Between picking kale for myself and for the wonderful Plant-A-Row for Haiti program going on in Boston, I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of time with this great green recently. Turns out, 12 happy kale plants produce a lot of kale. Garden-fresh, it has good flavor, freezes well, stands up to a wide range of cooking methods, and is a serious nutrition powerhouse.
Honestly, while I adore cauliflower, kale wins the nutrition scoring competition every time. Minerals: iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and copper. Vitamins etc: beta-carotene (what your body uses to make vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, lutein, folate, and fiber.
So, if I were an eighteenth century physician, I would say that it would heal your blood, preserve your sight, build healthy bones, support healthy pregnancy, keep your digestion healthy, and build strong muscles. Kale is much more effective at healing your patient than leeches, tonics based on lead or mercury, and purges. And all that for not very many calories (not a selling point in the eighteenth century)!
For the best absorption of iron, make sure you eat it with eggs or meat and don’t take a calcium supplement with that meal. For best absorption of the calcium, take some vitamin D with the meal and avoid iron supplements.
Iffy about your greens? Look for the dinosaur, lacinato or black tuscan varieties. They are dark green, have a textured leaf, and are more tender than common kale varieties. You can also pick up kale from a local market after it has frosted– that makes it sweeter. What to do with it? Saute, cook with eggs, steam, blanche and use in a salad, make soup, bake, or add to pasta. The possibilities are endless. Although, I have NOT added kale to chocolate cupcakes (yet…).
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