My mother never met a vegetable that she couldn’t improve upon with a heavy sauce and some French onion crisps. Or mix in a casserole with potato chip toppings. Or drown in some variety of Campbell’s soup (preferably Cream of Mushroom with those French onion crisps added again).
Is it any wonder I never viewed vegetables as part of a healthy diet?
But I’m all grown up now and I can’t blame mom for my unhealthy eating habits. And I certainly can’t avoid knowing that vegetables are an extremely important part of a healthy diet.
But knowing and doing something about it are two different things. There are just so many carrots, so much lettuce a gal can eat without wanting to run for the chocolate. Right?
Well, yes, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
That’s what I’m going to try to prove with these Saturday Vegetable Blogs. I’ll give you the inspirational information about why you should eat your vegetables, and then I’ll try to make it fun with some interesting recipes.
I’m starting with Kale. Kale comes in several varieties – the green curly kind
or Lacinato kale, better known as Dinosaur Kale
As you’ll see in one of the videos below, Kale has a reputation as being a garnish food; the inedible green stuff that’s supposed to make your plate of food look appealing. But Kale is so much more than that.
Did you know that Kale supposedly has more nutritional value in fewer calories than just about any food? It’s been called one of the most potent health promoting vegetables known to man. *
Kale is what’s known as a superfood. A member of the Brassica family (along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts), kale is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Kale is rich in antioxidants (helpful to build immunity), but Kale’s reputation is based on its sulfur-containing phytonutrients which are known to fight cancer and help the liver detoxify cancer causing chemicals. Kale is supposed to be particularly helpful in preventing/halting breast, ovarian and colon cancers. Kale also rates very high for its anti-inflammatory properties. Plus it’s extremely low in calories – only 33 per cup.
So what do we do with kale?
My favorite way to eat kale is to blanche it and then sauté lightly with onions and garlic. This summer I’ve been loving tossing in some zucchini and tomatoes and then serving over pasta. I’ve also added strips of it to spaghetti sauce, chopped it up in baked potatoes, mixed in with an omelet or with tabouli. That’s one of the great advantages; once you know how to prepare it, you can toss some of this potent superfood into almost anything you’re cooking.
So how do you prepare kale?
I’m a very visual person so I love to watch cooks who know what they’re doing. I wanted to post an excellent YouTube video that shows the basics of preparing kale, but this one is resisting imbedding so here’s a link – Kale 101.
The kale chips she mentioned? AWESOME! Even the best dieters among us have times when we just crave something salty and crunchy. Kale chips really do feed that urge.
The health food stores in my neighborhood have been carrying kale chips but they’re very expensive so I went looking for a way to make them. This video shows how, but I’d recommend adjusting for taste. I found the 1 Tablespoon of olive oil made them too oily for my taste. I’d either increase the amount of Kale or decrease the oil. I haven’t tried adding garlic or sesame seeds, but I’ve seen both recommended and I think they’d probably taste great.
I absolutely LOVE this recipe for raw kale salad. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve been considering doing something similar with the raw kale but substituting cranberry juice for the lemon and adding toasted walnuts (rich in Omega 3) and dried cranberries. I’ll let you know how it goes.
There’s also a delicious recipe for Creamy Kale Avocado salad posted on this blog – Whistler Whatever You have to scroll all the way down to the bottom.
There’s another delicious sounding recipe for a Lacinato Kale and Parmeggiano-Reggiano Salad (as well as some additional health info) at the Food Medic blog.
And finally, although it’s not yet soup season, I’m thinking ahead. I love Hale and Hearty’s Tuscan White Bean Soup so I was thrilled to find this recipe for White Bean Soup with Kale. Eric seems like a cook after my own heart, so enjoy the video.
I hope I’ve inspired you to give Kale a chance. Do you have any recipes for Kale that you’ve tried? Any questions about it? Any vegetables you’d like me to focus on?
Happy eating – enjoy your vegetables, but remember chocolate is good for you too.
Cautions – Kale is rich in Vitamin K so it can be problematic for people with clotting problems. You should also check with your doctor before eating it if you have thyroid problems.