What better way to kick off the first full month of spring then with another green veggie!
We love this earthy bouquet of greens because it’s affordable, tastes great and is packed with high quality nutrients – what more can you ask of a vegetable?
Kale, a descendent of the wild cabbage, is an easy to grow vegetable that is actually quite hardy as it thrives in cooler climates, and as a matter of fact, taste sweeter with a little frost. Kale can be found in grocery stores year round, but is in peak season midwinter through spring. Whatever taste, texture or appearance preferences you may have, Kale can satisfy them thanks to its different varieties – curly, ornamental or dinosaur.
1 cup serving, raw – 33 calories
• 7 g carbohydrate
• 1.5 g fiber
• 2 g protein
• 0 g fat
• 57 g water
Surprised to see calcium benefits in this 101 post? Don’t be. Calcium rich foods do not only come from milk products, they are found in some meats (sardines, caviar, canned salmon with bones), meat alternatives (tofu, tahini) and vegetables. A one cup serving (raw) of Kale provides about 90.5 mg of highly absorbable calcium. Current recommendations for this important mineral are 1000mg/day for men & women aged 19-50, as we age (51+ years) our need increases to 1200mg/day.
*Other vegetables sources of calcium: collards, spinach, turnip greens.
• Builds strong bones and teeth
• Prevents osteoporosis
• Helps with muscle contraction, including the heart.
Last month’s Brussels Sprouts post highlighted the health promoting phytochemicals of the cruciferous vegetable family. According to research, however, Kale was found to have double the polyphenolic content of cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts!
Is your diet lacking vitamin A? Kale is an excellent (and I mean excellent!) source of Vitamin A. Recommendations call for 700 RAE/day for females and 900 RAE/day for male, 1 cup (raw) Kale contributes an abundant 3,122 RAE’s, wow!
Vitamin A benefits:
• Support healthy eyes, and aids with seeing the dark.
• Contributes to protein synthesis and cell differentiation, for normal growth and development.
• Promotes a healthy defense system (skin, stomach, intestines, and respiratory tracts)
• Supports a healthy reproduction system
Recommendations for vitamin K are 120 mcg /day for men, and 90mcg /day (for adults 19 + years); a 1 cup serving of Kale provides 547 mcg.
Vitamin K benefits:
• Makes blood clotting proteins. When you cut yourself, these proteins help make the bleeding stop.
• Helps make other proteins for your bones, blood, and kidneys.
Recommendations for this vitamin are 75-90mg/day, Kale supplies about 80.4 mg per 1 cup serving (raw).
Vitamin C benefits:
• Helps our bodies absorb iron from plant sources (as much as four times!)
• Has a big role in our immune system, Helps keep our immune system healthy
• Antioxidant – scavenges damaging free radicals in our bodies. Since it is water soluble, it destroys free radicals in a lot of different areas of our bodies.
• Helps keep gums, bones, and muscles healthy
How to: Pick & Store
Pick: Choose Kale bunches that are deep green (depending on the variety). Leaves should be smaller, firm and free from any wilting or yellow leaves.
Store: Keep unwashed Kale in the fridge crisper, the longer it is stored the more bitter the taste, so use within 5 days.
Ruffled leaves make an excellent hiding place for dirt; make sure to wash Kale thoroughly under cool water. Remove the tough center stem, and chop leaves into smaller portions. As far as cooking is concerned, studies have shown that steaming Kale improves the cholesterol lowering ability of fiber; with that said, our number one preparation method is steaming.