Kale

Kale is a remarkable member of the cruciferous vegetable family known for its ability to thrive during the cooler seasons of the year and its tendency to grow wild on many different continents, and especially in countries bordering along the Mediterranean Sea. The cool-season nature of kale can sometimes be reflected in its flavor. When exposed to frost, kale can sometimes take on a sweeter taste (that is due to the conversion of some kale starches into sugars). Overall, however, the taste of kale can be surprisingly varied, from bitter or peppery to more plain and slightly sweet.

The three types of kale that we have become familiar with in the produce section of today's grocery stores are actually domesticated versions of wild plants that took farmers hundreds of years to develop. These three types include (1) flatter, wider-leafed kale, (2) darker Lacinato-type kale, and (3) more tightly formed, curly leafed kale. The list below shows some common kale varieties belonging to each of these three types:

Health Benefits of Kale:  Kale is one of the most nutritionally dense vegetables. It is a good source of vitamin A (from beta-carotene), C and K plus copper. It is also a source of folate, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and manganese plus potassium. In addition it contains an array of phytonutrients including flavonoids, carotenoids and glucosinolates.

 
 
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Kale Superfood Salad with Quinoa and Blueberries

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 large bunch (about 6 cups) kale, tough stems removed and chopped (see my easy method for prepping kale!)
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (optional)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped

For the Dressing:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • a bit of black pepper

For the Dressing:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • a bit of black pepper

Directions

  1. Rinse and drain the quinoa. Place quinoa and 2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes until water is absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a large salad bowl. Add the kale and, using your hands, toss it with the dressing.
  3. Once the quinoa is cool, add it to the bowl with the kale, along with the chickpeas (if using), blueberries, goat cheese, almonds, and avocado. Toss gently to combine. Serve.

 Kale, Oat, and Blueberry Smoothie

Serves 1.

The health benefits of kale are endless. Kale is low in calories, high in fiber, high in anti-oxidants, and high in vitamins K, A, and C. Kale also helps to regulate the body’s anti-inflammatory process, and aids in detoxification. 

  • 1/2 cup kale leaves, torn and packed
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 heaping TBSP. greek yogurt
  • 3 TBSP. raw oats
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/4 cup milk of your choice
  • 1 tsp. honey (or more, to taste)
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Optional add-ins: ground flax seed, vanilla extract, cinnamon

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, about 2-3 minutes, making sure that the kale and oats are pureed. Enjoy! 

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Parmesan Chicken and Kale Sauté

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons 
  • olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds 
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves 
  • garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • large bunch flat-leaf kale (about 12 ounces), stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup 
  • dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup 
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon 
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add the onion, garlic, and pepper flakes to the skillet. Sauté until the onions are starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the kale, wine, and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kale is just tender.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Add the Parmesan and lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.