As Registered Holistic Nutritionists we always recommend a whole foods based diet. Eating whole foods in their natural state is a healthy sustainable way to eat – always. When you eat food that hasn’t been processed, refined or denatured you’re getting all the fibre, vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients that Mother Nature intended you to have. Out of the abundance of wonderful food nature designed, there are a few stars. These ‘stars’ are powerhouses in the nutrient world. One of the stars you may be hearing a lot about is kale. Not only can you purchase kale locally, but is grown all year round so there is always plenty of fresh kale available.
So, why should you eat this powerhouse plant? Here are just a few of the benefits:
- Superstar in the arena of carotenoids and flavonoids, two powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from free radicals
- High doses of vitamin C, vitamin A, and manganese
- Excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin which protect the eyes from macular degeneration
- Kale has a leading dietary role in avoiding chronic inflammation
- Low in calories
- Good source of fiber, iron and calcium – kale’s calcium is actually more absorbable than calcium from spinach
- Kale is a cruciferous plant (like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) and a diet high in cruciferous vegetables can lower risk of some cancers
How to buy: look for deeply coloured, crisp, textured leaves free of blemishes and yellow spots – avoid limp or wilted leaves. There are many varieties: Dinosaur, Italian, Tuscan, Curly, Scotch, Russian. Chose the freshest or try different ones to see which of the subtle taste differences you like.
To Store: keep kale stored loosely in a plastic bag for up to 3 days
To prepare: cut stem out of leaves or hold stem and pull leaves– chop into small pieces.
Kale can be chewy so it is best when it is lightly steamed or sautéed or used in smoothies. If making a salad with kale allow it to sit in the dressing for 20 minutes or so to allow the leaves to soak up the dressing and soften.
Kale is a fabulous addition to smoothies and its taste is actually quite mild. To help minimize the flavour of kale add some cucumber and lemon into your smoothie. These vegetables complement each other and you will be pleasantly surprised by the taste. Honestly!
Here are a couple of recipes to get you started enjoying this super star of vegetables. The type of kale you choose doesn’t matter.
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 clove Garlic sliced
3 cups Kale sliced
1 cup Cottage cheese
2 tbsp Fresh lemon juice (more or less to taste)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 Warm oil in a pan over medium heat
2 Add garlic and simmer until it becomes fragrant
3 Add kale and cook until it is wilted and tender – approx 3 to 4 minutes
4 Drain and let cool
5 Transfer to a food processor
6 Add cottage cheese and puree until smooth
7 Season with red pepper flakes and lemon juice
8 Pulse to mix
Blend: kale, cucumber, lemon juice, frozen mango chunks, half of an avocado, an apple and coconut water (any measure or combination you like, but you may initially want to go lighter on the kale and cucumber until you get used to it) – try a 3 kale leaves and 3 inches of cucumber to start
Side of Kale
Lightly sauté de-stemmed, washed kale in a bit of olive oil until limp – add a little lemon or balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper
Patti Smyth and Nancy Buchanan are partners at holihealth, Nutritional and Lifestyle Trainers. We offer workshops and one-on-one consultations. Our motto is small steps for big change and whole health. We know it is difficult and confusing when you try to eat healthy so let us help you with small steps. www.holihealth.ca