown locally by Frog Bottom Farm, and was $3 per pound. I got two huge crowns of the stuff for $5.50 at Richmond's own St. Stephen's Farmer's Market on Saturday.

Here's the recipe for roasted broccoli with almonds and lemon:

What you need:
  • 1 crown of broccoli, cut into florets, tender stalks attached
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw almonds (or other nuts - hazelnuts would be really nice)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drizzle the broccoli florets with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread the broccoli florets evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and put the sheet into the oven to cook.
  3. Roast the broccoli in the oven until the stalks are tender, about ten minutes. Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the broccoli about one minute before the broccoli is cooked, allowing the nuts to toast.
  4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, squeeze the lemon juice over the broccoli, and toss to coat.
  5. Enjoy!

Everyone knows that broccoli is healthy, but here is some nutrition information about this vegetable, just for good measure. According to Nutrition Data, 1/2 cup of chopped, boiled broccoli has only 27 calories, but contains 84% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C, as well as 138% of the vitamin K, 10% of the fiber, and 21% of the  folate you need for the day. As for almonds, they contain healthy amounts of fiber, vitamin E, riboflavin, magnesium, and manganese.



Sunday, October 2, 2011

Crispy Baked Kale Chips

I have been meaning to try kale chips ever since they have (apparently) been taking the internet by storm. People have raved online about how crisp and delicious and amazing yet healthy these leaf-chips can be, but photographs of the stuff did not look particularly appetizing. I got eight ounces of curly kale in my weekly CSA from Frog Bottom Farm this week and kale chips seem to be a vegan favorite, so I thought they would be good to try as I re-embark on my vegan journey and as I begin this blog.

I can now confirm the rumors that baked kale chips are, in fact, delicious, crunchy, and even addictive. Aaron declared them "fun to eat and flavorful." I made three baking sheet's worth of chips from my half-pound of curly kale. And while they don't look particularly toothsome, they are surprisingly light and have an amazing crunch.

To make the chips, I looked around online at a bunch of different recipes, which are pretty much all variations on a basic technique - tear the kale into smallish pieces, coat with a little olive oil, spread evenly on a baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt, and bake until crispy.

The best part about this salty snack is that you can actually feel good about eating it. One ounce of kale (I used the data for boiled kale, as there was no data for baked or roasted) has 309% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, and 82% of the vitamin A you need in a day, according to Nutrition Data.

An added bonus is that kale gets pretty cheap during autumn. I saw some at my local grocery store today for 99 cents per pound. At that price, I used only 50 cents worth of kale to make this snack for two people. Not bad, considering the fact that you'd be hard pressed to find a bag of chips for 50 cents in most vending machines!