We crown kale the new “king of the greens.” Why? Well, it’s the most nutritious plant food in the grocery store. Up until recently, kale was that garnish on your plate at a restaurant. You know, the one that you threw out or that the chef used to make the meat or seafood display look nice? Not anymore! Whether you prefer it raw in a salad or smoothie, sautéed as a simple side dish or baked into the ever so popular kale chips, it is the new trendy green. It boasts an extensive nutrition profile with so many rich vitamins and nutrients that other greens can’t even begin to compare to.
A Short Biography
Kale, along with other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts all belong to the Brassica group. Humans started growing it more than 2,000 years ago, originating in the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor. It is a hardy and resilient plant that is fairly easy to grow. Grow it in the fall months to produce greens with a sweet, nutty flavor after exposure to a light frost.
The Many Types
There are many different types of kale grown which are available to consumers at your local grocery store or farmers market year round. The method of cooking and flavor you are searching for will all determine and help guide what variety you choose.
- Curly kale is the most common variety of kale with its characteristic woody stem and bright green, crinkly leaves with a slightly bitter taste. To remove the woody stems, simply hold the stem end with one hand and grab the leaves between your thumb and forefinger. Pull back and away along the stem to remove the leaves from both sides. The leaves can be used for salads, tossed into soup or blended into a smoothie.
- Lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale has dark blue-green slender leaves with an “embossed texture” and is an ingredient traditionally found in Italian cuisine, especially minestrone soup. This versatile green is more tender than curly kale with a slightly sweet taste that is great either in a pasta dish or soup or served raw in a salad or slaw.
- Red kale, also referred to as red Russian kale is visually appealing with its purple stems and leaves ranging from blue-green to purple-red. The colder weather intensifies its color. The stems can be tough so it is best to toss them in the compost pile. Red kale has a nutty flavor and is slightly sweeter in taste than curly kale. It is commonly used in salads or lightly sautéed as it is so tender.
No matter the variety you choose, kale packs a punch with a surplus of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidant polyphenols.
- A serving size is 1 cup of chopped raw kale which rings in at a mere 28 calories.
- It supplies almost 150% of your daily value of Vitamin C which as an antioxidant, reduces oxidative damage and supports healthy skin.
- It has vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene as well as carotenoids all necessary for good eye health.
- Kale is one of the best sources of vitamin K critical for blood clotting with a serving containing nearly 600% of your daily value.
- It is a great plant based source of calcium as well as magnesium and does contain a small amount of potassium.
So, as the slogan goes, “Eat More Kale!”
Try This Recipe for Sautéed Kale
Looking for a simple, yet delicious way to include kale in your diet?
Try this month’s featured recipe for sautéed kale. The recipe couldn’t be easier and pairs nicely with any grilled meat, fish or alongside a poached egg. Besides the kale, the ingredients are typical pantry staples many of us already have. If you decide to use young, baby kale, the stems will be tender enough to eat when cooked otherwise strip the stems from the leaves and use only the leaves. The splash of vinegar at the end adds a nice acidic note that pairs nicely with the garlic.
- 1 1/2lbyoung kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
- 3Tbspolive oil
- 2cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 1/2cupvegetable stock or water
- Salt and pepper
- 2Tbspred wine vinegar
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add garlic and cook until soft, but not colored.
- Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combined.
- Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.