Eat Your Greens! (A Guide) - KALE

If you want to take just one step towards a healthier lifestyle, start adding more leafy green vegetables into your diet. As I've mentioned previously, greens give you energy!  They also fight disease and help you lose weight. 

Okay, that all sounds well and good, but not pumped about eating salads every meal? Good news: you don't have to! In fact, you never have to eat salad if you don't want to. Totally turned off by the sound of a green smoothie? That's okay. I'm here to help you find out what types of greens you DO like and how to prepare them so YOU enjoy eating them.

Over the next few weeks I am going to be shining the spotlight on some different types of greens and easy ways to enjoy these nutrient powerhouses.  In case you missed it, last week we covered collard greens.

This week we will talk about KALE!

Think you know everything there is to know about kale (and maybe that is that you don’t particularly enjoy it…)? Think again!  While raw kale salad is not everyone’s cup of tea, there are plenty of different, delicious ways to enjoy this trendy green.

Similar to collard greens and broccoli, kale hails from the cabbage family.  It is rich in iron (more per calorie than beef!), calcium (more per calorie than milk!), and protein (3 grams per cup!), as well as vitamins A, C, and K.   One cup of kale has 10% of your recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune disorders.  Kale also contains sulfur and fiber, which naturally help the body rid itself of harmful toxins.  

         image via popsugar.com

         image via popsugar.com

Ready to give this green another chance?  Here’s a quick rundown on the different types of kale out there:

  • Curly Kale (Green or Red)- Best served cooked or steamed, this type of kale is the heartiest of the bunch.  Great for kale chips or paired with pasta, the nooks and crannies of this type of kale hold sauce well. 

  • Red Russian Kale - Hearty and beautiful, this kale has flat leaves reminiscent of oak or arugula.  The stem of this type of kale is particularly tough and woody, so make sure you remove it before eating.

  • Dinosaur/Lacinato/Tuscan Kale - This type of kale has a flatter leaf and is more tender than its curly cousin, making it a good bet for raw salads and slaws. 

  • Baby Kale - My current crush, baby kale, may win over kale-haters.  It’s much more tender than mature kale, making it perfect for salads, smoothies, and quick stir frys.  Kale-haters - try this! You may be pleasantly surprised. 

When buying kale, it’s recommended to choose organic (see the Environmental Working Group’s website for the full ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of produce you should buy organic).  Look for leaves that are firm and stems that are strong.  Wash the kale thoroughly before using.

Besides cooking and seasoning, there are two things you can do to make kale more palatable and easier to digest.  First, remove the ribs of the kale.  You can do this with a knife or simply with your hands.  Second, if you are planning on eating the kale raw, you will want to massage it to breakdown the fibers and make the kale less bitter.  See this awesome video for a demonstration. 

Ready to give kale a second chance?  Here are some ideas:

Are you a kale fanatic or new to this green?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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