Kale is my all-time favorite leafy green vegetable. I use kale in place of lettuce, except that I do things with kale I would never have done with lettuce, like throw it in my stir-fry! It belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables that includes cabbage, collard greens, and Brussel sprouts. These veggies have gained widespread attention due to their health-promoting, sulfur-containing phytonutrients. Kale provides more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around.
The organosulfur compounds in Kale are glucosinolates and methyl cysteine sulfoxides. There are about 10-15 glucosinolates in Kale which appear able to lessen the occurence of a wide variety of cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers. Kale is also known for its carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids act like sunglass filters and prevent damage to the eyes from excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, which leads to lowering the risk of cataracts. Kale is also high in calcium and fiber, among many other vitamins and minerals.
Kale can be found year round, but is actually in season from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring. Kale can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, but is best eaten 1-2 days after purchase while it is still sweet. Kale should be wrapped in a damp paper towel, placed in a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator crisper. It should not be washed before storing.
Here are a few quick serving ideas:
Healthy saute kale with garlic and sprinkle with lemon juice and olive oil before serving.
Braise chopped kale and apples. Before serving, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and chopped walnuts.
Combine chopped kale, pine nuts, and feta cheese with whole grain pasta drizzled with olive oil.
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