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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kale

Kale:

About:

Kale (Brassica oleracea/Acephala Group) is a vegetable with green or purple leaves in which the central leaves do not form a head.   As a Brassica vegetable, it is in the family including cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts.  Kale is a cruciferous vegetable and in fact has been called the "queen" of the cruciferous vegetables because of its health attributes.  The leaves of the kale plant have an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food.

Uses:

Kale freezes well and tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost.  Tender kale greens can provide an intense addition to salads, particularly when combined with other strongly flavored ingredients as dry roasted peanuts, soy sauce, roasted almonds, red capsicum flakes, or a sesame-based dressing.  When combined with oils or lemon juice, kale's flavor is noticeably reduced.  When baked or dehydrated, kale takes on a consistency similar to that of a potato chip.  Curly kale varieties are usually preferred for chips.  The chips can be seasoned with salt or other spices. 

History:

Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common vegetables in all of Europe.  Like broccoli, cauliflower, and collard greens, kale a descendant of wild cabbage thought to have originated in Asia Minor and brought to Europe by 600 B.C. 

My Story:

Kale was one of the vegetables that Grandma made.  I loved it even as a kid.  My Mom didn't make it very often.  For a very long time kale was something I would only see as a garnish on platters or in restaurants.  As an adult, I rekindled my love for kale, and now I have it in the house almost all the time.   I try to have some every day.  For me it's a great example of something that is good and good for you.

Nutrition:

Kale is high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and rich in calcium.  Kale contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, much needed micronutrients, and cancer-preventive nutrients called  glucosinolates.


Health Benefits:

Kale, as do broccoli and other Brassica vegetables, contains sulforaphane (especially when chopped), a chemical with potent anti-cancer and anti diabetes properties.  Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane, however, steaming, microwaving, or stir frying does not result in significant loss.  Kale is also a source of indole-3-carbi8nol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.  Kale has been found to contain a group of resins known as bile acid sequestrants, which are shown to lower cholesterol and decrease absorption of dietary fat. 

Season:

Kale can be found in markets throughout the year.  It is in season from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring.

Selecting and Storing:

Choose kale with firm deeply colored leaves and moist, hardy stems.  The leaves should look fresh, be not wilted, and be free from signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes. 
Store kale in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days..  Do not wash kale until you are ready to use it.  


So..... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.


Simple but Good:


Roasted Kale Chips:

1 1/2 lb bunch of kale
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Rinse kale and pat dry with a paper towel (it must be dry to crisp).  Remove any stems.  In a large bowel toss the kale, olive oil, and pumpkin seeds.  Rub leaves with fingers to coat with oil.  Arrange leaves on baking sheets and add salt and black pepper.  Bake for 7 - 8 minutes until crisp.  If necessary bake another 2 - 5 minutes to be sure the leaves are crisp.
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