Food for thought- Kale

Kale is a form of cabbage, with green or purple leaves, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. Other vegetables in the same species include broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and brussels sprouts.

Kales can be classified by leaf type:

  • Curly leaved (Scots Kale)
  • Plain leaved
  • Rape Kale
  • Leaf and spear (a cross between curly leaved and plain leaved Kale)
  • Cavolo nero (also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, and dinosaur Kale)

Kale is grown in cool temperature. It tastes sweeter and more flavorful when exposed to a frost. It turns bitter in the summer heat. It is best enjoyed in the winter months.

Nutritional Value: Kale is very similar in nutrient composition to brussels sprouts. It is very high in beta carotene, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, fiber and calcium.  Kale has cancer preventive properties and promotes DNA repair in cells. It also contain resins that lower cholesterol and decreases dietary  fat absorption.

Preparing Kale:

Kale is as easy to cook as spinach. Here are some tips..

  • If you are cooking with mature leaves, remove the tough stems before cooking — they are rather stringy and don’t add much flavor to the dish.
  • Young kale leaves can be eaten raw in salads.
  • If you end up with some bitter kale, you can still salvage it. Boil it in a bit of water to draw out some of the bitterness. Toss out the water, then add the boiled kale to soups, stews, or stir fries.
  • Avoid boiling kale as this results in significant loss of nutrients. Steaming, microwaving and stir frying are best methods of cooking kale.
  • When baked or dehydrated, Kale takes on a consistency similar to that of a potato chip and is a much healthier alternative to regular potato chips
  • Store kale in plastic bags in your crisper. It keeps much longer than lettuce or spinach, so is more forgiving if you don’t get around to using it right away.
  • Kale also freezes very well. Wash the leaves thoroughly, and remove any thick stems. Seal well, label, and freeze for up to six months.

Buy some at your farmer’s market this week and enjoy them raw or cooked. Get them while they are still sweet from the winter frost! Recipes to follow soon..stay tuned!