homemade potato chips

The Nickel Pincher: The Tastiest Way to Eat Your Veggies

Bored with carrot sticks and baked potatoes? Turn 'em into chips instead!

By Jean Nick

The Nickel Pincher: The Tastiest Way to Eat Your Veggies

Sweet potatoes are tastier when you can eat them in chip form!

With food prices rising, even junk-food makers are feeling the pinch, as people are deciding that it's not worth it to dole out $3.50 for a bag of pesticide-soaked potato chips or genetically modified corn chips. Go for a healthier choice like vegetable chips, and expect to pay $5 a bag for about four servings of chips that aren't even organic.

Or just follow my lead and head to the produce aisle, where you can spend that $5 on a few pounds of organic potatoes or other starchy vegetables, and make three times the amount of homemade chips that you'd get in a bag.

Making homemade potato (or veggie) chips allows for a much healthier snack with as much or as little salt as you want, and you get more variety. You can season homemade chips with anything that strikes your fancy, and it's fun to get creative. Plus, you won't believe how much better fresh chips taste!

Although white Idaho and Russet potatoes are the most common chip fodder, you can make chips out of heirloom potatoes with red or blue flesh, which are very rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, and sweet potatoes (or yams, as they're commonly, but often incorrectly, called in the U.S.). But don't stop there—any starchy vegetable will work. Use tropical root veggies such as taro or yucca, aka cassava, the root from which tapioca starch is extracted. If you'd prefer to keep things seasonal, use firm root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, or beets. You can even make chips from homemade tortillas or from that leafy nutritional powerhouse kale.

Whether you go with homemade potato chips or some other type, here are the three easiest ways to make them:

In the Microwave

Microwaving is the fastest way to go from raw veggie to chip, and results in a surprisingly good crunch. You can't make more than a handful at a time, but when the chip urge strikes, you can satisfy it in less than 10 minutes.

1 medium organic potato or other firm, starchy vegetable
1 to 2 teaspoons organic vegetable oil—I use olive oil
Salt to taste (optional)

1. Use a pastry brush or spray applicator to apply a thin coat of oil to the inside of a microwave-safe dish such as a glass pie pan.

2. Scrub your veggie of choice, trim away any bad spots, and then slice it into 1/8-inch or thinner slices. Uniformly thin slices are key when making any kind of chip, as uneven slices will not get evenly crisp. Use a mandolin or a food processor with a bulk loader, if you have one. Otherwise, use a really sharp knife.

3. Arrange slices in a single layer on the bottom of the dish, and up the sides if need be, and spray or brush them lightly with more oil.

4. Microwave on high until the slices just start to darken. This may take as little as 3 minutes, if your slices are thinner and your microwave powerful, or as long as 8 or more minutes if your slices are thicker and if your microwave a bit anemic (as mine is). Just keep checking frequently to make sure they don't get too browned or burned. Salt to taste, and enjoy!


Published on: January 19, 2012

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