michele the chipstress

+ = (♥)

How often are you excited about a new gig? Like really excited, because it’s something you love and something you can support?

I just got one of those. It’s pretty OK.

Here’s the story, from the not-so-distant past: My friend Sarah and this guy she works with, Ugyen (they both work with Tom), start Pacific Northwest Kale Chips. So I try some. I love them. I need more.

A couple of months go by. They need help getting the word out. I’m super-underemployed and I’m all about word. We talk. We sign a contract.

So while what I’m about to tell you could potentially benefit me, I’m still me and you know that I’m not going to lie to you about anything ever.

I friggin’ love these kale chips. Why? Not just because they’re vegan, because a whole lotta kale chips out there are vegan. Raw? Sure they are, but so what? I’m the kind of gal who largely lets nutrition happen by accident. Gluten-free and soy-free, whatever—could be really important to you, though. Local? Love it. Organic ingredients, sign me up. But how do they taste?

Fantastic.

My favorite flavor is the Stumptown Original. It’s made with hazelnuts and cayenne and a bunch of other vegetables. Gives you a little tingle. Because the cayenne hits late, the flavor evolves over the first few bites. I love food that can do that, make you love it more as you go. I made a pasta out of this one: cooked up some cheap TJ’s pasta, added a little vegan butter, and crunched up a handful of chips and stirred. (Backpacking food! Lazy food!) You’re welcome.

I apologize. I put as much effort into photographing as I did cooking on this one.

Then comes Glacier Greens. It’s got cilantro, jalapeno (just a little), and some lime. Not as spicy as the cayenne, but it’s definitely got a little somethin’.

And for the kids, the Cheezy Crunch. Seriously, toddlers (and, apparently, everyone else) can’t get enough of this stuff. It’s my least favorite of the three, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t polish off a bag of it in a day and enjoy the hell out of doin’ it.

But Michele, they’re made out of nuts! Won’t they kill Tom? Yup. I have to be pretty careful about sharing a water glass or otherwise contaminating his no-nut bubble. I can’t wait until there’s a seed-based one they’re happy with so I can eat them Cookie Monster style if I so choose, sending kaley, seedy crumbs hither and thither.

Much like some of the other companies I’ve written about, digging the product comes hand in hand with digging the people who make the product. Sarah and Ugyen (and now Sasha—HI SASHA!) put so much love into these. With all those dehydrators going, the kitchen can get a little hot, but they keep at it, not cutting corners, spending hours upon hours washing vegetables, grinding them up with nuts and spices, coating the kale…then hand-labeling, stamping and filling the bags. All for you (and me)!

So there you go. If you see them, I say buy them and eat them. They’ll ship ’em too. Or you can get them at a bunch of farmers markets (I’ll tweet which ones I’ll be at). And if you think your store should carry them, ask for them. I can ask too—just email me at michele [at] pacifickale [dot] com or vegtasticvoyage [at] gmail [dot] com.

For you bloggers looking to review them, we’ll get there soon. We need to make sure samples get to stores and that we produce enough to fill orders. (This also explains why I haven’t been able to put up a Store Locator page on the website yet—time and money!) Anyway, let me know if you want me to keep you in mind whenever we reach that point. Other than that, um, I guess I’ll see y’all at VegFest!

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