- According to Technomic, a food industry consulting group, the use of kale on the menu has increased by over 400 percent over the past five years.
- Whole Foods reports that it sells 20,000 bunches a day nationwide.
What's Kale’s Story?
Kale is a member of the same family (Brassica) as cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. And like it’s family members is a descendent of wild cabbage found in Asia Minor. It made its way to Europe around 600 B.C and landed on our shores in the 17th century.
There are several varieties of kale that all look and taste different, but all still pack a nutrient punch.
- Curly kale is curly. The leaves are ruffled, the stalk is fibrous, and the color is deep green. Its flavor is pungent with a bitter peppery taste.
- Ornamental kale or salad savoy was first grown commercially in the 1980s in California. It was originally a decorative garden plant. The leaves can be green, white or purple. The flavor is mellow, and the texture is tender.
- Dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale was discovered in Italy. It is sweeter and more delicate than curly kale and has leaves that are dark-blue green with embossed texture.
How Do You Buy, Store & Prepare Kale?
When you are buying kale, always look for leaves that are firm, deeply colored, unwilted, free from browning, yellowing and small holes. The stems should be moist and hardy. If want milder flavor and more tender texture, go for the smaller-sized leaves.
Once you get it home, you should place it, unwashed, in a plastic storage bag with as little as possible air. It will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator but keep in mind, the longer it is stored, the more bitter is will be.
The easiest way to remove the stems is to lay the leaves flat on a cutting board and use a chef’s knife to cut along each side of the stem. This will keep the leaves from breaking. You can use the stems for composting.
Before you use your kale, make sure to rinse it under cold running water. You may need to place it a bowl of water, swish it around and then rinse to make sure all of the dirt has been removed. You’ll want to massage it a little to decrease some of its chewiness. If you want to preserve this king’s nutrients, texture, color and flavor, use a quick cooking method such as stir-fry. Kale can be substituted for spinach or collards greens in just about any recipe.
What Makes Kale A Nutrition Super Food?
Kale has twice as much vitamin C as an orange and 684% of your daily value of vitamin K. For only 33 calories per cup, you exceed your daily intake for calcium and vitamin A along with vitamins C and K. Kale is also a good source of copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. And lets not forget the fiber it provides.
So what benefits will you get from all that nutritional goodness:
- Vitamin K, a super powerful antioxidant, may reduce your risk for developing or dying from cancer. It also is involved in blood clotting which is a positive for most people unless you take an anticoagulant (warfarin).
- Fiber provides you with some cholesterol lowing benefits especially of you steam it. Steaming allows the components to better bind with the bile acids in your digestive tract so it is easier for them to be excreted.
- Kale can help your body detox.
- Some of the flavonoids found in kale have been shown to be powerful anti-inflammatory agents. It's a natural Advil.
- Kale can give boost your brain.
I have absolutely nothing against kale. Do I think maybe this food craze has gone a little crazy? Yes. When people started making cocktails using kale, I thought it had jumped the shark. I can't stop wondering if the movie 50 Shades of Kale will soon be coming to your local market? But I do love anything that gets Americans eating more vegetables. Instead of National Kale Day, maybe we should just have a National Vegetable Day. In my opinion, all vegetables (even tomatoes, the wanna be veggie that makes my skin crawl) deserve the same attention as kale. Variety is a necessary component of a healthy eating plan and makes taking a Real Bite much more interesting.
*Disclaimer-Some of the information included in this blog post was used in a blog post I wrote for OurLife Health and Fitness.