Kale is like Sandy Frink. You know – the nerdy guy in Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion who was ignored as a kid, but came back to the reunion as this successful, mysterious superstar?
This dark leafy green used to be known as the buttery side dish to fried chicken in soul food meals. Now it’s the mega superfood – everybody wants a piece of it. It’s in soups, salads, chips, even music videos (twerking + kale = hilarious). When I asked my friends and readers which health food they would like to know more about, three people said kale.
I am not afraid to admit that I was one of the first ones to hop right on that bandwagon so I’ve gotten to know Kale pretty well throughout the last few years.
So let’s talk KALE. What it is, what it does, and how you use it…
Kale Nutrition Label (serving size 1 cup)
- 33 calories
- 0 grams of fat
- 5 grams of fiber
- 5% of iron (more than beef per calorie!)
- 9% of daily value of calcium (more than milk per calorie)
- 206% of vitamin A
- 134% vitamin C
- 684% vitamin K
- Rich in lutein and zeaxanthin compounds
Kale Benefits (i.e. what does the above actually do for me?)
- It’s high fiber helps your digestion
- It’s high iron assists in the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more
- It’s high vitamin K can a) reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer and b) helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease (especially when it is cooked)
- High vitamin C means great for your immune system, metabolism and hydration (awesome!)
- Vitamin A means take down that prescription; it’s good for your vision!
- High in calcium aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
- Overall, it assists with a wide variety of bodily functions – normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity and bone health
- Small Warning: Kale can interfere with the absorption of calcium so avoid eating dairy at the same time as kale
- It tastes Oh So Good in a million different forms. Which leads me to…
10 Kale Uses
- Kale in your omelets: Props to Katie for this suggestion – I suggest sauteing it first, then adding it to the omelet when you’re adding all your other veggies.
- Kale as a chip: there are a ton of packaged options for this right now, but the least expensive (and most sodium-controlled) option, is making it yourself. Try this recipe.
- Kale as a side: Bobby Flay never lets me down with his solid, tried-and-true recipes.
- Kale in your juice: My best friend loves to make the most amazing, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink juice smoothies, so it’s no surprise that she threw kale into the mix. I loved that she lives by the philosophy of just throw in what tastes good, but if you must follow a recipe, this Blended Recipes site is all about juicing and its health benefits.
- Kale in your pasta: A great way to add a lot more veggies to your pasta dishes Try this Pasta with Corn and Kale Recipe.
- Kale in your salad – The more you can eat your vegetables raw, the better. But I understand that kale is a little bit chewy and hard to swallow completely dry. Which is why, when I put it in my salad that I let it marinate for a few hours (or overnight) in a mixture of lemon, garlic and a touch of olive oil.
- Kale as a spread (this one will make you say “Genius!”): I wish I thought of this one on my own, because I am always looking for healthier spreads to put on veggies or sandwiches besides the usual hummus. Introducing kale-onaise!
- Use Kale as your tortilla: This is a superfood, low carb, gluten-free way to eat a wrap or a taco. It’s so hearty that two big bibs of Lacinato Kale (bigger and flatter) will be stable enough to hold the rice/quinoa/bulgar/meaty/saucy insides.
- Kale burgers: I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I am DYING to. It looks so ridiculously good and so ridiculously healthy.
- Kale with hummus: When I’m starving and I walk in the door, I try my hardest not to get into any kind of chip (even if it is a quinoa chip). Instead, I always start with a raw veggie and dip it in hummus. And yes, that includes taking strips of kale, spreading on a chunk of hummus, wrapping it up, and eating it. Delicous!
So my healthy, kale-loving friends, now that I’ve share my ways with my nutrient packed cool kid on the block, I must ask, how do you do kale??