My husband and kids love kale – no, really they do! I wasn’t always a big fan myself, but I learned about the many virtues of this amazing veggie and got creative to find ways to enjoy it. I’ll share our family’s favorite recipes in this post, but first let’s talk about why we should adore this vegetable.
Getting to Know Kale
Kale is a member of the Cruciferae clan, which makes it kin to cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens and cauliflower. It is a descendent of the wild cabbage that grew in Asia Minor. My crazy roaming Celtic ancestors brought it to Europe around 600 BC, where it blossomed in popularity all over Europe into the Middle Ages. More of my adventurous ancestors (or folks like them) brought them to the US in the mid 17th century. This is one hearty plant that does particularly well in cold climates and the cooler seasons. I’m guessing this is part of its popularity.
According to WebMD, one cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Oh boy!
As it turns out, vitamins A, C & K are super antioxidants of the phytonutrient variety – this is good. The particular phytonutrients – carotenoids and falvonoids are particularly associated with anti-cancer qualities. Very good. Aside from an awesome fiber content, it also contains lutien and zeaxanthin compounds, which are excellent for eye health. according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a vitamin K-rich diet can reduce the risk of developing or dying from cancer. Excellent. There are other foods that contain vitamin K (spinach, collard greens, cheese), but none quite like hearty kale.
6 Ways to Love Kale
1. GD Meg’s Kale & Basil Pesto
Must give my daughter Mary credit for helping me come up with this one.
2 cups packed kale (stripped of the hard stems)
1 cup packed fresh basil
1/4 cup GD Meg’s cashew cheese
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic (at least)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon good salt
Put everything but the oil in your food processor and get it going, adding oil slowly – stopping to scrape the sides a couple of times.
2. GD Meg’s Gluten-Free Kale & Basil Pesto & Pasta YUM
Your favorite GF pasta
GD Meg’s Kale & Basil Pesto (above)
Sun dried tomatoes
This one is really easy and fun and I have no idea what the measurements for anything are. It is up to you and your taste!
3. Sautéed Kale
Bunch of kale, stripped of big stems and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 – 2 cloves garlic crushed
1 – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
Put pine nuts in one layer on a baking sheet and bake @ 400 degrees for a few minutes (check and stir every couple of minutes, usually takes 6 – 8 minutes). Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet, and add the garlic – stirring for a minute. Then add the kale, stirring continuously till it starts to turn bright green (happens kind of fast) – all on medium-high heat. Once it is a bright color, turn the heat down, add the remaining ingredients and try not to over cook it!
4. Mix it into favorite salads and coleslaws
I’ve gotten into the habit lately of keeping fresh kale in the refrigerator so that I can easily cut up some bits and add it to any variety of fresh, raw salads and coleslaws that I make – especially this time of year (summer!).
5. GD Meg’s Favorite Veggie Juice w/ Kale
If you have a juicer, this is a delicious combo, if you don’t have a juicer, many health food stores and restaurants offer veggie juices now, so give them this combo! (This is the amount I use for about 2 servings)
Carrots – 10 – 12 carrots
Celery – 1 – 2 stems
Kale – 1 – 2 full leaves w/ some of fat stem removed
Beets – half of a beet
Fresh Ginger – this is to taste (I usually use 1 – 2 teaspoons worth – don’t need to grate or anything)
6. GD Meg’s Surprisingly Delicious & Nutritious Green Drink
Seriously, I balked when I first heard about this one, but when I tried it, I was stunned by how delicious it was!
1 cup sunflower seeds (hulled)
2 cups pineapple juice
1 – 2 cups fresh kale (large stems removed)
Soak the sunflower seeds in 1 cup of the pineapple juice overnight (enzymes from juice breakdown and liberate the nutritious bits in the seeds). Put everything in a blender in the morning adding the additional pineapple juice. Be delighted.
eat. blog. be merry!
kale image via shutterstock