So how do you make vegan ‘Cheesy’ Kale Chips without the cheese?
Don’t let the name scare you, it might sound funky, but it’s really good, and really good for you! Nutritional yeast is popular with vegans & vegetarians and those who are health-conscious. As a reliable source of vitamin B12 (important for brain and immune system functions), nutritional yeast is often used as a dairy-free substitute for cheese because of its similarities in taste.
Health Benefits of Nutrtional Yeast Include:
- Kosher & gluten free
- Dairy free
- 18 different amino acids, making it a complete protein, with 8 grams of protein per serving (2 tbsp)
- Only natural animal-free source of the all-important B vitamins
- Helps maintain ideal intestinal ecology
- Helps improves blood production
- Helps in maintaining optimum cholesterol levels
- Helps improve liver health and function
Including Nutritional Yeast in Your Diet:
Besides the awesome health benefits of nutritional yeast, it has a nutty and cheesy taste, making it a popular diary cheese replacement for vegans. Here are some creative ways in which nutritional yeast can be included in your everyday diet:
- Topping for popcorn, instead of butter and salt
- In on your scrambled eggs
- Nutritional yeast “cheese” can be made to adorn a vegan pizza or lasagna
- Add to soup to give it a creamy texture without adding milk
- On baked or in mashed potatoes
- Can be used as a cheesy pasta sauce
- Mix with vinegar and oil for a salad dressing
Buying Nutritional Yeast:
Most health stores (I buy mine at Whole Foods and Sprouts) and some grocery stores carry nutritional yeast. At times it can be labeled as ‘savoury yeast flakes.’ It’s sold in canisters, packages, shakers, and sometimes bulk bins.
* Nutritional yeast is not brewers yeast – it’s a deactivated yeast with texture similar to cornmeal that is often used by vegans as a good source of B vitamins and as a complete protein. (Complete proteins have all essential amino acids – this is hard to get for those who don’t eat animal proteins.) It gives a “cheesy” feel in this recipe. Find it in the supplements section of most health food stores.
‘Cheesy’ Kale Chips
1 bunch of curly kale
1 cup cashews + water to soak
1/2 Red Pepper, seeds removed
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast*
1 tsp agave nectar
Salt + Pepper (to taste)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cashews in a bowl and cover with room temperature water for at least 2 hours. After cashews have soaked, strain the water and discard. Rinse and dry the kale. Remove the kale leaves from stems and tear into chip sized pieces. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until the sauce becomes smooth and creamy. Pour the sauce mixture over kale and massage into kale and toss with your bare hands, coating each leaf. Place kale a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil (sprayed with nonstick or olive oil cooking spray). Bake for 20 minutes. Check chips after 15 minutes of baking to ensure they’re not burning.
Note: The chips may need to bake for a shorter or longer period of time depending on how much “cheese” sauce is on them. Timing is crucial for these chips: If they are undercooked they will be soggy, but if overcooked they can easily burn, so be sure to check on them frequently.