Great Low Calorie Snack Recipe: Surprisingly Tasty Kale Chips

On any diet or meal plan, the biggest hurdle is hunger. Meeting your fitness goals is often derailed by poor choices in-between meals because you’re simply uncomfortable with hunger pangs. When it isn’t quite dinner time, or when the last meal of the day is over but it’s not time to go to bed, reaching for a bag of your kid’s snacks or that snack lurking in the back of the pantry is a brutal temptation. Here’s the thing: Snacking isn’t the culprit! It’s important to remember that being hungry is okay. You aren’t starving to death, you’re just less full than you’d like to be. But when you’re watching TV with your family or hanging out with friends and everyone is snacking, there’s no reason you have to deprive yourself. An easy solution is to have healthy food available so you can eat a low calorie snack without derailing your plan, and so you can avoid that inevitable regret that comes from eating packaged, nutritionally empty foods that are so tempting. Kale is a superstar food, and not just because of its stellar nutritional profile. Sure, a cup of kale has 900% of your daily vitamin K needs, but it’s also versatile, inexpensive, and delicious. Kale chips (yes, chips!) are one of the most exciting ways to cook this veggie. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients For Kale Chips As A Low Calorie Snack

  • 1 large bunch kale, washed and patted completely dry
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Smoked paprika, garlic powder, or cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions For Kale Chips As A Low Calorie Snack

  • Preheat oven to 300° F.
  • Pull kale stems from leaves and discard stems. Tear kale leaves into pieces approximately 1.5-2 inches square
  • In a large bowl, toss leaves with olive oil, salt, and optional seasoning
  • Place kale on a large baking sheet. You should have enough kale for more than one batch.  Make sure leaves don’t overlap at all
  • Bake until most leaves are just beginning to brown at the edges, about 20-25 minutes
Note: You don’t want your kale chips to look burned, or even truly “baked.” They’ll be crispy and delicious, but will retain much of their bright green color. In just 30 minutes or so, you have a deliciously healthy option to scratch that snack itch whether you’re munching in front of a movie, supervising a play date, or hanging out with friends.    

How To Manage Snacking In A Healthy Way

Snacking is part social, part habit, and part real hunger. Americans love to snack on things – think about those giant boxes of candy sold in movie theaters or the packaged goods that line the shelves of your grocery stores. Since knowledge is power and staying informed will help you to stick to your plan and meet your goals, here’s a breakdown of how those factors impact your desire to snack and how to manage them in a healthy way:

Snacking During Social Activities

Snacking gives us something to do when we’re in groups. The last time you hung out with a group of friends, were there snacks around? Like so many of our unhealthy habits, snacking is something we do together, and we associate positive actions – chatting, joking, etc. – with the eating that goes with it. Here’s the thing: You don’t have to stop snacking when you hang out with your friends and family. You just need to keep your goals in mind, which means opting for your healthy snack instead of what everyone else is having.

How Habits Impact Snacking & Your Health

Reaching for a snack is a default behavior for most of us, and it isn’t because we’re damaged. We’re animals, and we learn behaviors from each other during our early developmental stages. Think about it: When babies cry, what do they inevitably want? Either a nap, a diaper change, or a snack, right? That’s a foundation for food as comfort, and it’s a perfectly normal function that adults use to self-soothe. But, it doesn’t work when you’re trying to change your lifestyle or lose weight, so it’s time to recognize those snacking behaviors for what they are – responses to boredom or discomfort that set your health & fitness goals back. When you’re feeling peckish, remind yourself that you’ve got a plan, and that your goals are too exciting to derail with a handful of junk food. Then, find something to occupy yourself for thirty minutes. That thing you’ve been putting off? Go do it. If you still have an urge to eat after that, reach for the kale and make a low calorie snack that fits your snacking behavior pattern and your diet at the same time.

Managing Your Hunger In An Effective, Healthy Way

There’s an ugly reality of losing weight: You’re going to be hungry, sometimes. Perhaps you remember the 1990s and the extreme “no-hunger” diets; nutritional science has come a long way since then and one universal truth to dieting has developed from it. The truth is simply that you must burn more calories than you eat to lost weight. This “caloric deficit” responsible for weight loss must occur whether you’re paleo, low-carb, no-carb, all-carb, vegan, etc. So, if you can’t seem to shake the mid-day food cravings then you simply need to make sure that your fitness routine is accounting for those extra calories. If you want to lose weight, do a little more exercise. If you are trying to gain weight, make sure you’re snacking at the right times, with healthy choices. What you can’t do is use snacking to stave off hunger indefinitely. The secret is balance. Choose a low calorie snack, and control what you’re putting into your body.

Use Kale Chips As The Perfect Low Calorie Snack

Change is tough, and what you’re doing could take some mental fortitude. Fortunately, you can take advantage of some tips and tricks along the way. If you’ve buckled down and made some changes already, adjusting your snacking habits is just the next small step to getting to a happier, healthier place. Snack smarter with a low calorie snack, and hit those goals. You’ve got this. For more recipes and other health and fitness resources, visit American Family Fitness or contact your nearest gym to get advice from a health and fitness professional.