Kale. Love it or hate it, it seems that this hot vegetable has not only become a huge staple in California cuisine but around the world. More and more people are learning the benefits of adding kale to their diet and finding ways to cook this versatile green that they enjoy. That’s because whether you steam, sauté, grill, roast, blend, or simply chop it up and add to a salad- it’s delicious, healthy and fresh. This leafy green may have gained popularity over recent years, but its been around since ancient times and now that’s it’s finally gotten the recognition it deserves, it’s here to stay. Let us open the minds of those of you who have yet to fall in love with this heroic vegetable and reassure those of you who are already on the Kale train, why it’s the best.
Let’s start with what exactly kale is. If you’ve ever done any research or read up on anything kale related, chances are you have stumbled across the word cruciferous. Or how about words like antioxidant, absorbable calcium, fibrous or nutrients? They all sound great and important when it comes to your health and keeping your body in check, but what exactly do they mean? Let’s break down just what this rare vegetable is all about and how it can do the body right.
The fact that kale is referred to and classified as a cruciferous vegetable means that it is related and a part of the cabbage family. If you’ve ever taken a second to observe this veggie, you’ll notice that it has sturdy stems running through its thick leaves and you can begin to imagine that cabbage could be a distant (less loved) cousin. It also falls under the category of an antioxidant, which is a fancy word for something that removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents from our bodies. That means it has properties in it that go in and fight off those bad guys who want to turn our cells into something evil that can make us sick. All in a days work for kale, though, and don’t worry – its redeeming qualities don’t end there. It also possesses phytonutrients, which are little agents that go in and get rid of any inflammation we might have.
What about all my drinkers out there? There’s hope for us yet if you let a little green in your life. A serving of kale can improve the function of our livers and help us detox all the bad stuff that comes along with the fun. Or maybe you’re feeling stressed about the new job promotion or closing a big deal? Wouldn’t hurt to munch on some kale, which has actually been proven to protect our brain from stress. For all those kiddies out there who might not be getting enough milk for those bones, a tasty kale smoothie can swoop in and save the day. Just one serving of kale has more calcium than a carton of milk, and once they try our delicious and easy recipe, they’ll be begging for more.
If all this knowledge that has been dropped about kale hasn’t convinced you to open your mind, stomachs, and hearts to this fan favorite then maybe the fact that it also contains minerals such as iron, manganese, potassium, phosphorus and copper will. If you’re still not sold and you don’t care how powerful it can be for our bodies because you hate the taste, then this next section is for you.
When diving into new foods, we find it’s best to ease into these things and allow your taste buds to get acquainted. Kale, in its raw state, can be difficult to enjoy at first, even for a seasoned vegetable vet like myself. Its leaves are strong and dry so simply ripping off a couple of pieces and tossing it in dressing isn’t going to do the trick if you’re just coming around to the idea of it. But fear not! That’s one of the other wonderful things about kale- it’s versatile and easy once you know what you’re doing. Also, a good first thing to remember when preparing it is that you want to take the large stems that run down the center of the leaves out and simply work with the good stuff. After that easy step, you’ll find it easier to work with and left with evenly cooking pieces to ensure a balanced dish. Here are two of our favorite ways to utilize kale and all its goodness. They are sure to get you started on your path to kale-ness.
Combine into the blender:
- 1 banana
- 1 cup chopped apple
- 2 cups chopped kale
- ½ milk of your choice, we prefer almond!
- 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, agave nectar, OR honey
Blend and enjoy this simple, yet delicious smoothie. The sweetness of the fruit will match perfectly with the kale, and it can go to work without your kids (or you) suspecting a thing.
- 2 bundles of kale
- Olive oil
Remove the stem from the leaves of kale (of course) and then give all those leaves a rough chop. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or other pan and turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Drizzle the kale with olive oil on the sheet and season with garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne for a little kick. Cook the kale, occasionally tossing, for about 25-30 minutes or until you notice it get crunchy. Roasting and turning it into chips gives the kale an entirely different texture and taste that you’re sure to love.