Move over Popeye, there’s a new leafy green in town and it’s name is kale. By far my favorite veggie, kale belongs to the Brassica family, a group of cruciferous veggies that includes cabbage, collard greens and Brussel sprouts. There are several varieties, such as those with green and purple leaves, that range in taste, appearance and texture.
Kale is a powerhouse of nutrition, a superfood unlike any other with anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. And guess what else? It tastes delicious too! Kale has an earthy, bitter flavor with tough leaves that soften when cooked or massaged. But more on that later 🙂
For now, may I present you with my top 8 reasons why I have a total kale obsession:
1 – Kale lowers cholesterol, which is important for heart health. The fiber-rich compounds in kale bind together with bile acids in your digestive tract and help to excrete it from your system. Special tip: this is especially true when the kale is steamed.
2 – Kale lowers the rick of cancer, namely of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate because it contains glucosinolates. When eaten, these good guys are converted into cancer preventive compounds that protect the body from life-threatening disease.
3 – Kale is a detoxifying food because of it’s high levels of fiber and sulfur, both of which aid in digestion and promote liver health. Containing about 15 grams of fiber per 100 calories makes this one of the most fiber-rich foods on the planet.
4 – Kale decreases inflammation and oxidative stress with it’s high level of antioxidants. One cup contains 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6, 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A and 200% of vitamin C. It is also a good source of minerals such as copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
5 – Kale is an extraordinary source of vitamin K (one cup has 1,020% of your daily requirement), almost twice as much as other cruciferous veggies. This key nutrient helps regulate the body’s inflammatory response and is also important for normal bone health and in the prevention of blood clotting. Plus, vitamin K also helps with Alzheimer’s disease by lessening the effects of mental aging.
6 – Kale is a great weight loss food because it is low calorie and contains zero fat. One cup only has 36 calories!
7 – Kale is called the “new beef” because has more iron than meat and more calcium than milk. Iron is important for transporting oxygen throughout the body, proper liver function and cellular growth. Calcium aids in preventing bone loss and osteoporosis while promoting joint health. This also makes it a great source of these minerals for vegetarians and vegans.
8 – Kale contains omega-3 fatty acids, which give us beautiful skin and hair. Only 100 calories of kale provides 25-30% of the daily requirement of omega-3 fatty acids according to the National Academy of Science. The omega-3 fatty acids in kale help prevent and alleviate arthritis, autoimmune disorders and asthma.
How do you select and store?
Look for kale that has firm, deeply colored leaves and moist sturdy stems. Because it wilts easily, kale should be displayed in a cool environment. Avoid any bunches with signs of browning or yellowing or those with small holes in the leaves.
To store properly, place kale in plastic storage bag removing as much air as possible. When refrigerated, it will keep for about 5 days. The longer its stored, the more bitter it becomes so eat it sooner rather than later.
When cutting kale, let it sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking. This enhances it’s beneficial nutrient concentration. You can also add lemon which has a similar effect.
While kale is not one of the 12 most contaminated vegetables, it still contains high concentrations of pesticide and insecticide residues that can be toxic to your nervous system. Buy organic to avoid these health risks!
Although it is sold in supermarkets year round, it is in season in the mid-winter through the early spring.
Preserve kale’s nutrients by cooking it quickly. Rinse kale, chop it finely, and add it soups, stews, stir-fries or salads. Steam kale for five minutes or try eating it raw. Throw it into a smoothie for a green veggie boost. You can even substitute it for spinach or collard greens in recipes. But my favorite is kale chips. Quick, easy and better than potato chips.
Here’s the recipe:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Carefully tear kale leaves off their stems. Thoroughly wash and pat dry. Spread kale leaves out a baking tray. Drizzle oil olive over the leaves and massage until softened. Here is where you can be creative! Add in different seasoning and spices like Himalayan salt, soy sauce, sesame seeds, lime zest, chili powder, lemon juice, black pepper, hemp seeds, roasted garlic or nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until leaves are crisp and golden brown. Eat, crunch and enjoy!
What is your favorite way to eat kale? Please comment and share below.