Kale: Make room on your plate Popeye, it’s the new spinach!

Kale: Make room on your plate Popeye, it’s the new spinach!
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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:

 

 

 

Wow!

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.

1. Antioxidants

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.

2. Anti-inflammatory

Vitamin K and Omega-3: Vitamin K and Omega-3 play key roles in reducing inflammation in the body by regulating the inflammatory processes.

3. Anti-Cancer

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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12 Comments

  1. saw kale for the first time ever in CH at the market in luzern this morning. couldn’t believe my eyes! made my day.

    • Hi Jenn, I definitely did a happy dance when I found it at the garden center. Still sad that we can only get it for a few weeks a year here. I stuff my face with it when I go to the States :-) Enjoy your kale!

      • Super helpful post with great links on how to harvest and store the leaves. We will start harvesting ours tomorrow!!! Yeay for Kale!

  2. I often find Cavolo Nero (black kale) at the Italian sellers at the weekly market in Oerlikon on Saturday morning. I certainly bought it 2 weeks ago and have been buying it regularly over the winter months. It seems to have a much longer season that the the Swiss Federkohl.

    • Thanks Janie! I’m going to have to get myself over to the Oerlikon market :-)

  3. Many thanks for these posts – it explains why i cant find it anywhere. So balcony growing it is!

    • Hi,
      I did find kale at Migros for the first time ever this year, so hopefully we’ll see it more often in the future. The bigger farmers markets seem to have it through most of the winter. Growing it was super easy though. Next year I’m going to grow even more :-)

  4. Well trips to Volkiland Coop; Wetzikon Coop and Migros and Hinwil Coop I drew a blank. Turning to looking for seeds – and yet again a blank at the big stores. Can someone tell me where to buy the Kale seeds from in Switzerland? (I dont have time to get to Oerlikon Market – especially living in the Oberland).

    • Sorry you are having such a hard time in your quest for kale. It’s too far past the season to find any eatable kale at this point. I last saw it a few weeks ago. We bought full grown kale plants in the fall at this awesome (and huge) garden center http://www.meier-ag.ch/cms/gartencenter/index.php I think that’s also where my friend Susan got her kale seeds (which she is sprouting indoors at the moment). It’s not going to be grown enough to eat until fall. Kale likes cold temperatures with frost which is why it is usually only available for eating between Oct and Feb here.

      • Thanks Lisa. I knew Kale was out of season but hoped to start growing my own. iherb.com might be my second bet but they tend to sell only processed kale chips (but do have other good superfoods). The place in Durnten is easy cycle ride away (when we next have a sunny day) so will get my attention soon.

        Thanks

  5. Hi,

    Today I found kale at the market at Bürkliplatz. It seems that the Swiss are growing fond of this superfood too. I bought some and will try it out with bacon and of course as chips. :-)

    • Hi Isabelle,
      Yes, it’s getting easier and easier to find. Burkliplatz generally has it during the fall. Some Coops caryy it on and off, as does Globus. Last year was the first year I ever found it in Migros (not all Migros and not all the time). I grow 5 plants and 3 varieties at home in pots so that I’ve got some around when I can’t find it in stores. When I do find it, I buy a ton. You will love kale chips :-)

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