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April 1, 2012 at 3:17 PMComments: 5 Faves: 1

GET TO KNOW: Kale

By Jessica Corwin MPH RDN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Dietitian's Dish Blog Series

When it comes to kale, I have been asked the same set of questions by enough friends and family members...

What does it taste like?

What the heck do you do with it?

Do you have any recipes?

Clearly there is a widespread feeling of confusion and intimidation surrounding this leafy green! The rich shades of green coating the coarse leaves are certainly enough to intimidate the best of us, especially those growing up with an aversion to all things green. Though I promise you that once you break past your chlorolachanophobia (my hybrid for a fear of green veggies), your bravery will be rewarded with a surprisingly delightful flavor

The Super Green Superfood

Rich in Beta-Carotene, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Fiber, Lutein and Calcium.

If ever there were a superfood, kale would definitely be atop the list!

Kale, much like other leafy greens, is bursting with nutrition. It is rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body, boosts our immune system, and is good for our eyes. Vitamin K is yet another reason to add kale to your plate as it is good for your bones and heart. Kale is also packed with vitamin C, fiber, lutein, and calcium, making it a winner on all counts.

To best absorb the vitamin A and K, it is best to enjoy kale with a bit of fat; perhaps oil and vinegar on a salad, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) on your kale chips, or sprinkled with pumpkin seeds.

No matter how you eat your kale, the nutrition will find its way to your body and benefit you more than it would if you chose to skip out on this tasty green!

How To Use It

Blanched, Boiled, Sauted or Baked. Raw Rubbed with Oil. Paired with Similarly Strong Flavors.

When you first bite into a leaf of kale you will find that it is stronger in flavor than curly spinach, both in taste and texture. The taste can be a bit bitter when raw. Though just as there are varying flavors among the world of spinach, kale also presents with a few options. If the flavor is a bit much for you or if you would like to ease your way into this green veggie, the curly types (light green or dark purple) tend to be a bit more pungent than the lacinato (aka. dinosaur kale) or baby kales. This is why many people choose to blanch, boil, saut, or bake their kale.

If you are dining on kale in its natural raw state, I recommend massaging the oils into the leaves as it truly seems to infuse the flavor while also tenderizing the leaves. And finally, kale tastes absolutely divine paired with an equally strong flavor such as citrus or winter squash as a means of balancing the flavor profile.

Most recipes call for the leaves only, so run your hand down the stems to pull them away from the stem. (As shown above) If youre not a hands on chef and prefer to keep your hands clean in the kitchen (whats the fun in that?), you can definitely opt for kitchen shears to trim the stems instead.

I like to wrap my kale leaves up nice and tight, squeezing out all of the water leftover from their bath.

Here are a few of my all-time favorite ways to enjoy kale:

#1. Butternut Squash Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seeds


"Their chef Sarah LaCasse, at heart a mom, knew exactly whatus weary travelers needed. All of her dishes were simple, yet deeply satisfying. One of our favorites that night wasSkillet Butternut Squash and Kale With Maple-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, a recipe we offer here"

Recipe HEREfrom Three Many Cooks!

#2. Green Smoothies


"Heres a pleasingcombination for a green smoothie kale and pineapple,with the added cleansing benefit of cucumber. Prepare to be refreshed and hydrated! This makes about two 12-ounce servings."

Recipe HERE from VegKitchen!

#3. Soup Stuffer


"Kale lends a beautiful green color to this silky cauliflower soup. A garnish of crispy kale chips and pine nuts adds a satisfying crunch."

Recipe HERE from Williams Sonoma!

#4. Sautee Away


"With only a few ingredients, this recipe can be made very quickly. Kale is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I like to serve sauted kale over cooked quinoa with two fried pastured eggs for breakfast. I usually add a whole, diced avocado to the meal too which is helpful for making rich breast milk. Serve this recipe as part of a balanced dinner. It goes well with beans and rice or grilled fish. Our children love this recipe, especially when I add chopped mushrooms! This recipe is also suitable for all phases of theElimination Diet."

Recipe HERE from Nourishing Meals!

#5. Strawberry Kale Granola Delight


"Raw kale, chopped strawberries and radishes, and crumbled goat cheese tossed in a tangy lemon dressing. Top that with savory, nutty granola "crouton" clusters for a hearty and healthy meal in a bowl. The recipe below yields enough salad for two full-sized portions or four side salads, and plenty of leftover granola croutons for future salads."

Recipe HERE from Cookie and Kate!

#6. Kale Chips


"Here is where the story gets crazy. These kale chips taste all sorts of nacho cheesy, but theyre entirely cheeseless. In fact, theyre completely healthful! The cheese flavor comes from a mixture of tahini and nutritional yeast. I knowwhat an actual mind blow!"

Recipe HERE from The Roasted Root!

I could certainly go on and on about this nutrition super star, but I will take a break and allow you to share your thoughts instead. After answering others questions about kale, I now have a question for you! So, please quench my curiosity by answering my one and only question

What is YOUR favorite way to enjoy kale?

Kale is in season and ripe for the picking, so head on down to your farmers market and pick up some greens today!

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5 Comments

  • Laura has an amazing photo blog of the kale chip process:
    http://www.hellolife.net/eating-healthy/b/lauras-culinary-adventures-kale-chips/

    I still need to try these out. Been stuck on potato kale soup ever since we first made it. If kale is in the house, it either goes in the soup or in a tomato and cheese wrap.

  • From Laura's blog is where I experimented with kale chips on my own too and they were very good. Only bought kale twice so far, but each of those times it was delicious.

  • Baking kale is a great place to start as it is one of the easiest recipes around and completely transforms the flavor. I'm thrilled to hear that you have been doing a bit of experimenting in your own kitchens. If you are a fan of the chip-style veggies, you will have to try parsnip chips next... my latest favorite!

    Sprouty, I am also a fan of potato kale soup during the cooler months :)

  • I've been eating a lot of baby kale lately - putting in my Nutri bullet drinks. Okay, so may eating is a strong word, I should say drinking. I hope that baby kale is as nutritious as the grown up version!

  • Love to hear that, Nancy! And guess what? The baby or immature varieties of leafy greens may actually be even more beneficial to our health than the larger, mature varieties as the enzymes and micronutrients are more viable and able to do their jobs better. Great news for your baby kale addition! Enjoy!

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