Potato chips are one of the classic American snacks. They're salty, crispy, and available in about a zillion different flavors, but their deep-fried preparation means they're also not exactly a cornerstone of a healthy diet.
That's why, when you're craving a crispy, salty snack, homemade chips are the healthier way to go.
"Going the DIY route means you can control the quality of the produce, and you can control how they're seasoned," says Molly Morgan, RD. So forget your store-bought BBQ chips (we know, it’s hard), and dive into these alternative veggie chips.
A medium-sized carrot will only run you about 25 calories, Morgan notes. "They're an excellent source of vitamin A," she adds. "Plus, carrots deliver beta-carotene, which the body changes into vitamin A. And, color matters. The deeper the color orange of the carrots, the more beta-carotene you are getting."
You've heard the positives and nutritional benefits of the trendy leafy green, but its advantages continue to rage on. "Kale delivers folate, vitamins A, C, K, potassium, calcium, and zinc," Morgan adds. Need more convincing? "Kale gets its color from lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been linked to protecting against macular degeneration and cataracts."
One cup of parsnips means about 100 calories, but while it's one of the more calorie-heavy veggies on the list, it still has its benefits. "Each cup has about 6.5 grams of fiber, which can help to fill you up and balance blood sugar levels," Morgan says. Add some squash in with the parsnip (as in the recipe below), and you have another healthy helping of B-vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
1 medium summer squash
1 medium parsnip, scrubbed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 250°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. With a mandoline or very sharp knife, very thinly slice each of the vegetables lengthwise. Arrange the vegetable slices in a single layer on the baking sheets and brush with the olive oil.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, then carefully flip the vegetables and return to the oven until the vegetables are crisp, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
4. Let the vegetables cool completely on the baking sheets, then transfer to an airtight container. They will last up to 2 weeks stored in a cool, dry place.
Ready for a serious nutritional punch? Listen up. "Once up of Swiss chard has about seven calories," Morgan says —yes, you read that correctly. "Yet, each cup also delivers about 44 percent of the daily value of vitamin A." On top of that, expect additional vitamins C and K, potassium, and iron.
Baked Chard Chips
4 large swiss chard leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat two large rimmed baking sheets with olive oil cooking spray or healthy oil such as coconut oil, walnut oil, or olive oil.
2. Trim the stems and cut out the large center ribs from the chard. Tear the leaves into 3-to 4-inch pieces; you'll have about 6 cups, loosely packed.
3. In a bowl, toss the chard and carrots with the olive oil, cumin, and salt. Keeping the carrots together at one end of a baking sheet, spread the chard and carrots on the prepared baking sheets, trying to keep the chard in a single layer.
4. Bake, without turning, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the chard is crisp and starting to brown at the edges. Transfer the chard to a serving plate. Spread the carrots out more on the baking sheet and return them to the oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes more, or until curled and lightly golden. Transfer to the plate with the chard and serve.
Filled with nearly three times your daily recommended intake of vitamin A, and a healthy dose of vitamin B-6, potassium, and dietary fiber, this potato will give you the starchy flavor you're craving without the added unhealthy additions.