As I mentioned in my first post, the inspiration for this blog was a recent conversation with my grandma. That conversation was about kale – riveting, I know. Well Grandma, this one’s for you.
My husband hates vegetables. When I first met him, he would gag at the site of a cucumber. True story. For you other vegetable haters out there I’m going to share a little of his philosophy – if you gotta eat ’em, make it count. No nutritionally empty celery here, go big or go home. Meet Kale.
Kale is the season’s hottest vegetable. If kale had a twitter, I’m pretty sure it would rival Bieber. I’ve read articles about how the food industry cannot keep up with the nation’s growing addiction to kale. If you’re new to the kale scene, here’s the skinny on why everyone is Krazy about Kale (that was silly), as well as my favorite ways to eat kale.
- Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat.
- Kale is high in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef.
- Kale is high in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting.
- Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect against various cancers.
- Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food. It helps fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
- Kale is great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels.
- Kale is high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is great for your vision and your skin, as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Kale is high in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility.
- Kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
- Kale is a great detox food. Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.
There are 3 varieties that you might come across at the grocery store: Curly Green, Lacinato and Red. Lacinato goes by many different names. You might hear it called Dinosaur, Dino, Black, Tuscan – they’re all the same.
Curly Green is by the far the most popular. You’ll see this variety on shelves in nearly every grocery store. This kind has a bitter, pungent flavor and is best used for kale chips, chopped up in soups or omelets, or my favorite, blended in green smoothies.
Red is similar in texture and flavor to it’s green cousin. Anything you use Curly Green in, you can substitute Red. By the way, whoever named it Red was color blind. It’s purple.
Lacinato is the second most common. You’ll be able to pick out this variety by it’s dark, long, flat leaves. If you’re going to eat kale raw, this is the one to use. It’s slightly sweeter and more delicate than it’s curly cousins.
My favorite ways to eat Kale:
Even my carnivore of a husband will eat a handful of these delicious, salty “chips”.
- 1 bunch Curly Green or Red kale
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Salt to taste I usually sprinkle 1/2 – 3/4 tsp.
Wash and de-rib your kale. An easy way to do this is hold your leaf upside down, grab the end of the stem with one hand, pull your other hand down the rib to tear the leaf off. Make sure to dry your kale in a salad spinner, or simply use some paper towels.
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Tear kale into 1 1/2 – 2″ pieces. Add kale to a bowl and toss with olive oil and salt. You do not want your kale to be soggy!
Lay kale on a baking sheet. I line mine with parchment paper for easy clean-up, but it’s not necessary.
Bake 10-15 minutes until kale is brown on the edges, but not burnt. Watch closely!
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True Food Kitchen’s Kale Salad
This is my favorite way to eat raw kale. A simple salad of Lacinato kale, lemon, and parmesan. I adore this salad. The salad that True Food Kitchen serves uses bread crumbs, I prefer slivered almonds. Never be afraid to substitute ingredients and make it your own.
- 1 bunch Lacinato Kale (ribs removed, and leaves torn into small bite sized pieces)
- juice of one lemon
- 3-4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove (or 2 small), mashed and chopped
- pinch of salt
- pinch of red pepper flakes (I LOVE red pepper, so I’m a little heavy handed)
- 2/3 cup finely grated parmesan (plus a little more for garnish)
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Set aside. In a salad bowl, add your greens. Pour your dressing over the kale to coat – I usually use about 3/4 of the mixture. Toss the kale until all the leaves have a nice coat on them. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 10 – 30 min. Time for a taste test. If it needs more dressing, I add it here. A lot of times, I’ll squeeze a little more lemon over the top. Add your grated cheese and almonds, toss again. If you want a pretty presentation, garnish with cheese shavings.
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Cover any leftovers and refrigerate for up to 2 days. The great thing about this salad is it gets even better overnight! Because kale is so fibrous, it doesn’t get soggy like most greens.
If you’re unsure about greens, like the carnivore I live with, start small. Start by chopping them up and adding them to your morning omelet, hide them in enchiladas, or use them in stuffed peppers. If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, the kale chips above are a great introduction. Seriously, try them!
Small changes add up to big results.