Crunching the Numbers on Veggie Chips

Crunchy chips made out of nutrient-packed vegetables, such as kale and beets—why didn’t someone think of this sooner? Veggie chips sound too good to be true—and indeed, you need to be careful. While there are plenty of new products made of pure vegetables with a few flavorings mixed in, there are also many “vegetable” chips that are actually potato- or corn-based with just a few vegetables added in.

Overall, most of these vegetable chips have healthier nutritional lineups than traditional potato or corn chips, and some are better than others. As long as your eating plan is based on a wide variety of foods from all food groups—lean proteins, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats—including a few servings of vegetable chips a week shouldn’t bump you off your healthy track.

Helpful hints. Consider these tips next time you’re looking to crunch into some healthier veggie-based chips.

  • The real thing. Whether you’re looking for a healthier snack or a bit of crunch in your serving of veggies, it’s important to look for those with actual vegetable content. Real veggie chips should list vegetables as the first in-gredient. In the blended chips, look for vegetables listed near the top of the ingredient list. You can also check the nutrition facts label. Chips that actually contain a good amount of beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, or leafy greens should have a high Vitamin A content—25% DV (Daily Value) or higher per serving.
  • Don’t forget the fat. Just because they’re made with vegetables, it’s important to recognize that many of these chips are still processed with oil and can contain a fair amount of fat, thus calories. So, don’t eat the whole bag!
  • Make your own. Veggie chips are a cinch to make. For root vegetables, use a vegetable peeler to get very thin slices. Leafy greens and Brussels sprouts just need to be separated into individual leaves. Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, and roast at 350° F for about 10–15 minutes, or until desired doneness, rotating the pan halfway through.

—Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD

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