I’m always encouraging my clients to eat their vegetables. But beyond adding a salad to dinner, most are uncertain as to how to go about filling half their plate with veggies. Not only are they unfamiliar with many of the vegetables they see at the grocery store, they have no idea how to prepare them.
Kale or borecole is a form of cabbage (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group), green or purple, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. The species Brassica oleracea contains a wide array of vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. The cultivar group Acephala also includes spring greens and collard greens, which are extremely similar genetically.
Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties; kale is considered to be anti-inflammatory.
Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium.
Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties. Boiling decreases the level of the cancer compounds; however, steaming, microwaving, or stir frying do not result in significant loss Along with other brassica vegetables, kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. Kale is also a good source of carotenoids.
Not bad for a bunch of greens, eh?
So now that we know that kale is good for us (and we should eat it several times a week), how about some kale recipes highlighting its versatility?
Kale pesto (courtesy of ChooseHealthyFood.com)
- 3 tightly packed cups fresh kale rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil
- 1/2 cup toasted or raw sunflower seeds
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 clove fresh garlic
- 1/4 fresh oregano or basil
- sea salt to taste
Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse until combined. If necessary, add a bit of water to thin the mixture out.
Serve as a dip, a spread, a salad dressing or toss with whole grain pasta.
- 1 cup tightly packed fresh kale per person
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- 1-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 chopped onion (red or white, your choice)
- 1 cup assorted veggies, sliced or julienned (I like zucchini and red peppers with kale)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
Heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and zucchini. Cook until onions are translucent and zucchini tender crisp; about 5 min. Add crushed garlic and red peppers, stirring frequently for 3 to 5 min. Add balsamic vinegar, cranberries and kale, continuing to stir for another 5-7 min. Toss with pine nuts (if adding). Serve hot as an accompaniment to fish or poultry.
Kale chips (a Clean Eating recipe)
- 3 cups tightly packed, washed and dried kale
- 1/4 cup olive oil or melted coconut oil or avocado oil
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
In a large bowl, toss kale with oil and salt to lightly coat. Spread mixture on a cookie sheet with leaves in a single layer. Bake, in an oven pre-heated to 375 F, for 10-15 minutes, or until crispy and edges of leaves are slightly brown. Enjoy hot, as a side dish or cooled, as a snack. You can also substitute parmesan or asiago cheese for the salt; be careful when cooking not to let the chips burn.
Bet you can’t eat just one!
What are your favourite kale recipes?