Kale is one of those vegetables people either love it or hate it. The funny thing is kale used to be really cheap and only used to feed animals like pigs and chickens.
However, in the last few years, kale has been deemed a health food. With people adding it into everything from smoothies to salads and soups to curries. It has been found to be rich in vitamins and other vital nutrients that help your skin, heart health inflammation and more.
So what is kale?
Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetables, which is known for cancer-fighting properties. Kale is quickly becoming one of our most popular health foods today. However, the benefits of kale can be traced all the way back to ancient Rome! History can also tell us that it was one of the most popular green leafy vegetables in the middle ages. Then like I said it seemed to become food for animals, but we have once again realised how good kale can be.
Types of kale
There are two main varieties of kale, one that has green leaves and one that has purple. However, within that, they are several types, which differ based on their nice appearance and taste. Some of the most common types of kale include.
Kale Nutritional Facts
Kale is a great source of many important nutrients, including fibre, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C.
100g of raw kale contains the following nutrients.
Calories - 50
Carbohydrates - 10g
Fat - 0.7g
Protein - 3.3g
Fibre - 2g
Omega-3 fatty acids -180mg
Omega-6 fatty acids - 138mg
Vitamin A - 15376 IU
Vitamin C - 120mg
Vitamin K - 817 mcg
Thiamin - 0.1mg
Riboflavin - 0.1mg
Niacin - 1mg
Vitamin B6 - 0.3mg
Folate - 29.0mcg
Calcium - 135mg
Iron - 1.7 mg
Magnesium - 34mg
Phosphorus - 56mg
Potassium - 447mg
Sodium - 43mg
Zinc - 0.4mg
Maganese - 0.8mg
Selenium - 0.9mcg
As you can see it has so many different nutrients in only 100g. Finding ways to add in even a little bit of kale each day will benefit you.
Besides being highly nutritious, kale has also been associated with some other health benefits. So here are some more reasons to consider adding this into your shopping cart.
Rich in antioxidants
Aids in detoxification
Supports heart health
Promotes healthy development
Decreases cancer cell growth
Enhances eye health
How to buy kale
When buying kale you want to pick dark coloured kale free from brown or yellow spots. Kale is in season through the cold autumn and winter months. However, I often see it year-round in many of my local supermarkets.
On the other hand, kale is really easy to grow if you want to add it into your veggie patch as I have.
How to store kale
The key to storing kale and other leafy greens is to keep it away from moisture. Wrap unwashed kale leaves in paper towels and place in a plastic grocery or ziplock bag. Store in your vegetable crisper draw for 5 to 7 days. It is best to only wash the kale right before you intend to use it, as the moisture will cause it to go bad quicker!
To freeze kale (for long term storage), wash and dry kale, then remove thick ribs and chop the leaves. Transfer to an airtight container or bag. You can throw the frozen kale right into smoothies, soups and curries without thawing first.
How to prepare kale
The way you prepare kale will make or break your dish. The first thing you want to do is cut the kale leaves from the thick stem. The stem is bitter a not good seated raw. Some people like it in a soup as it has been softened but I usually just put it in the compost bin.
Next, you want to cut the kale leaves to the desired size. E.g. larger for kale chips, small for kale salads. The final step is washing the kale leaves in a colander drying well.
There is one more step that is optional, which is massaging the kale leaves. This basically just means squeezing and rubbing the kale leaves for a few minutes to break the hard to eat fibres. This makes the kale much easier to chew and digest.
However, I rarely do this, as other than in smoothies I usually eat kale cooked as this is the way I prefer it.
How to cook kale
There are numerous different ways that you can cook and use kale. Here are some of my favourites.
Roasting kale makes crispy chips that disintegrate in your mouth just like an ultra-thin potato chip. To make them more nutritious and yummy you can dress them up with different herbs and spices.
Sauteing kale with garlic and onions, with a dash of broth can be delicious as a side to many meals. Or you can add it to meals like curries and stir-fries, putting it in just before serving and letting it wilt slightly. This is probably the main way I use kale.
Finally, you can slice it thinly to make it into a slaw, add it to salads or even put it in smoothies.
What you should do now
I have been where you are and I have women all over the world (just like you) transition to eating a plant-based diet. If you are looking for a guide to help you find the healthiest way to eat, check out these blog posts it is a great place to start.
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