I wanted to discuss kale and it’s benefits because I don’t know about you guys, but as soon as my kids go back to school, the throats start hurting, the noses get stuffy and I’m running around like a nut sprinkling Vitamin D on everyone’s tongues. Having said that, I am a hugh believer in that famous quote by Hippocrates…”Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” So although I may bolster the ‘ole immune system with some vitamins during cold and flu season, I generally think you are better off getting all the nutrients you need from food. And as far as nutrients go, kale is a tough act to follow.
Kale is a member of the crucifer family. It is a descendent of the wild cabbage, along with it’s cohorts: broccoli, arugula, cauliflower, brussels sprouts…just to name a few. In general, cruciferous vegetables offer more health benefits than most fruits and vegetables. But kale may deserve “top dog” status.
There are several varieties of kale, (or Brassica oleracea if we are being official). These varieties include curly, ornamental, and dinosaur. Each has a slightly different texture and taste, but all pack a punch. Kale is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C (more than any other leafy green), fiber, calcium and folic acid. It’s high vitamin K content really sets it apart from the other crucifers. Vitamin K is essential for strong bones, heart health, and cancer prevention. Besides being rich in vitamins, kale also contains stellar amounts of minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients (remember those?). Bottom line…this baby should find its way onto our plates as often as possible.
So today I was in the mood for something warm for lunch. I had one hungry daughter home sick and another one on her way over to the house to eat. I had a few bunches of kale in the fridge and it triggered the thought of a warm kale salad with coconut curry dressing that I’d eaten at one of my favorite restaurants in Huntingdon Valley. They serve it with chick peas and avocado. Since I had neither of those on hand, I improvised. I found this recipe and tweaked it with some of my own ingredients. It turned out yummy…both girls loved it. I added cooked shrimp to this dish, but you could add whatever protein you like or serve as a side dish on its own!
Warm Coconut Curry Kale Salad
I bunch of Kale, center ribs removed, and torn
1-2 tsp. coconut oil
1/3 c. onion
2 garlic cloves grated
2 tsp curry powder (I think I used a bit more)
1 tsp. dried ginger ( I would have used fresh, but was out)
1/4 c. water
1 c. coconut milk
1/2 c. raisins
toasted pecans (first batch burned!)
salt and pepper
Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and grate in garlic. Add ginger and curry, stir and cook for a minute or two. Add chopped kale and water to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover kale and let cook down a bit, stirring occasionally. Once kale has wilted, add coconut milk and let it reduce to thicken. Taste for seasoning. (I added a little more curry powder, salt and pepper at this point). Stir in raisins and pecans. Serve immediately.
Here are a few more tips for incorporating kale into our diet:
Chop raw kale and add it to salads, soups, stews, quiches, etc. TIP: after you chop or tear kale leaves, let them sit for 5 minutes before preparing/eating them to get the most health benefits! Who knew?
Steam kale lightly with some olive oil, salt and pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar. This cooking method is actually the best way to retain all of the nutrients.
Make chips! Wash, dry and chop leaves and spread out on baking sheet. (Discard or compost center rib) Wait 5 minutes:) Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper or any of your favorite seasonings…maybe a little cumin and cayenne? Bake at 350 degrees until crispy. Avoid overcooking or burning…you will lose some of those precious nutrients!
Run a handful of kale through the juicer with a cucumber, some celery and a green apple. Liquid gold.
Make a smoothie in your blender with a cup of chopped kale, a cup of blueberries, a banana, a cup of coconut milk and some ice!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: “We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.” Adelle Davis
Pick something new and healthy to try this week! Your body will thank you:)