When I snack, I try to stick to fresh fruits and vegetables, but sometimes I want something with crunch, not the moist crunch of a carrot but the carb-filled crunch of a potato chip. When I get really desperate for a treat, I leave the pre-packaged snacks–with their fat, chemicals, and processed ingredients–on the grocery store shelves and make my own healthy snacks using natural ingredients that I usually have in my pantry.
My taste in snacks runs from the very simple (baked tortilla chips) to the unusual (roasted okra). But my very favorite, the one crunchy snack that almost everyone loves, is also the easiest to make: microwave potato chips.
I’ve been making these for years, and I even bought this totally unnecessary gadget, which I used exactly once. (You’re supposed to stand the potato slices in this piece of slotted, circular plastic from which, once they are cooked, it will take a bipartisan act of congress to get them unstuck. If you see one for sale, please don’t waste your money.)
After dozens of under- and over-cooked batches of microwave chips, I’ve found that the best gadget for making chips is simply the glass tray in my microwave. I’ve also discovered that the way to get the chips crispy without burning is to stop the cooking just as they begin to brown, let them sit in the microwave for a minute, and then finish the cooking. I’m pretty confident that if you follow the instructions below, your potato chips will come out golden and delicious every time.
Microwave Fat-Free Potato Chips
It's easy to make "baked" potato chips right on the tray of your microwave.
- medium russet potato
- parchment paper
- optional seasonings: chili powder, Creole seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, etc.
Using a mandolin or v-slicer, slice one medium russet potato (peeled, if you like) as thinly as possible, taking care that all slices are the same thickness. Line the turntable tray of your microwave with parchment paper and place the potato slices on it without overlapping. Salt lightly and sprinkle with your choice of seasonings.
Microwave at full power–watching closely–until spots of brown begin to appear, about 4-6 minutes. Turn off the microwave for 1 minute. Microwave again at full power until the slices are golden brown. (Be very careful not to over-brown or they will taste burned.) Remove from the microwave and allow to cool. Repeat until all potato slices are cooked.
Salt and Vinegar Chips: Dip each potato slice into cider vinegar before putting it on the parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt before microwaving.
My favorite spur-of-the-moment snack is simple: rinsed, canned chickpeas sprinkled with Creole seasoning. It’s hardly a crunchy snack, but it does satisfy the craving for salty foods. The problem for me is that it’s all too easy to over-eat chickpeas when they take so little effort to chew.
That’s where roasted chickpeas come in: they satisfy the urge to crunch, and a few go a long way. There are recipes all over the internet for roasted chickpeas, some using soaked dried beans and others using pre-cooked beans. I recently did a little experiment to see which kind I prefer.
I made two batches, one using dried chickpeas and one using canned. I flavored the dried with lime and chili powder and the canned with curry. Overall, I preferred the canned–the texture was lighter and less hard than the dried version. Plus, they’re quicker to make, so they’re better in the case of a snack emergency. Both versions are below, so you can conduct your own experiment.
Chili Roasted Chickpeas from Dried Beans
If you like your roasted chickpeas on the harder side, use this recipe that starts with uncooked chickpeas.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
Pick over and rinse the chickpeas. Cover them with water 2 inches above the level of the beans and let soak overnight.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put in a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the chili powder and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain. Place in a bowl and toss with the lime juice..
Preheat the oven to 400F. Lift the chickpeas out of the bowl with a slotted spoon and place them in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Stir after 15 minutes, brushing them with the lime juice remaining in the bowl. Repeat three times, the last time sprinkling them with the remaining chili powder and salt. When they are golden brown and crispy (about 50-60 minutes in total) remove from the oven . Cool completely before serving.
Curry Roasted Chickpeas from Canned Beans
- 1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon salt optional
Preheat oven to 400F. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Spray a baking sheet with canola oil and spread chickpeas out in a single layer. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until golden and crunchy, about 45-50 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
Unfortunately, my family and I seem to lack the “kale chip gene.” Even after I baked them perfectly–not burned like my first batch or chewy/underdone like my second–we just don’t like them. Perhaps my kale was just overly bitter; if you give them a try, please let me know your opinion.
- 4 large leaves kale
- olive oil spray optional
Preheat the oven to 350F. Wash kale and cut into two-inch pieces. (Try to make the pieces all the same size or they will not cook at the same rate.) Spray a baking sheet with oil and place the pieces of kale on it in a single layer. Spray lightly with oil, if desired, and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 7 minutes. Turn the chips over and bake for 3-7 more minutes, until crispy and edges just beginning to brown. Cool and eat.
Ooops–Serene’s comment below reminded me to add this photo of one of my favorite summertime snacks, frozen grapes. I keep a bunch in the freezer so that it’s easy to grab a few when I’m hungry or hot or both!
What’s your favorite low-fat snack? I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a recipe or link to it in the comments section.
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