by Elizabeth Patton MS, RD, LD, CDE
Kale has been named one of the trendiest vegetables of 2012, but I fell in love with it a few years ago. In fact, if I had to name a favorite non-starchy vegetable, kale would be at the top of the list! It’s unique in taste and texture, beautiful on your plate and a nutrition powerhouse. But many people tell me they don’t know what to do with it. Question no more! I’ll tell you why it’s famed as one of the healthiest veggies in the world and how to easily add it to your repertoire.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, in the same family as cabbage and Brussels sprouts, but it definitely holds its own unique place. One cup of kale contains only 36 calories and a whopping 5 grams of fiber. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense veggies around containing 15% of the daily requirement for calcium (rare for a vegetable) and vitamin B6, 40% for magnesium, 180% for vitamin A, 200% for vitamin C, and 1,020% for vitamin K. It’s also a good source of copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale is rich in carotenoids, flavonoids, lutein and zeaxanthin – antioxidants with health-promoting, anti-cancer benefits.
During the cold winter months when most vegetables are out of season, kale is thriving at its best! That means it’s at its peak in taste and freshness, but also on of the cheapest vegetables to buy at the supermarket. And who doesn’t love saving a bit of money?
I often eat kale sauteed as a side dish, but it also adds color and flavor mixed in with smashed potatoes, pasta and rice. Its als0 great in soup. And the quicker the cooking method, the greater nutrient retention your kale has.
Here’s my favorite way to prepare kale:
- Rinse one bunch of kale leaves and cut (or rip) the tough “vein” out of the middle. Cut the kale into pieces, approximately 2 inches long. Chop up some fresh garlic (or you may use garlic powder if you prefer.)
- Pour 1/2 cup water in the bottom of a high-sided skillet, add the kale, and put the lid on and steam on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Turn every so often so the leaves begin to soften and don’t burn. The water should begin to evaporate.
- Just when the water is almost gone, remove the lid and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Using tongs, toss leaves in oil so they are coated.
- Add garlic, crushed red pepper and a dash of Kosher salt. Continue to saute.
- The veggies are done when some portions begin to brown and have reached desired tenderness.
Elizabeth Patton MS, RD, LD, CDE is the chief blogger behind Good Food Tastes Good, a blog where Liz shares her passion for healthy eating and expertise on the matter regularly. Follow Good Food Tastes Good on Facebook.