I know the kale craze has come and gone, but people still ask me about it all the time. Questions like, what do I do with it? Is it really good for me? Do I need to be eating it? Is it better raw or cooked? Well, hopefully I can answer some of these questions here and share a few recipes along the way.
Honestly, my favorite way to enjoy kale is to wash it and chop it up in little ribbon like pieces then saute it for a few minutes in just the water that comes off the leaves. Then I drizzle it with a little olive oil or avocado oil and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. I love it with a few poached eggs. It's one of my go-to weekend breakfast/brunch dishes.
I understand that for most people kale is a stretch. They think of kale as more of a garnish than something to actually eat. Yet kale is probably one of the healthiest foods we can eat. Remember the recommendation of eating dark, green, leafy vegetables? It doesn't get much darker or leafier than kale. Dinosaur (aka Tuscan or Lacinto) kale has been showing up in abundance in our CSA box as of late. We have been using it up in stir-fries as quickly as it comes in. Green kale is a bit more commonly found in grocery stores and we love to eat it raw in salads or stir-fried in a bit of olive oil.
Kale is a member of the cabbage (Brassica) family. Like other cabbages, kale is a rich source of flavonoids and antioxidants, and indoles, which have been shown to help prevent certain cancers. Kale is rich in calcium and carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. One serving of kale provides approximately 20% of the recommended daily calcium requirement for adults. Kale is a rich source of selenium and magnesium. Kale also contains vitamin E and vitamin C in significant amounts. And kale contains vitamin K, which we need for bone health and cancer prevention. Kale is also an excellent source of fiber.
Kale ranks at the top of the list for antioxidant-containing foods. Eating kale may help prevent cognitive decline. In one study of aging women, research showed that women who consumed the most green leafy vegetables experienced slower cognitive decline than women consuming the least amount.
Choose kale with bright, crisp, green (or purple) leaves and make sure to wash it well – occasionally there can be sand or soil (or critters) hidden in those tight curly leaves. Since kale cooks down quite a bit like spinach, be sure to cook a lot of it. There is nothing wrong with having leftovers as kale is a great addition to omelets or hash browns in the morning.
Kale Recipes (listed alphabetically)
Farmer’s Market Frittata
Ginger Chicken Soup
Super Green Smoothie
Farmer’s Market Frittata
A frittata is simply a term used to describe cooking eggs in the skillet – usually enriched with vegetables, herbs, and in some cases, meat. The frittata originated in Italy and makes a great meal any time of day.
For my Farmer’s Market Frittata, I stir-fried a bunch of vegetables I found at the Farmer’s Market, enhanced their flavor with a little olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper and then just added a few scrambled eggs and allowed it to cook on the stovetop. I serve the frittata alongside a small kale salad with a dollop of fresh chevre and avocado. Feel free to experiment with your favorite vegetables.
¼ cup chopped onion
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 cup broccoli florets, diced
1-2 cups kale, stem removed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Optional: ½ cup organic milk, 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan
1/8 teaspoon each: thyme, salt, and pepper
Stir fry the onion, bell pepper, broccoli and kale in olive oil until vegetables are cooked al dente.
While vegetables are cooking, crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk until combined. Add milk and Parmesan if desired. Whisk in spices.
Heat a small skillet over medium heat and coat with olive oil spray. Add half of the cooked vegetables to the bottom along with half of the egg mixture. Allow the eggs to set (about 4 to 5 minutes) and when just about set, flip over so the bottom half finishes cooking. The bottom half only needs about a minute to cook and then the frittata is ready to enjoy.
Repeat using the remainder of the vegetables and eggs.
An alternative way of making this is to combine everything in a pie dish coated with cooking oil spray. Bake at 350° F for about 25 minutes or until eggs have set.
Ginger Chicken Soup
2 chicken breasts (bone-in)
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
4 ounces fresh ginger root, sliced ¼-inch thick
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1½ cups shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
1 cup packed chopped kale leaves (about ½ small bunch)
3 garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Place chicken in a large stockpot and add carrots, celery, onion, ginger, salt, pepper and 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, until chicken is cooked and veggies are tender.
Transfer chicken breasts to a large dish. Strain (and save) broth and discard solids. Return broth to the pot and add mushrooms, kale, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
While vegetables are cooking, remove skin from chicken meat from bones and cut into cubes. Add meat to soup and heat for 1 minute. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and serve hot.
Kale Chips are one of the easiest and most versatile, fun snacks that you can make. They are always a hit at pot lucks and even kids enjoy kale chips as an after-school snack. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started. Then have fun tossing kale in your favorite spices and experimenting with your own version.
Makes about 5 servings (We don’t really worry about serving size when it comes to kale chips. James has been known to nearly eat an entire bunch of kale). These work really well in a food dehydrator, but no worries if you don’t have one – an oven will work just fine (and you’ll shave hours off from the time it takes to dehydrate a bunch of kale).
Preparation and ingredients:
1 bunch of kale (we like to use Curly green leaf or Lacinto (Dinosaur) kale. The key is to start with very dry kale. After you wash it, really pat it dry or allow it to air dry for an hour or so. Tear the leaves from the stem into bite-sized pieces into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil (or coconut oil), sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and toss well with your hands to distribute to oil. Toss the kale on the tray with your hands to distribute the oil, and bake at 350 degrees for 12-17 minutes.
You can use your favorite prepared crust (we like some of the gluten-free frozen crusts) or you can make your own:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ to ¾ cup warm water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (or almond flour or organic all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 ½ cups chopped or shredded kale
¼ cup marinara sauce
½ cup shredded Manchego cheese
½ cup shallots, diced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
Pinch of sea salt
For crust: Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup warm water. Add to food processor (or stand up mixer) and combine remaining ingredients. Pulse until a ball starts to form. Add additional water if dough is too dry.
Remove dough from the processor and dust lightly with flour. Place in a lightly floured bowl and cover with a damp cloth.
Let rise until double in size, about 45 minutes. Gluten-free crust may not actually double, but it will certainly grow.
Meanwhile, prepare kale and other ingredients. Combine olive oil and kale in a medium-size bowl. Massage olive oil into kale until it is well coated and begins to wilt. Set aside for pizza.
After dough has risen, punch it down. Divide it into 2 separate balls.
Preheat to 475° F.
Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out each ball of dough on a separate sheet of parchment paper until it is about 10” in diameter. Roll out the second ball or wrap in plastic and place in freezer bag until ready to use.
Using a flat tray or cookie sheet without edges, transfer the crust(s) with parchment directly onto the upper-middle rack of the oven. Bake for about 5 minutes. Carefully remove the crust from the oven using the tray.
Spread marinara over the top of the crust, then add shredded cheese and top with prepared kale, shallots, and mushrooms. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top. Return pizza to the oven and bake for another 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Serves 4 to 6
1 bunch kale
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
sea salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 medium avocado
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red bell pepper
1 medium carrot, shredded or thinly sliced
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh mint
Wash and dry kale and remove leaves from thick stem. Chop into thin strips and place in a large bowl. Add olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and massage into the kale so that it is well coated. Add lemon juice and continue to massage into the greens for about one minute.
Add the avocado through fresh mint and toss until all of the ingredients are well distributed throughout the salad.
Super Berry Green Smoothie
6 ounces milk of choice (organic cow’s, almond, soy, rice, oat)
½ cup frozen organic strawberries
½ cup frozen blueberries
½ frozen banana
¼ avocado - sliced
½ to 1 cup kale, well rinsed and removed from stem
1 scoop organic protein powder
Add all of the ingredients to a blender fitted tightly with lid. Blend until desired creamy consistency is achieved. Smoothie will be a lovely green color!
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