November 22, 2017
Bunch of kale over a wooden background

Fresh, Nutritious Kale

by Berkeley Wellness  |  

Kale originated in the eastern Mediterranean and is one of the oldest descendants of the wild cabbage, in the same species as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

Kale was one of the most common greens eaten in Europe until the end of the Middle Ages, and has been traditionally used in southern cooking in the United States. Its popularity has soared in recent years. Today kale is used in salads, as a cooking green, and baked as crispy kale chips.

Kale is easy to grow, is quite tolerant of cold temperatures, and is especially sweet following a light frost. This makes it an ideal fall vegetable. Kale is primarily grown in California, Georgia, New Jersey, and Texas.

Types of Kale

 Kale resembles collards, except that its leaves are curly at the edges. In addition, it has a stronger flavor and a coarser texture. When cooked, kale doesn’t shrink as much as other greens. The most common variety is deep green, but other kales are yellow-green, white, red, or purple, with either

Kale: Nutrition

Like all members the cabbage family, kale is a cruciferous vegetable and has a rich supply of nutrients. Kale supplies fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K, and the carotenoids beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Kale also has some calcium—about 94 milligrams in 1 cup of cooked kale. Although this is only 8 percent of the RDA, if you eat 2 cups of kale you double the calcium and still consume only 72 calories. Like nearly all calcium-containing greens, kale contains compounds called oxalates that decrease calcium absorption. But kale has significantly lower amounts of oxalates than most greens, making its calcium more available.

For a full listing of nutrients, see Kale in the National Nutrient Database.

How to Choose the Best Kale

Choose smaller-leaved kale for tenderness and mild flavor, especially if you plan to eat the greens raw. Coarse, oversized leaves are tough. Look for moist, crisp, unwilted kale, unblemished by tiny holes, which indicate insect damage. The leaves should not be yellowed or brown. Kale stems are edible, so check to

How to use kale

Kale that you buy at the supermarket is usually sturdy, and the stems may be too tough to eat. Young kale, sometimes sold as “baby kale” is increasingly sold fresh in packages in stores, and also at farmers’ markets. Young kale is even tender enough to use raw in a salad.

Be sure to wash kale before using it; the leaves and stems likely have sand or dirt clinging to them. Separate the leaves and swish them around in a large basin of cool water; do not soak. Lift out the leaves, letting the sand and grit settle. Repeat if necessary.

If the stems are thin and tender, you can just trim them and cook along with the leaves. If they’re somewhat thicker, but still tender, cut them off, chop them, and cook them along with the leaves, but add the chopped stems to the pot a little earlier to give them a head start. If the stems are really tough, remove them and discard them. You can easily stem kale by folding each leaf in half, vein-side out, and trimming the stem off with a paring knife.

To use frozen kale, you can either add directly to soups and stews, or thaw it first to use as a side dish or in omelets or quiches.

12 Ways to Serve Kale

 Kale makes a nutritious addition to soups, omelets, and other dishes. But it’s also delicious on its own. Here are 12 serving suggestions for kale. 1. Add shredded fresh kale or thawed frozen kale to minestrone, potato chowder, or vegetable soup. 2. Make your own fresh soup with sliced kale, white beans, onion,

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