Remember how I said I wanted this Topchips veggie chip maker for Christmas? Well, I got it, so I thought that I’d share a little report. Here’s what it looks like:
Basically, it’s a mini mandolin slicer with a tray that you put in the microwave (it’s all supposed to be okay for the dishwasher, too). When I first looked at it, the mandolin looked pretty cheapish, but it’s held up well through several test-slicings. I’ve tried a variety of items. Here are a few:
So, there we’ve got (going clockwise) a parsnip, an apple, a potato, a sweet potato, and a yucca. I’ve also tried making chips from a turnip and carrots. I got motivated enough to take a couple of pictures while I tested the parsnip and the yucca for the first time today. Here they are all sliced up and ready to go into the microwave:
Actually, I messed up in this case, because usually I’d sprinkle the tray with salt, because it adheres much more nicely when it’s little damp before cooking. Taking the photo distracted me. Slicing the stuff up is fast and easy. You basically just run the item back and forth a few times–easier, I’d say, than grating cheese. It’s slightly more time-consuming to pick up each little slice and lovingly place it in a single layer on the try. But not that much time. Cooking is quick. Here’s what these looked like after 3 1/2 minutes:
Okay, so right away that you can see that this isn’t a totally efficient snack. Things shrink down, yo. In this case, I’d recommend that for a whole tray of yucca (on the right above), I might increase it to 4 minutes, and for the parsnips (at left above), I’d do 3 minutes. Except I wouldn’t, because the parsnips were not good. Yuck. A for effort though, right?
When the chips come out of the microwave, they are still a bit flexible while they’re hot, and they crisp up as they cool. Theoretically you’re supposed to blot the potatoes dry before cooking them, but I’ve refused to do this extra work on principle, and the only penalty is that they stick a bit. You can buy multiple trays and stack them, although that messes with the cooking times, so I don’t know if it would be worth it.
Here’s my chart of what we’ve tried:
Kids liked them and ate them all quickly, I thought that they were so-so (I’m not a huge carrot fan)
|Potatoes||Everybody liked them and ate them|
|Sweet potatoes||Kids thought that they weren’t as good as carrots and potatoes, but they still ate them|
Everybody liked these, although I was a teensy bit disappointed that I was unable to recreate the deliciousness of Panera’s Fuji Apple Chicken Salad apple chips
A surprise hit with me, just like in Terra Chips, the kids thought they were okay and will no doubt like them more when I remember to salt them
I was saddened to read in the instructions that I’m not supposed to try to make beet chips. Which is really the only way I enjoy beets. I’m thinking of rebelling and just trying it, but since the instructions specifically warn against it, I wonder what could happen. Will it dye everything red permanently? Make the tray spontaneously combust? Actually, I just found a couple of product descriptions that said that beets are okay, so I’m going to give it a shot. Meanwhile, the Topchips folks also suggest pear and mango chips, which I haven’t tried yet.
And therein lies the main problem for me: pears, mangoes, apples, potatoes, and carrots are all delicious as chips, but my kids will eat them, anyway. So, for us, it’s not necessarily worth the trouble. When it comes to sweet potatoes, my kids are sometimes pro, sometimes con, so those chips and the yucca chips (and maybe beets chips) are worth making in terms of getting the kids to expand their vegetable repertoires.
I think that this is also a nifty little gadget if you are a savory-snack person, because you could trade in your salt-and-vinegar potato chips and soda for homemade sweet potato chips and seltzer with lime and you could feel both satisfied and self-satisfied at the same time. Because that’s one heck of a virtuous snack, and it’s still tasty.
If you like making healthful lunches and/or snacks for the kiddos, I’d say that a tray’s worth of veggies would make two little portions as part of your overly-ambitious healthful smorgasbord of deliciousness. I can also imagine that the particularly devious and crafty parent could successfully con her toddler/preschooler into believing that they’re eating “real” chips for years. Which reminds me, if you’re trying to get the kids to eat veggies, you should check out this old post for some other tips and ideas.