This year I resolved to break out of the boring veggie box and try vegetables that I traditionally avoided. From funny-shaped squashes to colorful leafy greens, I've scoured the market and tried a bit of everything. Of all of my produce adventures, the one veggie that's become a weekly addition to my cart is … drumroll please … kale!
What, you ask, is so great about kale?
If vegetables were rock stars, kale would be Madonna. Just like Madge, kale is inimitable, multi-talented, and a total powerhouse. It's one of the healthiest, most nutrient-packed veggies available. While cooking with kale might seem intimidating at first, it's actually a lot like spinach.
Kale, a member of the Brassica family, is cousins with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli. The main reason kale is so powerful is because of its high levels of vitamins A, C, and K as well as its density of carotenoids and flavonoids. Kale is also packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds critical for healthy eyes. In addition to all of the antioxidants, kale is also loaded with fiber. Fiber is vital for stomach health and in lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Of all of kale's numerous celebrity qualities, one of its greatest is its high concentration of vitamin K. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet rich in vitamin K, a powerful antioxidant, can decrease ones risk of developing cancer. When it comes to detoxification, kale truly tops the charts.
How, you ask, should I cook this curly green?
Like its relatives cabbage and Brussels sprouts, raw kale can be difficult to digest. When it's steamed, sautéed, or rubbed with olive oil, its rich, deep flavor is better appreciated. Take a peek at these simple yet delicious ways to cook up some kale:
• Make kale chips by tossing kale with olive oil and salt and baking at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
• Rub kale with olive oil and toss with quinoa, veggies of your choice, lemon and salt for a hearty salad.
• Sauté kale with olive oil, garlic cloves, salt and pepper and serve as a side.