kale is the new spinach

I can understand Mitch and Cam’s vexation upon learning this new fad in the farmers’ market social sphere. Kale is an intimidating vegetable force with its large, rough, dark green leaves and strong, bitter taste. But get used to it, boys. Kale is way too good for you for its popularity to fade any time soon. Plus, if you know how to prepare it, it’ll be your best friend- and you know you want to be best friends with the cool kid.

What warrants kale’s esteem? The dark, leafy aspect should tip you off right away. These characteristics usually mean fiber, antioxidants, vitamins A and C, folate, calcium, and iron. Kale also has anti-inflammatory properties, which means it will help keep heart problems, arthritis, and blood pressure in check, and has been linked like broccoli to lowering your risk of some cancers. Eating kale raw is definitely the best way to insure these nutrients going to work for you, but this is also the most daunting and least palatable. My raw recommendations:

  • When salad-ing, cut it up tiny to make it easier to chomp
  • Good mix-ins: cranberries, feta, pine nuts, almonds.  Works really well with quinoa, too.
  • Dressing: olive oil and citrus juice is my favorite! Try just a few teaspoons of oil, some sea salt, and squeezing a grapefruit, orange, or lemon over your salad.

Of course you CAN, and should cook kale as well.  Even when you’re making a cold salad, you can steam it for a few minutes to soften it up.  Steaming is definitely the healthiest, most nutrient-preserving method of cooking.  However, when all else fails… make kale chips.  Kale’s most exciting attribute by far is how easily it becomes a crunchy, delicious, chip-like snack! Just toss chopped or torn leaves in a tiny bit of olive oil (literally a teaspoon for an entire head of kale will suffice), sprinkle with sea salt, and stick in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350.  You can play with how crunchy you make them- the first time, I cooked them into literal CRISPS, which I enjoyed.  But a slightly more chewy chip is awesome, too, and is definitely more nutrient dense.  The downfall: they don’t really last and are best right out of the oven (I think the crispier you make them, the more you’ll enjoy them the next day).  I haven’t tried this, but I have a thought about making a salad from day-old chips.  Try it and let me know.

the raw kale, ready for crispin'

chips! they don't shrink as much as it seems here- I had already eaten some. sorryboutit.

Other awesome kale recipes for your enjoyment:

http://peasandthankyou.com/2011/02/17/slow-redemption/

http://edibleperspective.com/2011/01/detox-day-2-recipes/l

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/garlicky-greens-recipe.htm

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/heathers-quinoa-recipe.html

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3 thoughts on “kale is the new spinach

  1. Did you know that in New Zealand, only animals eat kale? My friend grew up on a farm there and whenever he returns to visit, his parents think it’s weird that he eats a food typically eaten only by cows. He made me a video of cows eating kale which I’m just in love with: they way they chew it is adorable (kale hanging out of their mouths, etc). I’ll see if I can’t upload it one of these days and send it to you! PS. I love kale. The only thing I don’t like about it is how much room it takes up in my fridge.

  2. Kale is great in soup- the really vibrant green it turns when heated is terrific. Alex and I also add it to stir fry meals, it stands up well to smoked tofu and chick peas.

  3. Inspired by QLB, I made kale chips tonight, and HELLO, so good. SO GOOD! After cleaned and prepped, the pile of leaves was HUGE, so I opted to just bake half, thinking the whole bunch would be excessive. When the chips came out of the oven we DEVOURED them in literally less than 3 minutes. Needless to say, the remaining half of kale immediately went in and we inhaled round 2. I was so amazed at how delicious and simple it was to make these amazing chips, I became curious about the stems; so I chopped em up, prepped as suggested, and into the oven they went. They took twice as long to get crispy since they’ve more moisture than the leaves, and when done reminded me of an al dente asparagus texture, but all in all the stems were good! Totally edible, just a little more work and, IMHO, aren’t as exciting as the crispy leaves. But hey, fun experiment! Hands down, crispy kale is my new favorite chip. Thank you for your super fun reads and great suggestions Em!

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