Eating a variety of vegetables everyday will certainly lead to good health, but kale is a powerhouse of nutrition protecting us from all kinds of cancers and helps in lowering cholesterol.
Kale, also known as borecole, is truly one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It's a leafy green that's available in curly, ornamental and dinosaur varieties. Kale is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables which includes cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and collards. What makes kale so special? Here's why it is the SUPERSTAR of vegetables:
- 1 cup of kale has 33 calories, 9% of recommended calcium intake, 206% of Vitamin A, 134% of Vitamin C, and 684% of Vitamin K.
- It also contains minerals such as copper, potassium maganese, iron and phosphorous.
- Kale is loaded with antioxidants.
- The fiber content in kale binds bile acids to help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
When buying kale, look for deep dark colored leaves with hardy stems. The smaller size leaves usually have a milder flavor. The dinosaur variety, which I have a hard time finding, is my FAVORITE...it has a mild almost sweet flavor. The only place I found it locally is at the Fresh Market in Latham. The first time I had this variety of kale, I was in a restaurant in Arizona...it was so good I had to ask the chef what variety of kale he used because it was like nothing I had ever tasted!
Quick cooking preserves kale's nutrients, texture, color and flavor. Rinse kale well, pull the leaves off the stem and chop it finely to throw in soups, stews, salads, stir-frys or pasta dishes. Steam kale for about 5 minutes to make it more tender. Other fast ways to prepare kale:
- Make a simple salad with finely chopped kale, red pepper, onion and raisins with your favorite salad dressing
- Braise chopped kale and apples, top with walnuts and drizzle balsamic vinegar over it
- Toss kale in whole-wheat pasta along with lots of other vegetables and a ladle of marinara sauce
- Saute onions and garlic (in a small amount of water), add kale, mushrooms and your favorite flavored vinegar
So the next time you are grocery shopping, make sure you toss a bundle of kale into your cart. It really is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can find, not only in the market, but on the planet!