Kale: Make room on your plate Popeye, it’s the new spinach!
If you’ve spent anytime in the paleo blogosphere at all, you’ll know that paleo eaters everywhere seem to be eating their body weight in kale these days. They are eating it raw, cooking it every which way, putting it in smoothies and in L.A., they are even massaging it! So, what’s so great about kale you might ask? Well, for starters, have a look at kale’s nutritional profile:
A nutritional profile like that makes kale one of the healthiest vegetables out there. Leafy green kale is available in curly, ornamental, or dinosaur varieties (now, if dinosaur variety isn’t paleo sounding, I don’t know what is!). It belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
Carotenoids and flavonoids (there are 45 flavonoids in kale!) are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
Vitamin K and Omega-3: Vitamin K and Omega-3 play key roles in reducing inflammation in the body by regulating the inflammatory processes.
Glucosinolates: Kale, along with the rest of the members of the Brassica family (such as cabbage and broccoli), contains a number of these anti-cancer chemicals. These groups of glucosinolates and their derived isothiocyantes block the growth of certain types of cancer cells, boost DNA repair and help cells to detox!
Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
And if all those big sciency sounding compounds just confused you, here is a great infographic from Nutribullet:
Now that I’ve convinced you that you, too, should be eating kale, I bet you’re wondering where to get it and how to cook it. Kale is available year round in North America in pretty much every grocery store. It even comes pre-washed and chopped. And it’s not just the North Americans that love kale. It’s Northern Germany’s most popular vegetable. They even have a Kale Academy that teaches a unique virtual course on kale. Yes, I’m serious. They have graduated over 6.000 students!
Sadly, we are not so lucky here in Switzerland. Kale (Federkohl in German) is only available for a few weeks in the Fall. I have never seen it at Migros but I have found it at some of the larger Coops sometimes. I have also found it at the Viaduct Markthalle and Globus down in Zurich. You can also order it on-line for home delivery from Querbeet. Querbeet is the Swiss version of what Americans know as a CSA. You might get lucky and find it at a farmer’s market. I had my husband driving all over the place last year to keep me stocked up on kale.
Well, hold on to your socks. You don’t have to spend 30 minutes in the car just to get your kale fix. A few weekends ago, we hit the jackpot at the garden center. They had huge purple and green kale plants for 8.50 each. I bought one of each and am now growing kale in pots. I should be able to harvest my kale all the way through until March. It is winter hardy and actually gets better tasting after each frost. If you would like to read up on how to grow kale at home, have a look at this site.
My very own kale plants
Okay, now that you can grow kale at home, what are you going to do with it all? I like to saute it the same way that I do with Swiss chard or spinach. It’s great cooked up with minced garlic and then a splash of lemon juice at the end. I also like to throw kale into my scrambled eggs. Michelle over at nomnompaleo has a great recipe for stir fried kale with bacon. However, my very favorite thing to make with kale is kale chips. Craving potato chips or popcorn? Try kale chips. Seriously. Jaden over at SteamyKitchen has some great tips on how to make them here. You can even get creative with your kale chips and try sprinkling different spices on them (chili pepper, cinnamon, chili lime, smoked paprika, garlic, curry powder etc…).
Do you have a favorite way to make kale? Do you have experience growing it at home? Let us know in the comments!! Now, go eat your kale. It’s good for you.
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