Not too long ago Kale was a real unknown in the world of vegetables. People thought of it as nothing more than a plate garnish of even a lower status than parsley. Lately, however, that’s no longer the case. Kale has become much more popular ever since word spread about its remarkable nutritional value.
One cup of chopped kale has more Vitamin C than an orange, and it’s also a very good source of Vitamin A. Kale also provides more calcium per 100 grams than you will get in 100 grams of milk!
We don't typically think of our greens as sources of even healthful fats. But kale is actually a great source of (ALA), the omega-3 fatty acid that's essential for brain health, and which reduces Type 2 diabetes risk and boosts heart health.
Don’t overdo it
A quick word of caution: Like with anything, too much of such a good thing as kale can be non-beneficial. “There are a couple of controversial things about kale that are worth mentioning," says Deirdre Orceyre, a naturopathic physician at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the George Washington University Medical Center. It’s large concentration of Vitamin K can be a problem for people taking blood thinners and other medications because it promotes clotting; the green also contains oxalates, which in lab tests have been associated with kidney stones and some gallstones.
We often hear that adding fiber to your diet is good for your digestive system but watch out for kale as you might bite off more than you can chew. Raw kale in particular "can be hard on the digestive system" says Orceyre, — meaning it can cause bloating, gas and other abdominal issues — "and also contains a compound that can suppress thyroid function in certain people," she adds. That's why she doesn't recommend eating the vegetable uncooked or juicing it more than once or twice a week, though she says you can eat as much of the cooked veggie as you like. Finally, Orceyre cautions that kale crops are often sprayed with pesticides, so buy organic if you can manage it, and in all cases be sure to clean vegetables well to wash away any surface chemicals.
Tips to help with taste
Indeed, good overall preparation is essential if you want to enjoy that giant bag of kale, which has a well-deserved reputation for being tough and bitter. To avoid bitterness cut the center stem out. That's what makes it really tough. Cut out the larger stems and slice the leaves into strips, then wash them thoroughly and sprinkle them with baking soda or baking powder to tenderize. If you are new to kale, start out using baby kale, which is less bitter and more tender, and can be easier and quicker to work with.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking
Rinse kale leaves under cold running water. Chop leaf portion into 1/2" slices and the stems into 1/4" lengths for quick and even cooking. To get the most health benefits from kale, let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration. There are differing schools of thought on this but most nutritionists agree that the healthiest way to prepare kale is steaming. Fill the bottom of a steamer pot with 2 inches of water. While waiting for the water to come to a rapid boil chop greens. Steam for 5 minutes and toss with your favorite vinaigrette.
Are you ready for what just may be your first adventure in kale? Well now is a good time try as it’s featured this week at Brookhaven Marketplace for just 69¢ a bunch. Here are a number of kale recipes to get you started.
Credits – much of the material in this blog came from an article published in the Washington Post 9/25/2012 written by Carolyn Butler