Most people hear the word kale and either don’t know what it is, or they do know what it is and make a face that indicates disgust. What people don’t know is that it has a tremendous amount of nutritional value and tastes delicious, too. It is versatile and can be prepared in many ways.
Kale, also known as borecole, is a type of cabbage, which is part of the cruciferous vegetable family. There are both green and purple types. Other, more familiar vegetables of this family are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
Kale has proven to lower cholesterol as well as to reduce the risk of five different types of cancer – bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate. It can also help with the body’s detoxification process. The isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from kale’s glucosinolates help to eliminate toxins from the body.
One cup of raw kale contains only 36 calories with a whopping 5 grams of fiber, 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 and 200% of Vitamin C. Kale is also high in beta-carotene and Vitamin K.
The great thing about kale is that its peak season is during the cooler months, making it a perfect winter vegetable. When choosing kale, look for firm and dark colored leaves with thick stems. Store it in an air-tight plastic bag in the refrigerator, where it will keep for five days.
Kale can be eaten raw, steamed or sautéed. It has a mild taste but can be slightly bitter. Here are some ways to enjoy kale:
- Use it in a salad with toppings of your choosing and your favorite dressing.
- Add it to whole-grain pasta with pine nuts, feta cheese and a little olive oil.
- Sauté with olive oil and garlic, then season with salt and pepper.
- Make kale chips by slicing kale into bite-size pieces, drizzling with olive oil, and sprinkling with salt, pepper, garlic or onion powder, cayenne pepper, or even cheese! Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
- Steam or braise it, then add any mix-ins such as apples, chopped walnuts, raisins, dates, avocados, tomatoes, or balsamic vinegar.
- Use in omelets or frittatas.
Many people have never heard of kale or know nothing about it, but for those who want to be healthy, it is a vegetable that should be eaten frequently. So, if you’re sick of eating broccoli and Brussels sprouts to meet your vegetable requirement, try kale and you are likely to be pleasantly surprised!
By Emily Borgeest