Food 101: KaleKale is a beautiful dark leafy green vegetable that packs a huge nutritional punch and has been recently increasing in popularity with some calling it the “queen of the greens”. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable and is part of the same family of vegetables as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. It is easy to grow and is unique among green vegetables as it can be found in the grocery store year round but is actually tastiest in the colder months after frost. There are many different varieties of kale including: curly, dinosaur, Tuscan and even kale with deep purple coloured leaves. Health Benefits Kale is an extremely nutrient dense food and is full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants essential for good health. These nutrients are also instrumental in the prevention of chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.Vitamin K
- A fat soluble vitamin essential for making proteins that help blood to clot when you are bleeding and is also involved in making proteins for your blood, bones and kidneys.
- Recommended intake for vitamin K for females is 90mcg/day and 120mcg/day for males. Kale (1 cup raw) provides 547mcg.
- A fat soluble vitamin important for normal day and night vision, normal growth and development and promoting a healthy immune defense system and reproductive system.
- Recommended intake for vitamin A for females is 700mcg/day and for males is 900mcg/day. Kale (1cup raw) provides an amazing 3100mcg!
- A water soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant and is important for proper wound healing, infection prevention and helps our bodies to absorb iron better.
- Recommended intake for vitamin C for females is 75mcg/day and for males is 90mcg/day. Kale (1 cup raw) provides 80mcg.
- It may seem surprising that something other than dairy products has calcium but kale is also a good source of calcium which is important for proper bone and tooth formation, blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve transmission.
- Recommended intake for calcium for both males and females is 1000-1200mg/day. Kale (1 cup raw) provides 100mg of calcium.
- Fibre is important for keeping your bowels regular and healthy and is beneficial to help to lower your blood cholesterol levels and keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Recommended intake for fibre is 25-30g/day and 1 cup of raw kale provides about 3g of fibre.
How to select and store
Look for kale in the grocery store or market that is deep in colour (green or purple) with mostly hard stems. The leaves should be firm, not wilted and free from signs of browning, yellowing and small holes. Store fresh kale in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible for about 5-7 days. Only wash kale just prior to use as exposure to water increases spoilage.
How to prepare
Wash kale under cold water, remove leaves from the hard stem and rip leaves into smaller pieces. The simplest way to prepare kale is to steam in a steamer pot filled with about 2 inches of water for about 5 minutes- this helps to remove the bitter taste and gives kale a softer texture. Studies have also shown that steaming kale helps to increase its cholesterol lowering properties. Due to its firm texture kale also stands up well to being sautéed, baked and used in soups and stews.
Another way to remove the bitterness and firm texture is to drizzle with ½ tsp of olive oil and massage kale with your hands for a couple of minutes. This helps to break down the hard cellulose structure and makes it a great option for lighter salads.
Different ways to use kale
- Add it to your salads- use the massaging method above to prepare your kale and add it to any salad you usually make.
- Add kale to your soups and stews- as I mentioned above, kale is sturdy and can stand up to heat so add kale to your soups and stews to pack them with a nutrition punch!
- Add it to a smoothie- add some kale to your favorite smoothie recipes and a high speed blender will break down the kale and give your smoothies a lovely bright green colour.
- Kale chips- rip kale from the hard stems into small pieces, wash and dry leaves well. Place kale leaves onto a baking pan and massage with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with ground pepper and any spices you like. Bake at 300°F for 25-30min until dried and crispy, turning once mid-way (watch closely because kale can burn quickly).
- Simply sauté it!- Add kale, a small amount of olive oil, two cloves of garlic minced, a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice and sauté it until cooked and slightly wilted. This is a delicious and nutritious side dish to have any night
Kale, cranberry and walnut salad
This kale salad has a delicious contrast between the sour lemon and sweet cranberries and the basil and mint add a subtle delicious fresh flavor burst!
Adapted from “Shockingly Delicious” kale salad recipe
Serves 4 as a side salad
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 3/4 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
- Freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups finely chopped Tuscan kale, stems removed
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- ½ cup diced cherry tomatoes
- Add all dressing ingredients to a small measuring cup and whisk until combined.
- Into a medium size bowl put kale, cranberries, walnuts, mint, basil leaves, carrots and cherry tomatoes.
- Add dressing and toss salad well to combine.
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