Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hail to the Kale

Since this is such a fantastic time of year for getting into the kitchen and cooking up some lovely dishes, let's introduce ourselves to some more tasty and fantastically healthy seasonal foods. This entry is all about the leafy green super-food KALE. Now, this is one that some people have never even tried before. It is quite tough, as it has to be in order to grow in cold temperatures. The leaves are gorgeous and perfect for all sorts of dishes, but before we get to that, let's take a closer look at all the great nutrients that are bursting from this vegetable.

Like all dark leafy greens, kale is absolutely full of loads of vitamins and minerals. These include Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, several B vitamins, manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, calcium, folate, along with lots of fiber and even Omega-3 essential fatty acids. There's more too, but we'll keep this short and sweet. Just remember that kale is a powerhouse full of high amounts of nutrients. This is one vegetable that can actually withstand quite a bit of cooking and still retain good amounts of nutrients because it has such a huge amount to begin with.

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that aids detoxification by the liver. It contains carotenoids that support healthy eyes. It's a great source of antioxidants that protect all our cells. As a dark leafy green rich in calcium, it's perfect for supporting bone health. It's also great for mental health (especially since it contains Vitamin E). Cruciferous vegetables have also been shown to be very heart-healthy as well. This is another paragraph that could go on and on :)

Please don't try to eat raw kale. We are only human and our digestive tracts need some help. My favourite way to have kale is in (pureed) soup. That way you don't have to chew much, and you consume ALL the vitamins in your veggies, including the water soluble ones that escape into the soup water. If you don't fancy the idea of green soup (but it's beautiful!), try sauteing kale with garlic. You can pour on a bit of lemon juice and some kind of healthy fat (ex. good olive oil...or even cook it with butter!). Some people chop up kale into small pieces and bake it in the oven topped with some olive oil and spices to make 'kale chips'. Others use it as a pizza topping. I've also had delicious warm kale salad in the past. Really, the possibilities are endless!

If you can find just one way to enjoy kale, doing so on a regular basis will ensure great boosts of nutrient intake. Kale is a super-food that yearns to be enjoyed! And you can experiment with all sorts of flavours to go with your kale. I'll be enjoying plenty of kale soup this winter season :)

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