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April 16, 2011 at 1:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Seasonal Eating: Kale

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

Kale is a highly nutritious antioxidant-packed vegetable that is completely under- appreciated. Chock full of deliciousness, including 18 vitamins and 10 minerals, kale is high on the chart when it comes to healthy stuff. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, kale, brassica oleracea var. acephala, is considered a superfood and one that should be enjoyed on a regular basis. If you are at an impasse, wondering where and how to include kale in your diet, how about adding it to your baked bean recipe or to a hot steaming pot of mashed potatoes?

Kale: The Forgotten Veggie

By definition, kale is cabbage that does not form a head, but in reality kale is so much more than a simple cabbage. The sad truth is that more than 67,000 acres of kale are grown annually in the United States and yet this wonderful plant is often relegated to the edge of the plate in the guise of garnish. Though Americans tend to ignore this wonderful plant, kale is very versatile and should be explored relentlessly for its wonderful nutritional properties as well as its taste and texture on the dinner table.

Nutritional Benefits of Kale

Kale is low in fat but high in protein, and that's a good thing for anyone searching for a new healthy diet food. As a superfood, kale brings manganese and vitamin K, fiber, cancer-fighting sulforaphane compounds such asisothiocyanates (ITCs) and plenty of vitamins and minerals to the table. What's more, kale is so versatile it can take a backseat to other veggies and appear on the plate as a simple yet tasty garnish, or entertain the taste buds with star quality when served as the main dish. It's easy to grow in a backyard garden and readily found in the produce section of your favorite grocery store.

Cooking With Kale

Kale goes well as a vegetable alongside any meat dish and also is great when incorporated into a variety of stews, casseroles and salads. For a nutritious lunch, toss kale into your next garden salad or create a luscious stand-alone kale salad such as the one below.

Spicy Kale Salad

Ideal for colder weather, this kale salad is a hearty change from iceberg varieties.

Ingredients: Kale leaves (wash, remove ribs and chop), 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon or orange juice, 1 teaspoon chili (can substitute for 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes,1/2 cup pine nuts. Optional: 1/2 cup dried cherries, or cranberries, or fresh apple, or mango bits

Directions:

  1. Mix the oil and juice together.
  2. Add the chili or pepper flakes and mix well.
  3. Add chopped kale and mix, massaging the leaves with your fingers to infuse the flavors.
  4. Add fruits and nuts according to your own taste and stir well.

Kale Soup

If you're looking for a tasty dinner meal, simply add kale in place of cabbage to your next pot of chicken vegetable soup. The carrots, potatoes, onions and celery flavors combine well with kale to create a robust, delicious soup that won't soon be forgotten. Serve with herbed biscuits.

Sources:

http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/Other/EB03_VegFlav.pdf

http://usagardener.com/how_to_grow_vegetables/how_to_grow_kale.php

http://www.365daysofkale.com/search/label/Recipes

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rikomatic/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/quoimedia/

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