Vegetable chips can easily fit into a weight management plan, not the fried ones but the dried ones. You must have heard about the recent health food – kale chips which are being sold at the rate of about 300rs for 250gms. Dehydrated vegetable chips are currently trending as health foods and we suggest you try them and also innovate your own.
Although, we can mostly imagine only potatoes or sweet potatoes being converted into chips, several other vegetables can also be used- carrots, beetroot, eggplant/ brinjal, zucchini, turnips, cucumber, etc. These are more nutritious than the fried versions as negligible or no oil is required in their preparation. Different types of seasonings such as mint, paprika, lemon, tamarind, etc can be used to enhance flavor.
Steps to bear in mind before making vegetable chips:
Proper cleaning – Removing any decayed, bruised or spoiled portions of the vegetable is very important so that the vegetables last longer. Also removal of woody portions or the core wherever necessary can ensure that the final product is more evenly cooked and has uniform texture.
Pre-treatment of the vegetable – For preparing dehydrated chips, the vegetables have to be pre-treated in a certain way. This holds true especially when we are looking at a longer shelf life. Basically, anything required to be stored for long needs to be processed in a way such that the activity of microorganisms in them stops. Hence, some vegetables such as tomatoes,squash, etc need to be blanched before dehydrating. Blanching involves heating in water at very high temperatures which helps in destroying enzymes in the vegetable.
Appropriate tools for cutting – It is preferable to cut the vegetables using a slicer or food processor such that the pieces are of uniform size. This ensures that the same intensity of heat will cause a uniform drying for all pieces. Otherwise, a big piece may require longer dehydration time versus a smaller one.
Effect of drying on nutritional quality
I know the major question looming in your mind is that – are nutrient retained after this high temperature exposure. Well, we have gone through some studies and found the following:
-Dehydration does lead to substantial loss of Vitamin C which is a heat sensitive vitamin
-The antioxidants related to the colourful pigments of vegetables are mostly retained even after dehydration e.g.anthocyanins and capsaicin
-Beta carotene is also not affected by drying process
-Fiber content continues to remain the same
So go ahead and make your own bag of colourful and healthy chips. Since dehydration can increase shelf life, you can preserve seasonal vegetables to be enjoyed later also. However, it is advisable to dehydrate small quantities at a time so as to be used within a short time and make fresh each time. Enjoy the guilt-free munchies and share with friends.
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- H. Hui, E. Özgül Evranuz Handbook of Vegetable Preservation and Processing, Second Edition