Thursday, June 26, 2008

Farmer's Market: Kale!

This week I want to introduce you to one of the greatest nutrition powerhouses out there in veggieland: kale! I know... if you haven't tried it, and have been subsisting on a diet of potato chips and bacon cheeseburgers, you are going, "Yuck! Why would I want to eat LEAVES??" Well let me tell you why!

One cup of boiled kale has 88.8% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, 192% of your RDA of Vitamin A, and 1327% of your RDA of Vitamin K! It also contains significant amounts of manganese, fiber, copper, calcium, B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, phosphorus, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Kale contains phytonutrients that help prevent cancer, detoxify your cells, lower cataract risk, and protect against rheumatoid arthritis. And all this for only 36 calories per cup (cooked). (See an impressive chart of nutrients found in kale as well as more info on kale's health benefits at WHF: Kale).

And did I mention it's delicious? It's also very filling.

At the Farmer's Market, I noticed several kinds of kale. There was curly kale, Russian red kale, and dinosaur (Lacinato) kale. All three have been really great as part of my healthy eating plan. I admit it is near the end of kale season (technically I think it is a winter vegetable) but I didn't want to let the opportunity pass to tell you about it. If you can find kale at your market or store, buy some! Try to get fresh looking, perky greens. I think the smaller leaves are more tender. If your greens taste bitter, don't give up kale altogether... sometimes if the leaves are old, they seem bitter. But most of the time I have gotten very tasty results.

Here is a pot of my curly kale, washed and torn into pieces, ready to boil:

(Steaming kale doesn't give very good results, because it concentrates the bitter compounds into the leaves. Boiling in a cup or two of water is a better option, and you can drink the water or use it in soups to get all the water-soluble vitamins into your system). I just boil it, covered, until tender... maybe 20 or 30 minutes depending on your tastes. Sometimes I add some chopped onion to the pot, or even a slice of pre-cooked bacon for a bit more flavor. Yummy!

Here in the front is the Russian red kale. It is thinner and more tender than other types so it takes less cooking time. It isn't actually red; it's green but the veins are red. It is really yummy! In the back is the darker, heartier dinosaur kale. That kale is a lot thicker and holds up well for things like soups or kale chips.

types kinds of kale
One of my favorite ways to cook kale is to make chips out of them. When I am craving potato chips or something salty and munchy, I make these. I think curly kale gives great results and so does dinosaur kale.

Kale Chips
Wash kale thoroughly, trim off stems, and dry the leaves. Spread them on a cookie sheet. Spritz them with olive oil (you can use a sprayer, turning each leaf over to get both sides, or you could toss the leaves with a bit of oil although I think you'd be using more oil that way). Salt lightly. Place in a 350 oven for about 7 minutes. Then use tongs (or fingers) and turn the leaves over. Put them back in for another 5-10 minutes. You know they are done when you can break a piece off and it just cracks off... no tearing required. They get quite brittle. They melt in your mouth. Yummy. (I have made many batches of these and once in awhile I get a very bitter batch but that has been with old greens. Try again with fresh young ones, it's very good. And don't burn them!)

Another recipe I like is:

Winter Vegetable Hash
I won't type out the whole recipe here, but I will say I followed the recipe in the link with the following adaptations:
I used a nonstick pan, and I only used about a teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of olive oil to cook the vegetables.
I did not add a bell pepper.
I added the chopped dinosaur kale at the beginning. I don't think 5 minutes is long enough to get the kale tender.
It was very good. Here it is:

kale recipe
Maybe you can try it next winter!

Now go eat your kale :)


Big Girl said...

I just found your blog and read through a part of it and love it. Looking forward to reading more.

Honi said...


laine said...

I love kale!

And I must own one of these shirts:

Katschi said...

My dad made me eat CANNED kale as a kid and it was sooo bad. This I might be able to try...maybe.

new*me said...

looks delicious.........will have to try......we love most leafy greens! Thanks for sharing :)

Twix said...

blushes...oh my gosh

I had no clue that's what I had been eating, lol. I have been buying this premixed green salad bag. Just had no clue what was in it. Now I know what one of the ingredients is, red russian. Thanks! I agree this stuff is yummy!! And I didn't know you could cook it either. I have been eating it raw with spinach. Mmmm! Ok you've inspired me! Now I have to wave my magic wand and get self to Farmers Market!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I now have a kale craving! hah.

I'm gonna order some from my organic service next week. It's been ages since I had it, and I've been meaning to try the oven baked kale (the recipe is on my organic delivery company's site, too).

The Princess

R. Shack said...

mmm kale!

I'm not a huge kale chip fan... but some orzo, veggie stock, lightly simmered tomatoes and wilted kale makes a great fresh soup :)

shakenbsis said...

LOVE Kale!
Never tried chips, but will do this weekend... ;) mmm...

Sea said...

Yeah I'm late to the party. I just found you and I've been muddling through the archives. I'm a huge fan.

I'm also a fan of kale. I steam it because I like flavor and eat it with a little bit of vinegar, red wine for the purists, rice wine for those of the tender pallette. Great stuff in my megamart now.

Anonymous said...

my kale chips were so bitter I threw them out

Lyn said...


that can happen with older or larger kale sometimes. If you try again, use smaller, younger leaves that tend to have a sweeter taste. Different varieties of kale taste different as well.