Kale Yeah!

In the world of healthy vegetables, dark, leafy greens are by far some of the most nutritious foods the earth provides us. There are many leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, watercress, collard greens and dandelion. These are all some of my favorite foods that I eat every day. The greener the leafy green, the more nutrition they tend to have. Leafy greens are a great source of minerals, vitamins, folic acid and protein. I’d like to share with you the numerous healthful benefits and easy preparation tips on one of the superstars of the green family, near and dear to my heart- Kale.

Kale, this funky looking bunch of greens is actually a member of the cabbage family. There are several varieties and they are classified by their leaf type. There is Curly kale with curly little leaves and there’s Red Russian kale, I love the purple color this adds to salads or stir-frys, and the darkest of them all goes by a few different names- Cavolo Nero, black kale, Tuscan kale, lacinato or my favorite, dinosaur kale.

As for the powerhouse of nutrition I’ve been mentioning, I’ll start with the ORAC rating. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity. ORAC is a testing procedure used by the USDA to determine the antioxidant capacity of fruits and vegetables. They look at all the different phytochemicals and antioxidants found in plant foods and they determine how well everything works together- how much ability the team of nutrients has to fight cell damaging free radicals. There are different versions of the test but the most well-known of these tests has kale as number one among the vegetables with an ORAC value of 1770!!! Spinach is the next best veggie with an ORAC value of 1260. So you can see kales free radical fighting powers are above and beyond any other vegetable! This book is a wonderful, easy to use resource for nutritional information.

Kale contains powerful phytochemicals called indoles. These are plant compounds that have been found to have a protective effect against breast, cervical and colon cancer. Kale is also a great source of sulfur and contains sulforaphane which helps boost the bodys enzymes for detoxification. Sulforaphane is formed when vegetables containing it are chopped or chewed. It triggers the liver to remove free radicals and other chemicals that may cause DNA damage.

Kale is LOADED with calcium, iron, vitamins A and C and vitamin K which helps build bones. And you can readily absorb and utilize these forms of nutrients as opposed to other sources of say calcium or iron which the body may have a hard time working with.

Kale contains SEVEN times the beta-carotene of broccoli and TEN times as much lutein and zeaxanthin- these are eye-protecting caretenoids that are known to help protect against macular degeneration.

And who thinks of leafy greens when you think protein?? Well, 2 cups of raw kale contains about 4 grams of protein which is equivalent to the protein content in a small handful of almonds. 2 cups of raw kale also contains 3 grams of fiber!!!

It’s just so good for you! 🙂 And another great thing about kale is that it’s so versatile. You can incorporate it into your diet in many forms. Kale is great when added to soups or stews. You can make your own kale chips with your own combo of yummy flavors- just bake ’em in the oven. I love adding kale to pasta sauce or stir frys with other veggies and spices. Sometimes I add a layer of kale in my veggie lasagna or my mexican bean bake. The softer varieties of kale chopped up very fine are so delicious in egg dishes too.

While I love incorporating kale into my cooked food, the health benefits of kale in it’s raw (uncooked) form are even greater. Kale can be added to fresh juices and smoothies which is super easy and delicious but I really love eating kale salad. There are a lot of different styles, flavors and textures for kale salad but I’ll share with you my favorite way to make a really yummy  raw kale salad. (and if you have children, this is a really easy salad the kids can help prepare which can make them more inclined to eat it!)

Sara’s Simply Yummy Kale Salad Recipe

Start with some kale, whatever variety you like. I  prefer the Lacinato or dinosaur kale for its dense green color but the red russian and curly are super yummy too.

Pull the kale off the stalks with your hands, tear it apart, put it in a bowl.

Squeeze a fresh lemon or two on it, sprinkle some chunky sea salt, pour a little olive oil ( or Udo’s oil or other essential fatty acid oil, flax etc..) I like to add a splash or two of apple cider vinegar to my salad.

Massage the leaves. Really work it all in there. The lemon juice and the sea salt actually tenderize the leaves.

Throw in some pine nuts and eat it!!! Yum!!!!!!

You can get really creative with how you make this salad.  Cranberries, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, walnuts or anything else can go in there if you are so inclined. Get creative and have fun!!!

 

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