Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All Hail the Kale

If I were stranded on a desert island with one choice of nourishment to sustain me, it would be kale. Okay, so it would really be chocolate peanut butter swirl ice cream, but if I were perfect, it would be kale. Why? I'll let the nutrients speak for themselves. Just take a look at the chart. Is there any other food that comes close to being that nutrient-packed?
Chart from the George Mateljan Foundation for The World's Healthiest Foods

These nutritional benefits translate to cancer protection, rheumatoid arthritis protection, cataract protection, cell detoxification, lung health, and vision health among many other perks.

And the good news- contrary to popular belief- is that it's not as revoltingly bitter as you'd think. The trick is to steam it. A weekly salad at our house consists of steamed kale and avocado drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkled with sea salt and a dash of cayenne. It's awesome.

I recently made the kale salad in the picture with red onions (soaked in apple cider vinegar for a less pungent flavor), figs, peaches and oranges. The fruit gives a nice sweet contrast to the kale and onions and a balsamic vinaigrette was just the right dressing to complete it.
Besides using kale in salad, I often jazz up pasta sauce with it, throw it in soups or use it as a lettuce substitute in things like tacos, but perhaps the best way to enjoy it and trick your kids into eating it is by making kale chips.

Kale Chips: Cut kale off stems and chop into bite-size pieces. Baste with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and cayenne if you like a kick. Bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until the edges are brown. You can eat the whole "bag" of these guilt-free. Imagine that!

Next time you're in the produce section at the grocery store, don't be afraid to hail the kale and serve it as lunch.