Kale is a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition, containing vital components for health including beta carotene, vitamins A, C and K, as well as fiber, calcium, iron and magnesium. This superstar leafy green is a must when considering items to work into your everyday diet. Often overlooked in the produce section, kale (also called borecole) comes from the same family as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, yet it offers full, rich-colored leaves and sturdy stems.
Besides its excellent nutritional value, kale should be a staple in every person’s crisper due to its unique availability. Unlike many other vegetables that are best had in the summer months, kale can be grown in cool climates making its prime in-season time fall through early spring.
So, once you have this dream of a veggie in your house, what do you do with it? Here are my top three kale picks.
- Kale Smoothie. When looking for a quick burst of energy, not many things are as power-packed with healthy nutrients as the green smoothie. And just where does the green come from? Kale, of course. Create a simple base in the blender consisting of kale, a banana and a splash of nut milk, and then include additional fruits and veggies to taste, such as apples, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, cucumber, parsley or spinach. For a sweeter smoothie, consider adding agave nectar or dates to the mix. A handful of ice cubes will give the beverage a cool, crunchy consistency. Or, forgo the ice and freeze your banana prior to blending.
- Kale Salad. For those who prefer not to blend their food, kale also serves as an excellent base for salad. As a robust-flavored green, kale often pairs well with mellow lettuces, such as romaine and green leaf. (Remember: skip iceberg lettuce as its nutritional value is insignificant.) Add your favorite toppings: tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, bell pepper and almond slivers, and toss with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Or contrast kale’s hefty flavor with sweet fruits including mango, strawberries and mandarin oranges. Finish it off with a spritz of lemon juice.
- Kale Chips. Who thought something so good for you could be so tasty?! Kale chips allow you to scratch that itch for junk food while still honoring your commitment to health. Simply remove the ribs from the kale leaves, cut the leaves into large pieces, drizzle with olive oil, add a pinch of salt, and then bake. For a spicier snack, add a dash of cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes or chipotle seasoning.
So next time you are perusing the leafy greens at your grocery store, don’t skip over kale, a veggie that provides significant health benefits and can be enjoyed in a variety of different ways.