Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kale Chip Showdown #2

Interestingly enough, since I posted the first kale chip showdown back in June, it has been the review that continues to get the most hits on a regular basis. Raw kale chips are incredibly popular right now. They are showing up in natural foods stores across the country and everyone seems to want to try their hand at making them. As I've been traveling, I've been trying kale chips everywhere I go so I figured it was time for the Kale Chip Showdown #2.

From top left clockwise: Kaia, Super Hero, Sunfire Girls, Love Force
The contenders are:
From top left clockwise: Love Force, Sunfire Girls, Super Hero, Kaia

I'll start with the one I liked least and work my way up -- so we'll start with Kaia Foods. Kaia Foods is a company based in Oakland, CA that has distribution across the country. I have seen their products in every Whole Foods I have ever been in so I thought these would be the best ones. Not so. You will notice that these kale chips don't actually look like kale at all. It appears that they have pressed the kale into these little disks and although it states they are dehydrated at low temperatures, it also states that they are 85% raw so something was cooked at a higher temperature. Regardless, these chips were not very good at all. They were soft as if they were stale and had this sour, flavorless taste to them. I think I will have to dredge them in hummus to be able to bear the rest of the bag. They were made with sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast and tamari.

Kaia Foods

In the #3 spot are the Super Hero Snacks Cosmic Kale crunchies. I found these in Santa Cruz, which is also where they are made. At this time, their website is down so I can't learn much more about them.  And, I accidentally threw the tag away that was on the top of the bag so I can't describe the ingredients. Their kale chips were mostly broken into little pieces even though I picked them up in the city in which they were made. They were heavily coated with sesame seeds, but didn't have much other flavor. They were thin and brittle. I found them to be bitter and not very good.

Super Hero Snacks

In the #2 spot are the Love Force kale chips. These chips recently showed up in my Whole Foods in DC. They are imported from Cincinnati, OH. I looked long and hard to find a container that wasn't completely filled with crumbs -- eventually I found one. These chips had a nice texture and crunch to them and great flavor. I loved how cheesy they were. They are made with cashews, lemon juice, sea salt, agave nectar, cajun spice, and garlic -- most of the ingredients are organic.

Love Force

They would have won had it not been for the new player in town. I happened to find some new kale chips in the Whole Foods in Friendship Heights, MD. They are made by the Sunfire Girls who are local to the area. The first thing I noticed about them was their packaging as their container was rounded and very different from any other kale chip container I'd ever seen. Their label was also very professional and I could tell they spent a lot of time on their brand. These kale chips are amazing! They were mostly intact with very few crumbs. The flavor was different than any other chip I'd ever had because the recipe is very different from any other kale chips. They use cashews, zucchini, bell pepper, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, ancho chili, nutritional yeast, flax seeds, paprika, agave nectar, garlic powder, celtic sea salt, and cayenne pepper. Wow!  They had a great crunch with just the right amount of flavor. The chili is spicy, but not too spicy and all of the other ingredients contribute to a unique taste.

Sunfire Girls

So, the winner is the Sunfire Girls from Washington, DC. I think this warrants a separate story just about them. Stay tuned.

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