Move over Popeye's spinach and make room for the latest greens rage, kale. Also known as borecole, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. A leafy green available in a variety of shapes and hues of green and gray, kale belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
While Americans may be discovering the superpowers of kale, the leafy green has always been popular in different cultures around the world and its dense nutritional qualities celebrated in festivals and tours.
A whole culture around kale exists in north-western Germany. There, most social clubs hold events or meetings, such as, a Grunkohlessen or Kohlfahrt or a "kale tour" between October and February. Most communities in the area also have a yearly kale festival which includes naming a "kale king" or queen. In Scotland, kale is such a staple of traditional diet the word "kale" is synonymous with food. And to be "off one's kail" is to feel too ill to eat.
During World War II, the United Kingdom's Dig for Victory campaign encouraged backyard growers to include kale in plantings because its nutritional value was needed to counter the deficiencies and effects of rationing. Because kale is a cold season crop and overwinters well in some areas, one variety is called Hungry Gap named after the period in winter when few other crops are available.
Kale is a superstar vegetable the world over and has been for many centuries because it's high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and rich in calcium. As with broccoli and other brassicas, kale contains sulforaphane, a potent anti-cancer nutrient. It is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and blocks the growth of cancer cells. Kale has been found to lower cholesterol and decrease absorption of dietary fat.
Yes. The Environmental Working Group has classified the top ten foods to always eat organic, and while kale is not in the top ten, it IS classified as HIGHLY TOXIC due to organophosphate insecticides used on the crops. For more on which foods to purchase organic
Go to the EWG website and review the shopper's guides available there. Go to www.ewg.org.
Research shows that boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane in kale; however, steaming or stir frying does not result in significant loss. Steaming actually increases the green's bile acid binding properties. Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost.
"Kale is a superstar vegetable the world over and has been for many centuries because it's high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and is rich in calcium."
Kale chips are really popular in health food stores, but also really expensive. You can make your own kale chips in minutes and customize their flavor by adding your favorite spices.
A simple recipe is as follows:
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add broth, kale and tomatoes (and fresh carrots, if using) and cover. Cook for 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Add beans and carrots and heat thoroughly. Serve hot.
Bring the quinoa and 1 1/3 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Place kale in a steamer basket over 1 inch of boiling water in a saucepan. Cover saucepan with a lid and steam kale until hot, about 45 seconds; transfer to a large plate. Top kale with quinoa, avocado, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and feta cheese.
Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, sea salt, and black pepper together in a bowl until the oil emulsifies into the dressing; pour over the salad.