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Chipping Away at Super Foods

Summer is a fabulous time for farmer’s markets. In my home town of Evanston, we have one of the best farmer’s markets in the Chicago area. The organic greens are diverse and plentiful. I have my pick from collards, a rainbow of chards and kales as well as sorrel, dandelions, amaranth and nettles.

I’m a sucker for crunchy, savory foods and love chips. Since I avoid foods that have been cooked at high heat in order to avoid the acrylamides they contain, I try to eat only dehydrated chips. I prefer to make my own chips from all sorts of fresh greens. My favorites have been the obvious kale as well as collards. I choose all types of kale with the Italian La Cinato as one of my favorites. This past weekend, I bought amaranth leaves and made chips from those, delicious!

Amaranth is in the same family as quinoa, chard, spinach and beets, the Chenopodiaceae family of plants. While most think of amaranth and quinoa as grains, they are not, what is used as the grain is actually the seed.

The leaves of amaranth are one of the most nutritious of all leaves, containing more vitamin C, three times more calcium and three times more niacin (vitamin B3) than spinach leaves. (Or twenty times more calcium and seven times more iron than lettuce. They are also pigmented a deep magenta which are categorized as betalains which are shown to have free radical scavenger properties, and are important phytonutrients such as the pigments in beets or red chard. All the leafy greens in this family contain high amounts of oxalates. While those with kidney stones and a few other conditions need to avoid these foods, the rest of us do not.

I tend to feed on my greens as raw chips in the warmer months and sauteed in olive oil in the cooler months. My favorite chip recipe utilizes the environmentally safe, African red palm oil (for its tocotrienol content as well as interesting flavor), nutritional yeast, chili, salt, lime juice and hemp seeds. While my dehydrator trays need a good cleaning after drying this recipe, it is worth it for the amazing flavor.

Whatever leaves you chose, wash and cut and set aside in large bowl. In another bowl, mix red palm oil, salt to taste, yeast, liquid chili such as a Challula or habenero sauce, lime juice and hemp seeds. This makes more of a paste then a dressing. Pour it on the greens and use your clean or gloved hands to disperse the paste well onto the leaves. I recommend playing around with the percentage of each of the above ingredients as how cheesy (yeast), or how salty or spicy you like it is very individual.

I dehydrate these at 115 for 8 or more hours, less time is needed if you flip them off the silicone trays after the first 4 hours.

Not many make it to my air tight containers!

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