Thursday, October 11, 2012

This is Good Stuff: Trader Joe's Kale Chips

I haven't been doing this blogging thing for too long yet, but I have learned that there's a fine line between trying to sound like you know what you're talking about and being an overconfident know-it-all.

I was reminded of this tonight when watching an episode of the TV show Party Down--which I'm about as late on as I was with Arrested Development--when the character Roman DeBeers (played by Martin Starr) said,
People care what I think!  I have a prestigious blog, sir!
I sincerely hope I never become that guy (for many other reasons, too), but the thing is, sometimes you want people to listen to what you have to say.  Today is one of those days.  I want to talk about the new Kale Chips from Trader Joe's, which I found to be utterly delicious and worthy of a little splurge.

It must be said that one prohibitive aspect of the Kale Chips is their price: $4 for a 2 oz. bag.  When I saw the Kale Chips in the store, then noticed the price, I walked right on by.  Fortunately, K later investigated more closely and was willing to take the plunge.  And by the time the night was over, we'd finished most of the bag.  It was only then that I realized the chips would be worthy of a blog post, hence the pictures below featuring mostly crumbs.  Trust me, there are some larger pieces in the bag, though they do break easily.

The packaging is the first thing Trader Joe's deserves kudos for; the mock-comic book design is unique and effective in touting that these Kale Chips are not just tasty ("zesty nacho") but also super(hero) food: an "excellent" source of Vitamin A and a "good" source of fiber, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Fresh kale is never all that cheap, and it shrinks down a little when cooked.  And if you want to make your own kale chips, it's really quite the process: cleaning, drying, and cutting it, removing the thick stems, and then drying it out in the oven or a dehydrator.  Taking all that into account, the price of these chips is far from excessive. 

Cashews are the second ingredient, which also helps to explain the cost--and some of the awesome flavor.  These are vegan chips, and the cashews and spices effectively mimic natural cheese flavor, which pairs well with the pleasantly-bitter background taste from the kale.

Calling it zesty nacho doesn't really do the flavoring of the Kale Chips justice, though.  We're not talking Doritos-taste here, and the remaining ingredients help explain that.  You've got sunflower seeds, carrot powder, red bell pepper powder, onion powder, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, salt, garlic powder, and chipotle powder.  The nuttiness of the cashews also comes through, and though chipotle powder is the final ingredient, it isn't an afterthought--combined with the bell pepper it adds that little bit of zest that gives the Kale Chips more depth of flavor.

Each bag is just two servings, 150 calories apiece, with 9 grams of fat (1g saturated).  Not bad at all--the fat comes primarily from the cashews, so even there you've got good fat.  And yes, you do get a solid amount of vitamins and nutrients from such a tasty snack.

No, they may not be the best deal, and if you're looking for as many nutrients as possible you'd be better off cooking up a pot of fresh kale.  But if you want a uniquely delicious and healthful snack, then I can confidently--though hopefully not pretentiously--recommend Trader Joe's Kale Chips. 


  1. I was shocked at how good these chips were. I am giving them a great review myself! I almost ate half a bag before I could stop. The only problem is that they (the chips) are pretty fragile and there is a lot of kale dust at the bottom of the bag. I supposed you could sprinkle it on something!

    1. Yeah, it would be really easy to eat the entire bag in one sitting (which wouldn't really even be bad for you, compared to eating a ton of chips or something).

      They are quite fragile, but that does speak to the good job they did of getting the chips so dry and crispy.

  2. I used the kale chips dust as a crunchy topper for my morning omelette.

    Now I need to get me a new bag!