The first time I tried kale was in a salad and I didn’t like it. I tend to be a bit of a ‘super’ taster and I found the bitter components in kale were too strong for my palette. However, being the dedicated Dietitian, I went on a mission to find ways to use kale in recipes. Why am I going to this trouble to get kale into my body you may wonder? Well kale is one of the most nutrient dense veggies in our food supply and some would consider it a Super Food.
Kale… the Super Food
Kale is part of the cabbage family. One cup of fresh kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fibre,15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6, 40% of magnesium, over 100% of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. It is important to eat kale in both the raw and cooked forms to get the maximum nutrition.
Health Benefits of Kale
- Anti-aging and anti-cancer
- Kale contains high concentrations of the antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids. These compounds are linked to the health benefits of anti-aging and anti-cancer.
- Kale contains glucosinolates, which may reduce your risk of a variety of cancers including colon, breast and ovarian.
- Decreases inflammation
- Kale contains the plant form of omega-3 fatty acid (ALA) and vitamin K, which assists in regulating the body’s inflammatory process.
- Heart Health
- When kale is cooked, its fibre can bind bile acids, helping to lower blood cholesterol, which can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Growing, Buying and Storing Kale
Kale is available all over the world and mostly grown in Europe. Kale is at its best in winter. Look for kale leaves that are fresh green and crisp, not yellow or wilted. Choose kale with smaller-sized leaves since these will be tender and have a milder flavor than those with larger leaves. Keep kale cold because it will deteriorate in warm temperatures. After buying kale, keep it unwashed in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your fridge. Wrap a wet paper towel around the leaves to lengthen the freshness. The taste of kale gets stronger the longer you store it, so try to use it within a week.
Some people love the taste of kale, however if you're like me, you’ll need a few tips for putting kale into your meal plan. Kale gets more bitter the longer it hangs around after harvesting. So use kale when it is fresh and young! Another way to help with the bitter taste of kale is to steam it. Use kale in recipes with lemon zest/juice, garlic, tahini and sodium reduced soy sauce. These ingredients help mask the bitter flavour. Remember – kale is so nutrient dense, just eating small amounts on a regular basis, you will still reap the healthy benefits!
This is one of my favourite and easy recipes to include kale into your diet. Give it a try!
Pasta, Kale and Mushroom Toss
3 tbsp of olive oil
8 medium sized crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tbsp of garlic, minced
3 cups of kale, rinsed, chopped, uncooked
½ cup of tahini
1 tsp of sodium reduced soy sauce
3 cups of cooked pasta (your choice!)
Directions (Makes 6 Side Servings)
Sauté mushroom slices in olive oil, when mostly cooked, add kale. Add lemon juice, garlic and cooked pasta, sauté for five minutes; add tahini, and soy sauce to taste. Feeling adventurous – add your favourite hot sauce and grated parmesan cheese.