I know, kale is a long overdue topic.  There have been entire weekly roundups dedicated to tofu, quinoa, and even greenish-brown juices, but we’ve completely overlooked kale, aka “the queen of greens.”

It may be because kale seems to be a love-it or hate-it kind of a green, and we’ve needed some time to fall in love.  For a lot of people, and especially in the virtual world of food bloggers, the dark green leaves have generated an almost obsessive following.  I’m not quite there yet, but I do understand the hype.

Five words: Kale. Is. A. Nutritional. Powerhouse.

The benefits of kale, with the help of AARP:

  • For your eyes: Kale is high in lutein and zeaxanthin, phytochemicals found in the retina, which could reduce the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people.
  • For your immune system: Kale is rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A), a powerful antioxidant that may help boost the immune system and possibly protect against some chronic diseases and cancer.
  • For your bones: Kale is one of the few vegetables with a decent amount of calcium, but it’s especially high in magnesium—just 1 cup contains 40% of the RDA—which is very important for bone health and to protect against osteoporosis.
  • For your heart: Foods like kale that are naturally high in antioxidants are heart-healthy, according to the Cleveland Clinic.  Not only that, kale’s magnesium and potassium help lower blood pressure and its high fiber content can help lower cholesterol—all beneficial factors in lowering your risk of cardiovascular illness.

The very simple point being: eat more kale.

To Prepare Kale:

  • Use a knife to cut out the tough center rib and chop the leaves into ribbons or bite-sized pieces.
  • That center rib is edible, though fairly fibrous, and you can treat it like celery and chop it into its to cook with a soup or a sauce.
  • The leaves can be eaten raw, sautéed until wilted, simmered into a soup, or even roasted until crisp.

5 ways to eat kale, by yours truly:

1. Raw, in a salad: Kale doesn’t need to be cooked to be enjoyed.  If you slice it into very fine ribbons, it makes a great salad!  It’s rough texture and slightly bitter taste are the perfect match for a tangy lemon and sweet mango, as in our Avocado-Mango Kale Salad.

2. Cooked: Kale is a notoriously tough reen, and while it can be great in raw salads, sometimes it’s better served softly sautéed with olive oil and soy sauce, then served on top of rice, like the Asian Shiitake, Kale & Rice Bowl.

3. In a soup: Kale’s study texture makes it the perfect green to throw into a pot of soup.  It doesn’t fall apart into moist strings like spinach.  Rather, it can stand alongside other hearty, flavorful ingredients like the brown rice and chili powder in our Rustic Tomato, Rice & Kale Stew.

4. In pasta: Just like in soups, kale doesn’t wilt too much or lose its toothsome texture when cooked with pasta.  Even though it might sound strange at first to let the greens be the star of a pasta dish, this simple Pasta with Kale and Garlic will make it clear why we like it that way.

5. As snack chips: You’ve probably heard about kale chips—they’ve become a legendary vegan foodie staple, perhaps because of how much healthier they are than regular potato chips. You can either go the simple route and toss kale with olive oil and salt, then bake them.  Or you could go our Cheesy Kale Chip way (we strongly recommend the latter).

Other kale chip fans from around the web:

Chopped Kale Salad + Creamy Almond Ginger Dressing via Edible Perspective: “Kale salads are awesome.  Especially when all of the veggies are finely chopped, covered in a creamy almond dressing infused with ginger, and topped with marinated portabella mushrooms.”

Kale Pesto Bean Dip via A Couple Cooks: “The recipe turned out just as we expected – bursting with flavor, and a wonderful way to introduce veggies into a table of party food. You could try it out for an appetizer before the meal –perhaps to tide over your hunger during that critical cooking period?”

Curry Tofu Tacos with Pintos & Kale Slaw via The Post Punk Kitchen: “And the Kale Slaw is my favorite hippy vegan recipe, and really not much more difficult than making guacamole. It’s sliced into shreds, and doused in a creamy garlicky dressing of avocado, tahini, and red wine vinegar. So easy! Even though there are a few components, the entire recipe should only take 30 minutes or so.”

Spiced Lentil, Sweet Potato, and Kale Whole-Wheat Pockets via The Kitchen: “Stuffed with spiced lentils, kale and mashed roasted sweet potato, these sturdy vegan pastries freeze well and taste great hot or at room temperature, so whether you’re sitting in your cubicle or cruising at 30,000 feet, you can have a wholesome meal ready whenever you are.”

Chickpea, Spring Onion + Tuscan Kale Salad via The First Mess: “As humbly and deliciously as I can offer, I made you a salad primarily composed from chickpeas and stale bread this week. The vegetable component is 3 distinct alliums (just onions y’all). The grassy chives, the pungent red bulb onion and sweet charred leeks. These flavours epitomize early spring for me.”


About the Author

Sarah Jung

Sarah Jung is the associate director of Life and Health Network but wears a plethora of hats as editor, communications director, and sometimes photographer. Unrelated to Life and Health, Sarah is the country director and founding member of Oon Jai Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower people living in developing countries through friendship and working, learning, and mentoring side-by-side with the locals. In her spare time, Sarah likes to read, write, and find mountains to climb.

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