Wednesday, January 26

Food Spotlight: Kale

I fell in love with kale fifteen years ago after trying a recipe from Food & Wine magazine. A slightly bitter, green, leafy vegetable, I liked its tartness and ability to hold its own against the pungent Asian dressing the recipe called for. But those attributes are also its downfall.

It’s bitter, although not as much as collard greens. And it’s tough, literally. The leaves are more similar in texture to cabbage than lettuce, which at the time was surprising to me, but it shouldn’t have been. Kale is after all, part of the cabbage family.

Even though I liked kale, I only prepared it for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. For some reason it never became a staple in my house. It was put on a pedestal along with sausage stuffing, butternut squash soufflé, and pumpkin cheesecake, only to be consumed once, maybe twice a year.

At a recent dinner party I was served a delicious salad featuring raw kale and I began to reconsider my position on this vegetable. Who knew it could part of your daily diet? It never occurred to me to think of it as a substitute for lettuce. 

After researching the nutritional qualities of kale it’s clear we should be eating more of it. Actually, we should practically bathe in the stuff. Like its cousin broccoli, it’s ridiculously healthy for you.

One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Did you get that? All that goodness IN ONE CUP!
Additionally, its high concentration of carotenoids and flavonoids, two types of antioxidants, have linked kale consumption with a reduced risk of bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate cancer.
Okay, I'm now convinced.
A special note about vitamin K.
Too much vitamin K can be a problem for people taking anticoagulants such as Warfarin (also called Coumadin, Jantoven and Marfarin). High levels of vitamin K may interfere with these drugs. If you’re taking these drugs or similar ones, consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet.
While you can find kale year round, it’s a cold weather vegetable and at its freshest now.
Look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. The smaller leaves will be more tender and milder in flavor.
Store it, unwashed, in an airtight plastic bag for up to five days in the refrigerator. 

Here are two easy recipes to get you started.

Kale Chips (This one I’m dying to try. I’ve been told it’s fantastic.)

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