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Experiment with kale. You’ll be glad did, since it is a very nutritious cruciferous vegetable. Also called ‘curly kale,’ it looks like a genetically enhanced bunch of parsley. Its large, frilly leaves can vary in color from dark green to purple.
This loose-leafed green vegetable belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts that have gained recent widespread attention due to their health promoting, sulfur-containing phytonutrients
HOW TO CHOOSE
Available year-round, kale is at its best once it’s been nipped by frost. Sounds backwards, but it is a cold-weather crop and is best included into your familiy’s diet from December through April to experience a more flavourful, sweeter taste.
Choose a bunch with vibrant colour and moist, crisp small leaves. Stay clear from kale that is turning yellow – a sign of age – or has wilted stems and tired-looking greens.
Although it is prized for its endurance in the ground, once harvested and home, kale should be used as soon as possible. It will keep in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag in a vegetable crisper for about two days.
Thoroughly clean kale by dunking it in lukewarm water several times and then rinsing under cold running water. Small kale leaves can be used whole. The larger leaves should be stripped or cut from the center rib (stalk). To shred the leaves, place them in a pile, roll up, and then thinly slice them.
The stalks, which are generally tough, are usually discarded if they are more than 1/8 inch thick and only the leaf is eaten. If small and fresh, the stalks can be chopped into small pieces and cooked with the leaves.
Kale leaves are commonly used as a garnish for food presentation or as a cooked vegetable. Too tough to consume raw, mature kale must be cooked. It can be steamed, but tastes best when boiled or simmered in vegetable broth.
The following ideas just might convince you to add this delicious, nutrient abundant vegetable to your meal plan:
Kale with white beans and sausage is a traditional Portuguese soup.
Many people serve this mixed with sautéed bacon and onions, or mix it with potatoes.
Kale is so versatile it can be added to salads (Raw baby kale leaves can be a regular addition to mix along with your salad greens)
Steamed, blanched, braised and sautéed, stir fried, or added to soups and stews.
To boil: Appreciating the very soft, mild results, traditional Scottish recipes call for long cooking-about 40 minutes. However, if you desire a slightly crunchy texture, boil for a mere 5 to 8 minutes.
To stir-fry or sauté: It is optional to first boil the kale for about 5 minutes to enhance its flavour. Either way, sauté in oil with onions and garlic for about five minutes over medium heat. Turn down the heat and add garlic, fresh lemon juice, and toasted sesame oil; stir for another 5 minutes. Another way to add a bit of kick to the taste is to stir-fry in a bit of bacon fat. Here’s another idea: sauté with red peppers and spinach in a warm salad.
To microwave: With just enough water to cling to its leaves, place the kale, in a covered microwave-safe dish. Cook on high for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring after 4 minutes. Let stand, covered for 3 minutes before serving.
To cream: Blanch first and make according to creamed spinach directions.
Complimentary Seasonings: Good ways to flavour kale are to add any of the following: garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, toasted sesame oil, cinnamon, caraway seeds, currants, or toasted pine nuts.
Kale provides us with much needed nutrients and associated health benefits for fewer calories than most foods:
Absolutely rich and abundant in calcium, lutein, iron, and Vitamins A, C, and K
Has seven times the beta-carotene of broccoli and ten times more lutein
Is rich in Vitamin C not to mention the much needed fiber so lacking in the daily diet of processed food eating North Americans
Natural occurring all important phytochemicals sulforaphane and indoles which research suggests may protect against cancer
The all important antioxidant Vitamin E
Naturally rich sulfur content
Kale (raw), 1 cup (67g)
Total Fat: 0.47g
*Excellent source of: Vitamin C (80mg), and Vitamin A (5,963 IU)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
- Kale is also know as Borecole, Cow Cabbage or Kail.
- Kale is an ideal substitute for Collard Greens, Flowering Kale, Swiss Chard, Rapini, or Mustard Greens.
- Sulforaphane is formed when cruciferous vegetables like kale are chopped or chewed. This somehow triggers the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer causing chemicals, of which we all are exposed on daily basis. A recently new study in the Journal of Nutrition (2004) demonstrates that sulforaphane helps stop breast cancer cell proliferation.
- Kale descends from the wild cabbage which originated in Asia and is thought to have been brought to Europe by the Celtics. Kale was an important food item in early European history and a crop staple in ancient Rome. Kale was brought to the USA during the 17th century by English settlers.