Adele Yedid MS, RD
We all somehow inherently know that kale is good for us. From fast food eaters to health food fanatics, children to adults, dietitians to laymen…kale is pretty much a universal health food. Even my computer seems to have gotten the memo on this nutritional giant. While gathering data on kale I typed the words “nutrition” into a Google search and before I could even type the words “of kale,” a funny thing happened. The first search option to pop up was “nutritional perks of kale.” Either my computer is psychic or there’s a major buzz surrounding the health benefits of this green vegetable.
So what’s the hype? Maybe it’s because kale is just so green, or probably because most people don’t like to eat it. We all know that the best test determining how good a food is for you is how bad it tastes, right? (Loud, annoying buzzer) WRONG! I would like the opportunity to disprove that.
Let me begin with a little background information on this “superfood.” Just like your favorite superhero, kale is tender yet strong (proven by its ability to be eaten from raw to braised), fights the bad guys (diseases like cancer and heart disease), puts things back where they belong (as in cholesterol and waste- you get it), and saves the good guys (provides a plethora of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals). Specifically, kale is an amazing source of antioxidant vitamins A and C, as well as one of the highest available food sources of vitamin K. It is actually so high in vitamin K (which works in blood clotting factors) that those on blood thinners may be advised to avoid it as it can be counteractive to their medication. Among the specific types of the antioxidants found in kale are the carotenoids and flavonoids, which are the primary factors giving kale its anti-cancer capabilities. I can continue, but I will spare you and simply say that going through kale’s nutritional roster makes me wonder if it was spinach Popeye was eating all that time.
I am aware that all this nutritional jargon may not be enough to convince some of you skeptics. My husband Eli was an avid kale chips hater. He would list it on his top 10 worst foods. He would make faces as I ate it at dinner. He strongly felt that I could eat it only because I am a registered dietitian who grew up on a macrobiotic diet, and I would agree to appease him. But despite that, I couldn’t prove to him that I truly did enjoy it. I had to find a way to present it to people like my husband who were on the other side.
And so, I searched and read and tested and tasted. What follows are two recipes that I feel can change your mind if it needs changing. I would like to showcase kale’s versatility by presenting it to you in both cooked and raw form. We will start for the faint of heart with a recipe for spicy kale chips, a crispy and light snack that your kids will fight over. From there we will graduate to enjoying kale in its green glory with my asian sesame kale salad, fresh, earthy and vibrant. Talk about spring cleaning!
For the purpose of my two recipes we will be using curly kale. Other varieties of kale are lacinato or dinosaur kale, as well as ornamental (purple) kale. When buying curly kale I like to look for a bunch that is full, firm and has tight curls. Kale that feels wilted is not fresh and will not have the flavor or nutrition that it should. The color should be deep, rich green, and free of yellowing and obvious blemishes. I choose organic kale which is free of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
Kale should be thoroughly washed, leaf by leaf in cold water. It can then be gathered it in a salad spinner, sprayed with a vegetable wash and allowed to soak for 2-3 minutes to get rid of any critters or dirt that may still be present. Spin it dry and you are ready to go.
Always remove the tough center stem of the kale, then chop to your desired sized pieces
SPICY KALE CHIPS
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (in sprayer bottle such as misto)
- ¼ tsp sea or Himalayan salt
- ¼ tsp hot pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Wash kale, remove hard inner stem, cut into bite size pieces
- Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (if a misto is not available, simply drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat evenly)
- Optional: sprinkle with any or all of the following for added flavor: lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, sesame seeds, cumin
- Place on parchment lined baking tray, bake for 15-20 min until crispy but not burnt on edges.
ASIAN RAW SESAME KALE SALAD
- 1 bunch kale (yield approx 8 cups)
- 2 cups purple cabbage (sliced thin)
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallions
- ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds (I buy raw, hulled seeds and toast myself)
- Optional: ¼ cup currants
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tsp brown rice vinegar
- 2 tbs tamari
- 1 tsp agave nectar
- 1-2 garlic cloves (crushed)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- Wash and dry kale thoroughly, cut out tough center and chop into bite size pieces
- Chop cabbage and scallions, shred carrots
- Toast sesame seeds in pan over low flame, moving pan continuously. Take out of pan at first sign of toasting. Do not allow to burn, should get tan
- Combine kale, cabbage, carrots, scallion and sesame seeds (and currants if using)
- Mix all dressing ingredients and add to salad. You can dress this salad in advance, as the kale can withstand the dressing and it will allow the flavors to develop.
- Serving suggestion: as seen in the photo, serve atop a bowl of soba noodles and vegetables in dashi for a balanced meal.
I hope that I have been successful in tempting you to try this nutritional powerhouse. I figured if I haven’t convinced you as of yet I will leave you with the thoughts of my macho husband texting me from the work just the other day: “Hey, is there any kale salad left? I’ll send someone over to pick it up.” Now that’s victory.
Are you willing to take the plunge?
contact me at AyedidRD@gmail.com