ALL HAIL KALE!

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Kale – beautiful and nutritious.

Let’s talk about kale shall we? A proud member of the cabbage family, kale is a righteous superfood just waiting to get inside your God pod and fill it full of wondrous vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Kale packs a wicked nutritious punch. One cup raw kale has only 33 calories, no fat or cholesterol and provides 6% of your RDA for iron, 9% of calcium, 134% or Vitamin C, 206% of Vitamin A and an incredible 684% of Vitamin K! According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming a diet rich in vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer. Vitamin K is necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions, including normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity, and bone health.

Kale is also a good source of dietary fiber, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin B6, potassium, copper and manganese. The fiber content of the lovely cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.

So, with all these fabulous vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you’d be crazy not to incorporate more kale into your diet! Here’s how to pick it, store it, prep it, and eat it:

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When selecting go for firm, dark and richly colored leaves.

SELECTION

Kale is a cool weather vegetable. It can be found throughout the year in most markets, but its season runs from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring. When shopping for kale look for firm, dark and richly colored leaves (bluish-green or darker) with no yellowing or holes in the leaves. The steams should be hardy and moist. Smaller leaves tend to be more tender and have a milder flavor. In order to avoid harmful pesticides used during the growing of kale, choose organic!

STORAGE

Never wash kale before storing, this causes the leaves to go limp. It will last for several days in the refrigerator, but try to use it within 1 or 2 days after purchase. The longer it sits, the more bitter the leaves. Remove any excess moisture and store in an air-tight plastic bag.

Kale freezes well and actually will taste sweeter and more flavorful afterward. To freeze for a long period, blanch the leaves in boiling water for about 2 minutes, or until the leaves turn a bright green. Place in a colander and run under cold water. Remove any excess water by patting dry with a towel or set leaves out to dry in the open air. Place in freezer bags or other container. When needed, remove as many leaves as needed and thaw to room temperature.

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Wash kale only when ready to eat or cook, never before.

PREPARATION

To prepare your kale for eating wash the leaves in a sink full of water to remove any dirt. If the stems are very small and tender they can be cooked with the leaves. Stems that are thick, but still tender, can be cut off and cooked for a minute or two before leaves are added. Any thick, tough stalks should be discarded.

QUICK KALE TIPS

Quick cooking preserves kale’s nutrients, texture, color, and flavor. Chopped kale can be added to salads, soups, smoothies, stews, stir-frys, salads, casseroles or even as a topping for pizza. Substitute kale for spinach or collard greens in recipes.

  • Create a simple and delicious salad with a bunch of thinly sliced kale, red pepper, onion, raisins, and your favorite salad dressing.
  • Braise some chopped kale, add sliced apples, garnish with chopped walnuts, and add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Toss whole-grain pasta with chopped kale, pine nuts, feta cheese, and a little olive oil.
  • Cover and cook a pound of chopped kale with a few garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes; season with salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar.

FIVE SIMPLE KALE RECIPES

Crispy Kale Chips

North African Chickpea And Kale Soup

Summer Tomato Crostata with Kale Pesto

Sweet and Savory Kale

Kale, Carrot and Avocado Salad

Note: Kale contains oxalates, a naturally occurring substance that can interfere with the absorption of calcium. So, avoid eating calcium-rich foods like dairy at the same time as kale to prevent any problems.

*Statements on this web site are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.

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Recipes from our Return To Roots Gathering

February’s gathering was a great one. We were joined by the dynamic and engaging Executive Chef Cathryn Matthes from Delisheee Yo. If you aren’t familiar, Delisheee Yo is located on Hilton Head. She began as a yogurt/smoothie shop but has quickly expanded to include lunch, Super Food snacks, and organic juices.  They also make and sell their own Kombucha. We were treated to a spring roll demonstration and taste test and a short how-to of making Kombucha. We are hoping to have her back this month for an actual Kombucha demonstration.

Chef Cathryn demonstrating making vegetarian spring rolls:

Kombucha (yum!)

Now to the recipes…The food was amazing as usual. But with a packed house, we had quite the vegan and vegetarian spread. I won’t have all of the recipes here, but if you see something that you are interested in, post it in the comments and I will try to track down the recipe.

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Other recipes:

Adrienne’s Cucumber Salad
Solyanka (Vegetable Casserole)

No-Bake Vegan Chia Cheesecake

Happy Cooking!  Next meeting 3/24/12–Look for flyer this week!