Outdoor Food Markets + The Best Kale Chips

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Last summer my family and I traveled to Paris where outdoor food markets are found on nearly every corner. Each morning I would wake up before the rest of the family, purchase THE BEST cappuccino on the planet from the cafe below our apartment and walk to the market to purchase our food for the day. It was so fun and fresh and such a great way to eat and live!  No wonder those Parisian women are so svelte and gorgeous!

I love this National Geographic article about Outdoor Food Markets around the World. The photos are brilliant, of course! Doesn’t it make you want to quit your job and travel the world in search of the perfect eggplant?

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At home I go to the Evanston Farmers’ Market every Saturday from May until November, rain or shine. Sometimes I bring a kid with me, other times my whole family might tag along, occasionally I’ll meet my mom or a friend, but most often I go alone. The weekly ritual has become about so much more than simply purchasing fresh, local food. The Market feels like a sacred space to me, a place where I can recharge my batteries, connect with people and nature, and be inspired. The sights, sounds and smells ignite my senses.  The weekly interactions with the farmers, some of whom I’ve come to know personally over the years, satisfies a craving for a “small-town” life despite my love for the big city. The whole experience feels raw and real in a time when so much doesn’t.

That nostalgic feeling is likely a part of the reason outdoor food markets are up 180 percent since 2006 according to new research from the University of Iowa. Yea!

The bounty I bring home every Saturday changes with the seasons, but I ALWAYS grab a large bunch of organic kale. Kale has been added to the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of foods with the highest levels of pesticides so I try to buy it organic whenever possible.

Kale has gotten a bum rap recently as many are quick to claim the dark leafy green’s 15 minutes of fame are “over,” but considering kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth I certainly plan to keep on eating it.  I use kale in salads and smoothies, but I also use it to make kale chips. These are so simple to make. They are light and salty and your kids will gobble them up even though they’re green…I promise!

The Best Kale Chips

1 extra-large bunch of lacinato kale

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt

Preheat oven to 300°F. Remove stems and tear leaves into large pieces. Stems can be removed very easily by holding the base of one stem with one hand and pushing with the other hand along the stem to slide off the leaves (save stems to use in your smoothies).

Wash and thoroughly dry leaves before beginning. If leaves are damp at all, you will end up with soggy chips. I spin the leaves in a salad spinner and lay them out on a baking sheet to dry for a good 10-20 minutes before beginning.

Place the leaves in a bowl and poor oil onto the leaves. Massage the oil into the leaves with your hands. Make sure the leaves are fully coated but not drenched.

Place the leaves into a large Ziploc bag and poor sea salt into the bag. Seal and shake well until the salt is evenly distributed.

Spread the leaves in one layer onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Let cool for 3 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

These little munchkins even took time out from their jumping to nosh on some kale!

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P.S. It’s always a good idea to bring your own bag to the farmers’ market. There are so many adorable and affordable reusable bags out there, you might as well head to the market in style. I like this farmer’s market tote and  this cheeky one too, but I really love the pattern on this one AND it’s made by a company that supports marginalized women in India.

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