What’s your response when you see kale at the market?
a. Ooooohhhh, KALE!!!
b. Ugh…. kaayyyelll….
c. What’s the deal? Why do people need so much garnish?
Some people are crazy for kale, some hate it, and some have no idea what to do with it. No matter how you feel about kale, celebrate National Kale Day with us by learning why it’s a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, and how to prepare it in a way that you can enjoy (even if you hate it).
What’s There to Kalebrate?
One cup of raw leafy kale—at only 33 calories—supplies twice your daily needs for vitamin A and 1.5-times the recommended intake of vitamin C. It’s also packed with vitamin K, providing over 60% of your daily needs. Kale also provides calcium, potassium and iron to your daily diet, as well as folate, a B-vitamin that is important for brain development. Antioxidants, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which give kale its deep, green color, protects your eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts. And, like other leafy green vegetables, kale has fiber, which helps with weight loss by making you feel full and controlling blood sugar for people with diabetes.
A word of caution if you have thyroid problems: As a member of the cabbage family, kale is cousins with broccoli, cauliflower, and collards, all of which can interact with thyroid function if they are eaten in high amounts. You can still include them in your daily diet in moderation.
How To Pick And Store Kale
When selecting kale, look for firm, deep-colored leaves and moist, hardy stems. Smaller sized leaves will be more tender and have a milder flavor. Store kale, without washing, in plastic storage bags with most of the air removed. It can be stored in the refrigerator for about five days. Washing kale first will make it spoil more quickly. When you are ready to cook or eat it, remove the leaves from the tough stalks.
Make It Delicious… Or Just Tolerable
There are many easy and delicious ways to incorporate kale into your daily diet. But if you really do not like kale, try adding small amounts to minimize the taste while still benefitting from their nutritious punch.
- Make a green pasta sauce. Or add some kale leaves to pasta sauce and soups.
- Make a custom green smoothie by blending a half-cup of chopped, raw kale with one cup of your favorite dairy product and another cup of your favorite fruits. You can also find your favorite green smoothie from the endless list of recipes online.
- Sauté kale leaves with olive oil and add onion, garlic, pine nuts and feta cheese. Serve alone or over whole grain pasta.
- Bake kale chips. Spread 3 cups of kale leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until the kale is crispy and the edges of the leave are slightly brown. This delicious and popular snack is a great alternative for anyone craving a salty, crunchy snack. One cup has only 45 calories, and it’s packed with nutrition. (Editor’s note: Even my picky-eater will eat this by the trayful.)