My first encounter with kale was at the restaurant where I worked during my undergrad days. On break with one of the chefs, I enquired about the pretty green garnish accompanying a lot of the dishes.
“That’s kale,” he said.
“Is it, uhh, edible?”
So I tried it, and although not particularly impressed by the taste, still wondered why it was only ever used as a garnish. Something that green had to be healthy.
Years later, kale still remained to me merely the garnish vegetable: lush, deep green, aesthetically pleasing, and edible if you’re willing to risk looking foolish and eat the decoration. My how I wish I’d have taken the initiative to give kale a chance back then. If kale could speak it would most certainly have scoffed at my notion of it as a garnish, because, let’s be honest here, kale is amazing in every sense of the word and I’m sure it knows it’s the rock star of the veggie world.
I’m truly saddened by the fact that I missed out on so many years that could have been spent cultivating a relationship with my now beloved. Before you get all judgy about my seemingly over-the-top obsession with a veggie, read on for my kale-loving rationale, and if you still feel my infatuation is unwarranted, go out and buy yourself a bag of kale chips. Preferably vegan hemp cream flavored. Eat. Fall in love. Repeat. Many times.
A Nutritional Powerhouse
It’s no secret that kale will knock your nutritional socks off. A star member of the cabbage family, this super-veggie is chalk full of nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants.
Here’s what you’ll get from a cup:
90% of the daily requirement of vitamin C
20% of the daily requirement of manganese
354% of the daily requirement of vitamin A
1328% of the daily requirement of vitamin K
And 10% of the daily requirement fiber and copper
It’s also a good source of, calcium and vitamin B6 (9% of the daily requirement each), iron, potassium and magnesium.
In addition, the sulforaphane in kale gives it anti-cancer properties and its flavonoids contribute to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. It’s pretty hard to be anti-kale given all these health-promoting properties. Not a fan of the bitter taste? There are many ways around that…
One of my potluck specialties that is always a hit at vegan and non-vegan functions alike is my kale salad. It’s usually the first thing to go and I often get hit up for the recipe afterwards. What’s the secret to a successful kale salad? It’s treating raw kale like you would your partner when he or she is feeling raw: massaging! Kale loves nothing more than to be massaged in a salad, and who isn’t less bitter after a good massage? Massaging kale for about five minutes helps to tone down its bite while leaving all its nutrients intact. Kale salad in it’s simplest form would be thinly chopped, mixed with shredded carrots, purple cabbage and some Bragg’s massaged in, or you can go a bit more fancy with a tahini dressing and a variety of other veggies. Kale also hits it off with avocado, which you can use your hands to massage right into the salad as well.
Simply Steamed, Souped, or Smoothied
Kale makes a great side dish and can easily be steamed in five minutes. Simply remove the stems and steam either in a steamer basket or a sauté pan. For some extra oomph add some garlic and olive oil. Add kale to soups for a nutritional boost or let it shine as the main ingredient as in the kale soup found here.
Looking to bolster the nutrient density of your morning green smoothie? Add a cup of kale and slurp healthily away. This is a great way to incorporate kale into your diet if you still can’t get over its bitter taste: you can hardly taste it when it’s blended in with yummy fruits, berries, orange juice or non-dairy milks.
Kale chips are one of those rare foods that defy the tenet of ‘if it tastes that good it must be bad for you.’ Whether you buy them from the store or make them yourself, they will leave your mouth wanting more. I love the simplicity of baking this delicious snack. To make kale chips in the oven, tear raw kale into bite size pieces, gently coat with some olive oil, salt and Nutritional Yeasts, place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They will turn dark green and come out nice and crispy.
For all of the above reasons, kale is tops in my veggie books. Just to reiterate, because I can’t state this enough, veggies don’t get much cooler than kale. But don’t take my word for it – now that your appetite for kale has (hopefully) been titillated, go out and start your own love affair with this luscious leafy lady.