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Volume III
July 19, 2013

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

All Hail Kale!

By Alice Osborne

Fans of kale everywhere will agree-this is one super-food that deserves our praise and attention.

A food is considered a "super-food" if it is nutritionally dense (chia seeds, red cherries, avocados, flax seed, broccoli are others, just to name a few). And kale is at the top of the nutritionally dense super-food list. This dark leafy green is packed full of fiber and vitamins. In fact, just one little cup of cooked kale contains:

  • 2.5 grams of protein
  • 354 percent of your RDA for vitamin A (beta-carotene)
  • 89 percent of your RDA for vitamin C
  • 1328 percent of your RDA for vitamin K
  • 27 percent of your RDA for manganese

Its high beta-carotene content means it helps protect your body from cancer and heart disease and the vitamin K helps keep your blood healthy, and along with manganese contributes to good bone health.

Kale's bone health contributions come from the fact that it has a good balance of calcium to magnesium. Calcium is touted as being so critical to bone health, but without magnesium, your body can't properly absorb calcium. Without a proper balance of calcium to magnesium, even conditions like arthritis are improved.

It's easy to grow, too. Kale is the most cold-hardy vegetable you can grow. It will even survive snows. And it's seldom a victim of bug infestation like the squash family is. And there are a few varieties to choose from-each with their own distinctive look, taste, and nutritional profile.

Curly kale is the most common variety-the one you'll always see in the produce section of the grocery store. If used in green drinks you'll want to strip the leaves off the tough woody stalk.

Lacinto kale is the 2nd most likely variety to be found in our grocery stores. It is also very cold hardy. It is more tender, so it deteriorates quicker than other varieties when kept for more than a couple days in the fridge.

Premier kale is a new variety and is prized for its early maturity and cold hardiness.

Redbor kale is really pretty-it walks a fine line between a food crop and a landscaping ornamental. Kale connoisseurs say it's not as tasty and a little tough. But it seems like a smart idea to grow some in the landscape: a pretty garden and a food source as well--that's a good ROI!

Siberian kale looks a lot like Curly Kale except that the leaves are HUGE. It also can take a real beating from cold weather or pests.

Then there's Walking Stick Kale. Some folks landscape with it as well.

Red Russian kale is similar to Siberian Kale in its hardiness, Red Russian boasts beautiful red leaf stalks and tender twisting intricate leaves.

We have a neighbor that landscapes with this kale, Kamome Red. I always wondered how it tasted. "While pretty to look at, don't be fooled. It's nasty bitter!" Carol told me.

Who knew there were so many types of kale? I've been using Curly Kale in my green drinks every morning, but I think it's time to branch out and do a little experimenting with some of these other varieties.

I've also been experimenting with making kale into chips. They're delicious and it's easy to do. Wash a bunch of kale well. Let drain then pat dry. Cut the leaves in 3 or 4 pieces then place all the pieces in a large plastic bag. Drop in 1/4 olive oil and sprinkle well with a good salt. Close the bag and shake, shake, shake, so all the leaves are coated with the oil and salt. Lay them out on dehydrator shelves and dehydrate for about 3 hours (maybe more-depends on the weather) at 115°. Store in an air tight container. They won't hang around long. (NOTE: You can also make kale chips in your oven on cookie sheets--375° for 15 minutes.)


Alice Osborne
Weekly Newsletter Contributer since 2006

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