By Christine Quinlan
Updated May 23, 2017

Comedian Lizz Winstead on her search for perfectly mindless (but healthy) munching.

Photo © Lauren Tamaki.

When I quit smoking, I went on a hunt for a cigarette substitute. Gum worked to a point, but I often crave salty flavors rather than sweet, and there is a reason they don’t make a cool ranch Dentyne. I wanted something I could toss in my mouth while writing and watching TV. And I didn’t want to gain weight and look like I simply went from smoking tobacco to smoking a ham.

I needed something I could eat by the handful, over and over, without comprehension, so it had to be healthy. But it also had to taste so good you’d swear it was bad for you. My neighbor, a hippie-turned-power-mom, introduced me to kale chips. Not the store-bought ones, mind you. Those are coated in a powdered something that may as well be Gold Bond.

To achieve kale-chip nirvana, you have to get a little DIY and make your own. Let me tell you, they fill every salty, crunchy dream on a snack addict’s bucket list. Crucial tip: You must let your kale dry completely, or you will wind up with a snack that is oily and damp— a culinary combo that historically has been met with very limited success. When you get it right, Holy Mary Mother of Good! Kale-luja! Bonus: When I’m watching cable news and I hear a politician lie, I can toss a fistful at the TV without breaking something.

Lizz Winstead is the co-creator of The Daily Show and the author of the essay collection Lizz Free or Die.