Kale has super health and brain benefits, so do it a favor and prepare it correctly
Kale is becoming increasingly popular, but many are cooking it incorrectly.
Kale has grown in popularity in the last few years, but according to New York Magazine, some fear it’s too popular for its own good. The leafy green is being overused and poorly, at that. If you’re going to do kale, you have to do it right.
“I fear kale backlash. I’ve had some great experiences with kale in the city, and I’ve also had some that are just not a good representation of the plant,” coauthor of Fifty Shades of Kale and 9-year assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, Dr. Drew Ramsey. With its insane and almost unbelievable health benefits, kale just can’t be beat as far as leafy greens goes, hence why Ramsey believes it should be represented properly. “Two cups of kale has only 66 calories, and you’re going to get over 250 percent of your vitamin C, 400 percent of vitamin A, 20 percent of your folate, 10 to 20 percent of your calcium—a great dose of nutrients linked to better brain health,” he added.
That’s not to say some daring things haven’t been done extremely well with kale. Washington Post reminds us that Madison Cowan won Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” with a kale lemon gelato and streusel.
But if you’re going to cook with kale, check here for some ideas on how to do it right.
6 myths you may have heard about kale
The past few years have seen kale rise to star status at farmers' markets and grocery stores. But with great popularity comes major confusion: Is kale actually the greatest leafy green on Earth? Can kale help you lose weight? Or—hold up—might kale actually be harmful to health? Read on as we delve into the claims surrounding this buzzy salad staple and stack them up to the science. Spoiler alert: We have only good things to say!
MYTH: The kale trend is total hype.
FACT: Feel free to skip the trendy “Kale yeah!” T-shirt if it’s not your vibe. Just know the veggie’s nutrition stats are no passing fad. Two cups of kale—about the amount you’d enjoy in a salad—deliver almost all your vitamin A for the day (99% Daily Value from beta-carotene), along with 67% of your vitamin C. You’ll also get 2 g of fiber and protein (about how much you can expect from most veggies), plus smaller yet significant amounts of vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
While no single food can make or break your health, kale is a standout pick to put on your plate. As part of an overall healthy pattern of eating, research has linked the cruciferous veggie and/or its nutrients to a number of potential health benefits:
- Reduced disease risk: Kale is rich in antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative stress and DNA damage, two processes that can increase one’s risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes . Another potential benefit: High consumption of brassica vegetables—a family that includes broccoli and cauliflower alongside kale—was correlated with a decreased incidence of some cancers in a landmark research review published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention .
- Blood pressure regulation: Eating foods that contain potassium , calcium , and magnesium may improve blood pressure levels, studies have shown. While more investigation is needed to pinpoint the effects of kale specifically, many health experts advise eating a diet high in those minerals to help reduce the risk of hypertension .
- Vision protection: Leafy greens such as kale are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin , two nutrients linked to a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, according to a 2013 review in Nutrients . The duo also helps protect ocular tissues from sun damage . And once consumed, kale’s motherlode of beta-carotene converts to vitamin A , which plays a key role in corneal health.
- Better bone health: Kale is a potent source of bone-building vitamin K—2 cups of leafy goodness deliver 293% of your daily recommended intake of this underconsumed nutrient . One large-scale study of women found that adequate vitamin K intake was associated with a reduced risk of hip fracture. And not to be overlooked: 2 cups of kale also contain 6% of the recommended daily value of calcium , another nutrient needed for strong bones.
MYTH: Eating kale every day is dangerous.
FACT: The rumor that kale is harmful to health went viral in 2015 and has been kicking around the Internet ever since. It got started when a self-described vitality researcher in California publicized claims that kale soaks up toxic levels of lead, arsenic, and thallium from soil as it grows, reportedly leading to problems with cognition and other functions for people who eat kale regularly. Though some soil does contain trace amounts of heavy metals and other substances that could be harmful to humans in high amounts, the claims about kale toxicity have never been published in a peer-reviewed journal and are not considered scientifically valid. Just for reference, one study in the Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science found that a typical adult could chow down on 153 pounds of kale daily and still be under the safe limit of lead exposure set by the World Health Organization.
Given that less than 10% of U.S. adults eat the five servings of fruits and veggies a day recommended by public health experts, you probably don’t have to worry about “dangerous” levels of kale. Just one caveat: If you are on a blood-thinning medication, check with your doctor before changing your kale intake. The leafy green’s high levels of vitamin K could interfere with the medication’s effectiveness, which might necessitate a dosage adjustment.
MYTH: Kale is healthier than spinach.
FACT: Hey, there’s no question that kale is pretty great. But nutrition is not a contest, and a healthy diet includes a variety of plant-based foods. Both kale and spinach are low in calories, provide antioxidant benefits, and deliver a unique mix of nutrients. Spinach is slightly higher in magnesium, iron, and folate, which are important for circulation, muscle function, and cognition. Meanwhile, kale delivers much more vitamin C and is a touch higher in calcium and protein. In the end, there’s no reason to pit leafy greens against each other! From spinach and kale to arugula and chard , they all support good health in their own wonderful ways.
MYTH: Kale will help you lose weight.
FACT: Whether celery juice or the alkaline diet , it seems we’re always hearing about some “wellness” trend promising fast and easy weight loss. The truth is, there’s no quick fix. Like other leafy greens, kale is low in calories for its volume (25 calories per 2-cup serving). And for WW members, it’s a ZeroPoint ™ food across myWW+ plans , so you can add it to meals and snacks without worrying about tracking. So, yes: Eating more fruits and vegetables can indeed help with weight management. That said, kale doesn’t have any special ability to boost metabolism or melt pounds. Lasting weight loss generally involves multiple aspects of a person’s lifestyle, including physical activity and healthy patterns of eating.
Related: What to eat when you’re out of SmartPoints®
MYTH: The best way to boost your kale intake is through juices.
FACT: Sure, juicing may seem like a quick and easy way to consume more kale, especially if you don’t love the slightly bitter taste of its leaves. Just know that from a nutritional standpoint, sipping juice isn't quite the same as adding kale to your diet. The juicing process omits the veggie’s pulp—and with it, most of the fiber. Fiber plays a role in helping you feel full after a meal, and research shows that liquids in general don’t promote the same feeling of fullness as solid foods do.
If you’re really craving kale in liquid form, consider making a smoothie instead. The blending process retains the pulp, so you’ll get more fiber than you would with a squeezed juice. Grabbing a commercially bottled kale drink on the go? Check the Nutrition Facts label and opt for a brand with zero grams of added sugar per serving, limited additives, and at least 100% of the Daily Value for vitamins A and C. While you won’t reap the full satiating benefits of whole kale, you might still get some nutritional perks.
MYTH: Raw kale is better for you than cooked.
FACT: Proponents of raw food diets would have you believe that basically all uncooked foods are superior to their cooked versions. This eating style has surged in popularity over the past few years, thanks in part to social media influencers waxing poetic over pretty pics of raw, rainbow-color fruits and veggies.
While research suggests that the heat of cooking can zap some of kale’s antioxidants, flavonoids, and minerals, that doesn’t mean cooked kale is bad—or that raw kale is best for you. For starters, cooked kale is plenty nutritious, retaining its fiber, beta-carotene , and protein . Moreover, eating foods you actually enjoy is important. If you prefer your kale sautéed in a stir-fry vs. shredded raw into a salad, so be it. (Check out these 21 raw and cooked kale recipes for some delicious inspo.) In general, the immense benefits of consuming plants in any form—cooked or raw—outweigh the relatively minor nutrition penalties of cooking.
Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian (RD) and certified dietitian nutritionist (CDN), and holds a bachelor of arts degree from Northwestern University and a master of science degree in clinical nutrition from New York University. WW’s head of nutrition and wellness, London is also the author of Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked): 11 Science-Based Ways to Eat More, Stress Less, and Feel Great About Your Body , and previously served as Good Housekeeping ’s nutrition director.
Nicole Saporita is a senior content manager for consumer wellness at WW. A writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York, she specializes in health & wellness, lifestyle, consumer products, and more. Her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping , Prevention , and REDBOOK magazines.
Tips and Recipes for Growing and Eating Kale
In the last 30 years I’ve been in and out of the Dominican Republic more times than I can count. But it wasn’t until recently—when I built the SOMOS Center and moved here—that I started getting the most out of this beautiful land. And I mean that very literally.
Before last year, I used to return to the United States craving fresh greens. Often, I’d make a beeline straight from the airport to my favorite salad bar. But now that I have my own space, and the Global Roots gardens, I can plant as many organic greens as I want. And trust me, I have. At the moment I have a lot of swiss chard and kale (about 80 plants in total).
Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, jam packed with vitamins A, B6, K, and C.
I’d like to focus today on that kale. Not only because it’s become an important part of my diet, but also because of its increasing popularity among consumers. Business Insider published an article a couple years ago about the explosion in kale consumption and production around the United States, starting around 2012. As for Global Roots, our own boom in production is a more recent phenomenon. I’m currently growing three types of kale in my garden: curly kale, lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan kale), and red kale.
Earn your plant-based nutrition certificate
Kale’s Super Qualities
I’m not really fond of the word “superfood.” It seems to me the label has been so overused that it’s lost all meaning. Let’s stick to specifics:
- Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, jam packed with vitamins A, B6, K, and C.
- It’s rich in manganese, calcium and other important minerals.
- One cup of raw kale contains almost 700% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K!
- It also contains more vitamin C than an orange. And though I’m not here to attack oranges, it’s clear that the marketing teams working for orange juice companies have got a stranglehold on our imaginations.
- Like it’s cruciferous relatives, kale is also an excellent source of antioxidants.
Now—would I call kale a superfood? No, I don’t think I would. If anything, the term doesn’t do justice to my leafy friend.
How to Plant Kale
One of the great things about kale is that it can be grown in most climates, though it does thrive especially well in cooler temperatures. For those who want to plant kale in pots, it’s recommended that your plants receive at least six hours of direct sunlight. However, I think it’s okay if it receives more sunlight. As you know, I’m here in the tropics, and my kale is in the direct sunlight all day and growing like gangbusters.
But let’s back up a bit. First, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll have to germinate the seeds. The easiest way is to tuck your seeds into a moist paper towel, put it in a sandwich bag, and keep it somewhere warm and away from too much direct sunlight. Or you can germinate it like we do here at Global Roots—in seed trays. In the States, I like using biodegradeable and organic seed trays. And remember, it’s important to use rich soil in your trays. In terms of watering, make sure not to overwater. A light sprinkle will do. In short, these seeds need bright light and a steady, moderate supply of water.
While the seeds are germinating, you’ll want to make sure you have a good soil ready to go. It’s important that you use high quality organic fertilizer, even if you have to improvise a bit. Here at the Global Roots gardens, we added soils from an old pig pen and from the cacao forest to our garden beds. Soil from the forest is particularly fertile, as the decomposed cacao pods are really rich. For those who want more info on preparing your soil, please visit The Spruce. They have many great articles on how to prepare rich and healthy soil.
Kale plants, when properly cared for—pruned when necessary, watered carefully, harvested intelligently—can last for months, even years.
Once your seeds have germinated and have reached 2-3 inches, you’ll be ready to plant your kale. After planting, you need to water daily. The best times of day to water are early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Watering in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its most intense, is both wasteful (much of the water will evaporate) and potentially harmful to your plants.
How to Harvest and Maintain a Healthy Kale Plant
When harvesting, always start with the large leaves on the bottom. Make sure to remove the entire leaf, from all the way at the base of the stem. The reason you should pick leaves from the bottom is that new kale leaves grow from the top of the plant. Picking from the top is a lot like jumping the proverbial gun, and not at all good for the long-term health of the plant.
It’s also important that you keep a watchful eye on the bottom leaves, between harvests. If, for example, you notice that the bottom leaves have dried out, make sure to remove them. Taking care of your kale will ensure good harvests, not just once or twice, but throughout the lifecycle of the plant.
How Long Does Kale Last?
I planted my kale 14 months ago and it’s still going strong. And that’s the wonderful thing about having a garden: life is the default setting. You don’t have to prod the earth forcefully to enjoy its rewards you just have to take care. Kale plants, when properly cared for—pruned when necessary, watered carefully, harvested intelligently—can last for months, even years.
I often eat kale several days in a row. There are so many wonderful ways to prepare kale, but here I’m going to share two of my favorite cooked ways to eat kale: Peanutty Greens With Maduras and Sweet Potatoes and Kale and two of my favorite kale salads are the Hearty and Filling Kale Salad and the Simple Kale Salad.
Potential Kale Side Effects
Kale is incredibly healthy. But, there are a few risks to watch out for.
First off, kale is one of the higher risk vegetables for pesticide contamination. According to the Environmental Working Group, kale was the third most at risk fruit or vegetable in terms of pesticide contamination. So, if you purchase non-organic kale, be sure to give it a good wash before eating.
Raw kale is also high in a potentially harmful compound called goitrin, High amounts of goitrin may be harmful to thyroid function and lower iodine levels. However, studies have shown that consuming a moderate amount of raw kale per day is not harmful to thyroid function.
Kale takes the spotlight as foodies hail its health benefits
After years of being relegated through the purgatory of forgotten foods, kale has found itself in the spotlight for the first time in decades and is ready to prove it belongs there permanently. A crop of the ancients, kale has been cultivated for over 2,000 years and was the precursor to modern-day cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. Easy to plant, harvest and propagate, kale was a favorite of both the Romans and the Greeks. The leafy green fell out of favor in many cultures in the last century, as more exotic cruciferous vegetables became popular.
But now, foodies and nutritionists alike are hailing kale, citing its health benefits as well as its culinary versatility.
Kale's nutritional value is impressive. One cup contains 180 percent of the recommended daily does of Vitamin A, 200 percent of Vitamin C, and 1,020 percent of Vitamin K. All three vitamins are antioxidants that help protect the body from certain types of cancer. Kale's unusual amount of vitamin K in particular helps the body with such various functions as blood coagulation and bone health. Kale is also rich in calcium and iron.
Kale's renaissance has been fueled by chefs who have rediscovered this versatile and inexpensive vegetable. Chef Nancy Longo of Pierpoint restaurant in Fells Point has been a fan of the vegetable for years. "People are weird about Brussel sprouts and cabbage," she says, "but are willing to give kale a try." At Pierpoint, Longo uses kale as a side to accompany her rabbit sausage. "Customers are always asking me for extra of the kale," she says, noting that she cooks the greens quickly then tosses them in a shallot and mustard vinaigrette.
Chef John Lyle, executive chef and founder of Chosen Spot Pop-ups, a traveling restaurant that goes from farm to farm in California's Sonoma County creating stylized and unique dining experiences, is much more enthusiastic about kale's return exclaiming "Kale is the new bacon!" in an email interview. Lyle does go on to say that in a time when so much importance is being put on foods for being artisanal, "Kale is without pretense. It's not a wimpy plant." He says that his customers are enthusiastic about dishes with kale. "Right now I can sell it on a menu," Lyle says, "Six years ago not so much. I can remember servers rolling their eyes when I said the word knowing they would be explaining to customers what kale is all night. I for one am grateful kale is getting its time to shine."
One Baltimore area farmer jokingly says she's the reason for kale's surge in popularity. "I've been trying to get people to buy it for 10 years and they are finally listening," says Joan Norman of One Straw Farm in White Hall, Maryland. Norman, who helped pioneer the Community Supported Agriculture concept in Maryland and grows kale at her farm, gives credit to her CSA members for helping to increase kale's profile locally. "Once people learn one or two kale recipes, they share with friends and it spreads like wild fire," she says. "People react like it's a new vegetable because they finally know how to use it."
To celebrate the return of this bold brassica, I've come up with three recipes that feature kale's versatility. All are simple enough for anyone to make at home. So whether you are trying kale for the first time or are soon to be inundated with bags of the stuff from your local CSA, you'll have a few go-to recipes that are a delicious way to celebrate this leafy dynamo.
Kale with pappardelle and sun-dried tomatoes
Kale with pappardelle and sun-dried tomatoes
Kale adds depth to a bright summery plate of wide pasta. Don't be afraid of the anchovies. They are essential to this easy dish and will not add a fishy flavor.
1 white onion, medium dice
10 cloves garlic, sliced into thin rounds
10 sun-dried tomato slices (packed in oil), sliced length-wise into 1/4 inch wide pieces
1/2 pound dried pappardelle pasta
1 bunch curly or lacinato kale, stemmed, washed and chopped into 1/2 inch square pieces
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for shaving
1 In a large pot of water over high heat, add enough salt to make it taste like sea water. Heat until boiling and then turn water down to a simmer.
2 Heat a sauté pan over high heat for one minute and add olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion and sauté for one minute or until translucent on the edges. Turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic, sun-dried tomatos and chili flakes. Cook for two minutes, then make a hole in the mixture around the center of the pan and add the anchovies to it. With the back of a spoon, mash the anchovies up until they start to fall apart. Stir mixture together and then add the water. Scrape the bottom of the pan with the spoon to dislodge all of the brown bits created while cooking.
3 Add the pappardelle to the simmering water and turn up the heat until the water reaches a boil. Cook pasta until al dente.
4 To the sauté pan add the kale and cook for 4 minutes. Then add lemon juice, grated cheese and pine nuts. Mix to combine.
5 Strain the pasta and quickly place back into its pot and cover with the kale/ tomato mixture. Toss together until thoroughly combined. Sason to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately and garnish with shaved Pecorino Romano.
Pro Tip: To make this dish heartier, cooked sausage, meatballs or a soft boiled egg (added after plating) would all be welcome additions.
Kale and white bean soup with Italian sausage
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
2 leeks, dark green part removed, cut in quarters length-wise, washed and sliced
1 bunch curly or lacinato kale, stemmed, washed and roughly chopped into ½ inch pieces
2 cans cannellini beans, drained
2 sprigs sage, finely chopped
1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. After a minute add the olive oil. When it starts to shimmer add the sausage. Break the sausage up into smaller chunks with a spoon while it is sautéing. When the sausage is browned, remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and reserve in a bowl. Add the leeks to the remaining oil and cook for one minute before adding the garlic, bay leaf and chili flakes.
2 Turn the heat down to medium and cook ingredients for two minutes. Add kale and stir to combine. While the kale mixture is cooking, roughly mash one can of the beans with your hands and add to the stock. After the kale mixture has cooked for five minutes, add stock/ mashed bean mixture, whole beans, sausage, sage and thyme. Bring soup to a boil and turn off. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with garlic bread.
Pro Tip: Add the finished soup to a blender and puree mixture until smooth for a velvety cream-like soup without the extra calories.
Italian bread, cut into 1-inch thick rounds
Pre-heat the oven to broil. Place rounds of bread on a sheet pan and brush with olive oil. Place bread into the oven and broil until tops of toast are crispy and brown with slightly burned edges. Take out of the over and let cool for 2 minutes. While still warm, rub the garlic over the top of the toast until you are satisfied with the amount of garlic flavor. Serve immediately.
Fennel- and chili-flavored kale chips
This is a kale dish that even the kiddies can get behind. The crunchy and delicate kale chips are brightened by the fragrant fennel, spicy chili flakes and salt. Lacinato kale holds up better because it is thicker, but curly works just as well and becomes light as gossamer. Kept in a dry, covered container they will last up to a week.
2 tablespoons fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon red chili flake
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
2 bunches curly or lacinato kale- stemmed, washed and dried thoroughly
1 Place the fennel seed, chili flake and salt In a coffee/spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Grind or crush until the ingredients are a fine powder. Place aside until needed.
2 Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees. Working in batches, add kale, oil and fennel/ chili/ salt powder into a large mixing bowl. Work all of it together to get the kale completely covered in the oil/spice mix. Place the kale on a sheet pan with a wire rack insert and space the kale out so it is all in one layer. Put pan into the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the sheet pan 180 degrees and return to the over for another 15 minutes. Take the kale out of the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Eat immediately or store in a container.
Pro Tip: Crush the kale chips up into a powder and toss with popcorn to create a fennel/chili/kale flavored popcorn. The powder is great on buttered noodles as well.
The Best Kale and Why
Judging by the huge mounds of bushy bunches of kale in farmers' markets as well as supermarkets, this dark leafy green is still enjoying its well-deserved popularity, despite the fickle self-proclaimed arbiters of food trends who consider it passé. As my husband and I were wolfing down heaping forkfuls of spaghetti with kale and lots of golden-fried slices of garlic the other evening -- it's our favorite pasta dish and we never tire of it despite the fact that I make it every week -- he commented that as a kid he never saw kale or even heard of it. Ditto for me. It wasn't until we started frequenting the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City that we noticed it for the first time.
From my perspective in the late Gourmet magazine test kitchens, kale started to appear on the radar in the mid- to late '80s and was close to mainstream by the mid-'90s. For the longest time curly kale was the only kale available. It took the explosion of interest in Italian cooking to bring Tuscan kale to American markets, and other varieties soon followed.
See more: Indulgent, Delicious Breakfasts
Although I lacked enthusiasm during my early experiences with kale, I've long since become a kale cheerleader. I buy it year-round, shopping for it in the supermarket only when it's not available at the farmers market. The best and sweetest kale is the stuff that comes to market after the first couple of frosts.
Although it hasn't gotten that cold yet here in New York City, I've been stocking up on the Tuscan kale from Rick Bishop's Mountain Sweet Berry Farm in Roscoe, New York, in the western Catskill area, because it is the darkest, most supple kale around at the moment. Bishop's kale is pictured at the top in the photo above. Contrast it to Tuscan kale (a.k.a. lacinato, or dinosaur kale) from a nearby upscale supermarket and you can't help but see a huge difference. So I had to ask Bishop why his kale is so outstanding.
"It's about mineralizing the soil," he hurriedly explained as his line of customers grew. "That's my whole shtick!" Bishop adds compost, rock phosphate, lime, calcium phosphate, green sand, granite dust, and gypsum to his soil and sprays the crop with sea kelp and mineral solutions. "I'm a huge believer that inputs are necessary. High input. Build that soil up. Get it healthy. It builds up the [kale] flavor, the kale grows faster, it's more succulent, and it's tasty."
Where in the world does he get these minerals? Bishop was quick to credit the Amish with genuine respect. "Those guys are so close to the earth they know. They know their stuff." He buys most of it from the Amish, except for lime that he gets at a local mill.
I was curious how the Amish had become the big suppliers of minerals for soil. "It rang a note with the Amish like 30 years ago," said Bishop, explaining that as some farmers started turning towards eco-agriculture, growing more for quality to feed their own animals and their customers at the farmers' markets, the Amish saw a niche and became the distributors, the buyers and sellers of mineral inputs. The minerals come from all over the country. The green sand, for instance, comes from ancient ocean deposits in New Jersey.
As Bishop's customers grew more impatient with his chatty conversation with me, he wrapped it up with a big smile and a chuckle. "I'm building the soil, making it happy and alive!"
Want to feel as upbeat as Bishop's soil? These four-fork kale recipes are bound to make you feel happy and alive! And please tell me, what's your favorite way to eat kale?
Why Southerners should eat just as much kale as collard greens
It seems as though Kale has reached that point on the popularity curve where people want to hate it because it's popular. Once upon a time, it was easy to file away this dark green leafy vegetable as just another trendy food, but now it's everywhere. Kale is incredibly versitle and easily used in hearty salads and savory entrees.
Still, some people are hesitant to give kale a shot. For one reason or another, trends hae a way of turning people off and there is no denying that kale is the new "it" vegetable. But kale is a wildly successful species.
The goal of any plant is to make and spread its seed, and kale is grown in all 50 states, shipped to all 50 states, has its seed farms dedicated to its future success. With this current kale craze, it's hard to see an end in sight for this vegetable.
Whether you're interested in trying kale for the fiber, the calcium, the social statement or whatever, you still have to find a way to prepare it. It isn't a matter of putting kale in everything as much as putting everything — or anything — into kale in order to turn it into a dish you'll enjoy eating because the more kale that you eat, the healthier you will be.
In terms of health impact, almost anything that can be said about kale can be said about collard greens, chard, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli leaves and many others.
Novices may want to start by massaging their kale, for a softer salad. Squeezing and rubbing the leaves with your hands will break the cells, releasing enzymes that begin cutting up those fiber chains. Massaging with salt and lime juice increases the effect, and since both of those are in the dressing there's no reason not to.
Unless, of course, you want your kale coarse. Once upon a time my wife the salad whisperer would massage the kale salad, but now she doesn't want the leaves so soft. "Once you massage it they lose their structure," she says. "I like a structureful salad."
The dressing consists of olive oil, lime or lemon juice, and salt. Vinegar, while acidic, makes a terrible substitute for lime or lemon. She typically doubles down on the salt by adding feta or Parmesan cheese to the salad. And she adds onion, because something needs to stand up to all of that fat and fiber.
Strip the leafy parts from the stem and mince six leaves of kale. Use half a cup of olive oil, a quarter cup of lime juice, and salt to taste. If you want to massage it, take a 1/4 cup of dressing and rub it in. Then toss in the rest, and add extras like cheese, onion, olives or sun-dried tomatoes.
It's kind of cheating, but at least it's cheating with historical precedent. Cooking kale with bacon recalls the Southern dish of collards and ham hock, and that's no coincidence. Pork and brassicas — a plant family that also includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts — is a winning combination. I usually take it in an Eastern direction, by making a mix of soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar or lime juice.
Rip the leafy parts off the stem of three or so kale leaves, and mince the leafy parts. Cut bacon into little pieces and fry. When it's half-cooked add the garlic, and lay the kale on top. When it wilts down, stir it around, season with black pepper and hot pepper, and finally pour in your little sauce. Those leaves will shrink way down, and look even smaller as soon as you take your first bite.
Is Juicing Good or Bad Nutritionally?
Just because it comes from a fruit or veggie does not mean that it’s healthy all the time — or totally harmless. Before juicing you need to be particularly careful if you have a chronic condition or are taking certain drugs, says Adrienne Youdim, MD, an expert in medical weight loss and nutritional therapy in Beverly Hills, California.
A Green Smoothie (that actually tastes good)
Yes, it&rsquos possible to have a green smoothie that tastes good.
I should probably preface this by saying if you&rsquore one of those hard core &ldquoI use a beet to sweeten my all-greens smoothie&rdquo kinds of people, then this might not appeal to you.
I&rsquom not that hard core with a green smoothie.
Like, not even close. I&rsquom a fruit smoothie girl who would rather roast her vegetables than drink them.
I recognize the value in blending vegetables, though, because I doubt I&rsquod sit and eat all of this plain. Especially for breakfast.
It&rsquos also a great meal replacement with some protein powder if you need to detox for a few days.
(By the way, if you&rsquore looking for a clean, dairy-free, grain-free protein poweder, Rootz is it. It&rsquos my favorite and one of the only powders I&rsquove tried that doesn&rsquot hurt my stomach. And you can get 10% off by using my code &mdash PERRYSPLATE.)
Last summer after I had finished nursing my baby, I wanted to do a juice/smoothie detox. Mostly because I&rsquod never done one, and I wanted to try it.
OK, that was only a small reason. It was because I was going to be in a wedding in a little over a week, and I wanted to loose some belly pooch. Dr. Oz&rsquos 3-day juice cleanse looked good, so I tried it.
(This is not an endorsement for Dr. Oz. He has some OK ideas sometimes, but he contradicts himself a LOT and gives horrible advice depending on who is sponsoring at the moment. Steve likes to watch it and pick all of his recommendations apart.)
So this smoothie was the &ldquolunch&rdquo smoothie from his cleanse, and it was my favorite out of the three.
I found it odd that I liked it so much considering this smoothie was the least popular among people online who had tried the cleanse.
I tweaked it slightly, and I make it to have for lunch every now and then. Especially if I&rsquove eaten a lot of rich food lately.
How to make a smoothie taste good
- Putting at least one frozen element in a smoothie dramatically improves the taste. I&rsquom not a room-temperature smoothie girl either. (See note above. I&rsquom not hard core.)
- Pineapple is pretty dang awesome in a smoothie. We&rsquove started using frozen pineapple to replace the frozen strawberries in our morning smoothies. (And replaced the carrot with more spinach and added almond milk) It sweetens really well, and it covers up a lot of the bitterness from greens, if you happen to be using kale.
- Adding an acidic element helps to brighten the flavors. Pineapple does a good job here, but a squirt of lime, a splash of pomegranate or orange juice would work, too!
Do the kids like it? Mostly.
A couple of the kids would still rather have a &ldquosmoothie store&rdquo smoothie than anything we make here, but will still drink it if it isn&rsquot green.
They also used to dip pieces of ham in maple-sweetened yogurt, so I wouldn&rsquot trust their judgment.
Let me know what you think of this recipe! If you make it, tag me on social media so I can send you some love &mdash #perrysplate or @perrysplate.
Blanching kale softens its tough texture and its infamous bitterness. It also sets the green color, allowing you to cook it further without losing as much green as happens otherwise. All it takes is a quick dunk in boiling salted water and a rinse in ice-cold water after draining.
It is worth noting that blanching kale removes some of its vitamins. However, if the gentler flavor and easier texture help you eat more of it, you're still getting more vitamins than if you were to eat no kale at all.
This refreshing citrus and kale salad will invigorate your work day. It&rsquos satisfying and simple, and you can make it your own by adding your favorite toppings or pairing it with a side of toast.
Image Credits: Kale Smoothie, Citrus via Pixabay Kale Frittata via John Valiant Kale Dip via Popsugar Photography, Leta Shy Kale Pizza via Kelli Foster.