The Benefits of Kale: Superfood or Superfad?
Kale is like the hip, new broccoli of the produce section.
Kale has saved salads everywhere, turning them from bland to bomb with it’s unique texture and deceivingly sharp taste. It even plays to our sensual side, with the belief that ‘massaging’ the kale unlocks access to even more hidden nutritious treasures. But with all this talk of the ‘Almighty and Powerful Superfood’, is there really evidence to back up the beneficial beliefs? Is there really ‘gold’ in this green that could help detox our bodies, fight heart disease and protect against cancer? Let’s see what this little ‘Queen Green’ is all about:
What is Kale?
Kale is a form of cabbage in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and brussel sprouts. (Kind of ironic that it is related to foods that most people find repulsive). It can be green or purple in color and tends to grow better in colder weather. Apparently, exposing it to a light frost will help sweeten the flavor and keeping it at a warmer temperature intensifies the bitter flavor. When baked, it shrivels up into a crispy texture and can best be compared to a potato chip – nature’s potato chip, if you will – minus the high fructose corn syrup and grains. It can be used as the outside of a wrap, the lettuce of a salad, or the superstar of the soup bowl.
When purchasing kale, you want to pick firm, dark leaves with stiff stems. Keeping it warm will cause it to wilt faster so it is recommended to keep it in a zip lock bag in the darkest, coolest section of your fridge. High maintenance little veggie, isn’t it?
What are the Benefits of Kale?
The obsession with kale could be due to the fact that it is a food that is low in calories, contains no sugar or fat and is packed with more nutrients than the average person can say and/or pronounce. it is high in fiber which we all know helps us to feel fully satisfied and can help with digestion too. It is also substantially high in calcium even though it won’t leave a little mustache on your lip. Unlike dairy products, the calcium found in kale is optimal for absorption and we all know that extra calcium will hep prevent us from looking like the hunchback later in life. When it comes to putting the super into ‘Superfood’ the focus is on the antioxidants.
Flavanoids and carotenoids are two types that can be found in this leafy legacy and help in cleansing the liver, boosting your metabolism, improving your skin, hair and eyesight and even help to protect against cancer. The winner however is ‘Vitamin K’ which can also be found in sister spinach. Vitamin K helps facilitate the antioxidant activity, strong bone health and normal blood clotting. (You won’t bleed-out from a paper-cut – that’s a bonus!)
How to Cook Kale
Kale is quite the versatile little veggie with an almost unlimited number of ways that it can be prepared.
SALADS: It can be eaten raw and used as the base lettuce in salads though it is recommended to shred the leaves off of the stem as the stem in raw form is difficult to chew. Adding roasted beets, raw walnuts and red onion creates a delicious combination of flavors, especially when adding a drizzle of olive oil. Chopped butternut squash, sliced apple and chopped bacon is also another creation that compliments the unique flavor that kale offers.
SAUTEED: Adding a drizzle of olive oil to a pan over medium heat will cook the kale quickly but evenly. Adding some garlic and light seasoning will help flavor it to be eaten as a side dish, or once softened, it can be added to compliment other dishes.
STEAMED: Filling a pot with water and a steam basket over high heat allows the steam and heat to cook and soften the kale. It does create an interesting smell within the kitchen and doesn’t need to be steamed for very long to get the full benefits.
BAKED: Spread the kale out on aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil and bake for 7-10 minutes in the oven. Adding garlic and additional seasonings help to enhance the flavor of the kale while it cooks.
JUICE: Blending fruits and vegetables into liquid form makes them easier to digest within the body. Kale is easy to juice and can be added to any juice combination to get an extra boost of all of the vitamins this veggies has to offer. A great combination is: carrots, apple, kale and ginger.
The average cost for a kale bunch is $2 so scrape together some pennies and give this superfood fad a try!