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Sunday Food: Chips, Potato and Tortilla

Lots of chips

(Picture courtesy of Brad Hammonds at

In the past week, I used the term ‘chips’ casually, and stumbled on a mistaken notion that is probably pretty common.   When I talk about having chips, that sounds like I am having the most commonly known form which is the everyday potato chip.   Of course, that is coated in grease, and fried, and the amount of actual potato in it is probably not enough to constitute the starch portion of an acceptable meal.   The deep fried potato chip probably does still constitute the large part of chips sold.

Lately, I’ve found that potato chips made special just for your meal, fresh, are on a lot of menus, and can be loaded with any number of tasty toppings as well.   This all has as far as I know evolved for the chips in fish n’ chips, a french fry that works well with coated and fried fish and comes from Great Britain where they are everywhere.

In this present health conscious age, the variety of chips available has increased, and diversified, and includes many versions that are healthier than that image.   Even baked potato chips are a bit preferable, but when I snack on chips usually it is baked tortilla chips, and usually made of white cornmeal.   That’s 137 calories, 54% carbohydrates and no cholesterol (see the link) – a far, far better thing than what I had called to mind.   While potato chips are typically fattier,155 calories, they have less nutrition overall (5% carbohydrates) and probably aren’t a good addition to any meal.

While ideally, it would be best to mix up some nice cornbread to have with my meal, occasionally I want to dip something.   This time it was guacamole, and my tortilla chips are the way to go much of the time when I snack on guacamole.

Not too long ago, I was having an online conversation with a frustrated father of teenagers who was spending a fortune on the chips his kids seemed to live on, and find a necessity.   I asked if he’d tried getting a package of tortillas and cutting them up, baking them, and offering them as a healthier, even sometimes tastier, alternative snack?   He tried it, the kids loved it, and last I heard, the kids had gotten into making their own chips – busy work that the father was delighted with in all of its applications, but of course, cheap.   I didn’t venture to mention that if you want cheap, you can even make your own tortillas, as the kids might catch on that they were doing Dad a favor as well as being Great Kids.

To make your own tortilla chips you can make many varieties of toppings, but for baked homemade ones, here’s a basic recipe.


  • About 3/4 to 1 cup canola, grapeseed, or corn oil (a high smoke point oil), more or less depending on how many chips you are making
  • Corn tortillas (get the standard kind, not the super fancy kind), each tortilla will make 6 chips, 12 tortillas will yield 72 chips, a good snack for 2 to 3 people
  • Kosher salt

1 Pre heat oven to 350°F. Cut the tortillas into wedges.

2 Spread the tortilla wedges out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake the tortilla wedges for about 6 minutes, then use tongs to turn the wedges over. Sprinkle with a little salt, and bake for another 6 to 9 minutes, until they are just beginning to color.  Remove from the oven and let cool. Sprinkle with more salt to serve.

Snacking can be healthier than this, and I usually keep around trail food that makes a handful of good nutrition for when I just want to gobble up something that tastes good and doesn’t require much time.    Basically, it’s nuts, seeds and dried fruit, and whatever interesting nibble I’ve come across recently such as yogurt covered pretzels.

When chips are the ideal, you can even find baked potato chips and probably could do them yourself, but I’ve put up what appears to me as an ideal snack.   Occasionally, though, I’m also going to have a handful of the greasy fried variety.

(Picture courtesy of Tod Shirley at

chip coma

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.