Kale — the “Queen of the Greens”

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013 in Just. Eat. Real. Food., Recipes, Salads, Vegetables & Sides

Kale — the “Queen of the Greens”

Growing up, I was always proud of myself for being like Popeye enjoying eating my spinach . . . though not out of a can! We cooked spinach out of the frozen Birdseye box, boiling it with butter and salt. I think that my love of spinach gave me a love of greens in general.

And then I was introduced to kale – THE “QUEEN OF THE GREENS”!

Kale is being touted as “the new beef”. It’s a nutritional powerhouse that should be added to your diet because . . .

  • Kale is an anti-inflammatory food which helps fight against arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune conditions. As a plant-based source of Omega-3 fatty acids, one cup of kale is 10% of the RDA of Omega-3s.
  • Kale has more iron per calorie than beef. Iron helps form hemoglobin and enzymes, transports oxygen throughout the body, and assists with proper liver function.
  • Kale is high in Vitamin K which is necessary for normal bone health and preventing blood clotting. Vitamin K can also help protect us from various cancers and helps those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. (1 cup = 1000% RDA!)
  • Kale, high in fiber, assists in digestion and elimination, and can help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Kale is filled with vitamins and minerals especially folate and magnesium (1 cup = 40%RDA).
  • Kale is high in Vitamin C, assisting with metabolism, the immune system and hydration.   (1 cup = 200% RDA)
  • Kale is filled with antioxidants such as carotenoids and 45 different flavonoids which fight against free radicals and help protect against cancers.
  • Kale is high in Vitamin A which benefits your vision and your skin. (1 cup = 180% RDA) It’s also full of eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
  • Kale, with more calcium than whole milk, helps maintain a healthy metabolism, supports bone health, and helps to prevent bone loss. (1 cup = 15% RDA of calcium)

As much kale as I eat now, I cannot believe that the first time I ate kale was during my Nutritional Therapy Program three years ago. Chef Heidi taught us how to massage a kale salad and I was hooked! This salad is so versatile that I have to share it with you!

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Recipe: Simple Kale Salad

Summary: This is the basic salad. Use whichever kind of kale you’d like – Lacinato, also known as black or Dinosaur kale, Curly, and Red Russian are familiar kinds you’ll find in the markets. You can mix varieties as well. This makes a generous side salad for 2 people. Add more kale and/or Romaine lettuce to make it go further. See below for suggestions of what to add for variety.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of organic kale
  • juice of half a lemon
  • sea salt
  • organic olive (optional)
  • Romaine lettuce (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry the kale if necessary.
  2. Cut the stems out of each leaf by running a knife along each side of the stem from top to bottom. Discard stems or save them in the freezer to add to broth/soups later.
  3. Lay the leaves flat on top of one another on a cutting board. Roll the leaves from bottom to top like you’d roll a cigar. If using curly kale, just add the little bits of leave into your roll before cutting or, if small enough, just place in bowl.
  4. Holding the kale cigar firmly (with the seam side down), cut 1/4 inch rounds. Coarsely chop the rings of cut kale and put in a large salad or mixing bowl.
  5. Add a big pinch of sea salt and the lemon juice on top of the kale and begin massaging the kale with your hands. The intent is the soften it. It will usually feel wet or get green juice running out of it when it is done.
  6. If this doesn’t look like enough salad for you, add more kale or some Romaine lettuce. This adds color variation and a nice texture. Slice the bottom of the head of Romaine off and cut 1/4 inch rounds like you did with the kale and then coarsely chop. Add to the bowl. Add more lemon if necessary for flavor.
  7. Add a drizzle of olive oil if you’d like.
  8. Toss well. The salad is fine just as it is, but I’ve included other variations below.

Variations on the Simple Kale Salad

Grapefruit and Avocado: Use grapefruit juice instead of lemon. Add sections of fresh grapefruit and chunks of avocado. Optional to add pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.

Cranberries and Toasted Almonds: Use the juice of an orange, olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice. Stir in dried cranberries and toasted almond slivers.

Greek Kale: Toss in 1/2 medium cucumber sliced into rounds then quartered into wedges, a small handful of sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil (dice if needed), and 8-10 kalamata olives. Drizzle on a bit of the sun-dried tomato oil and mix well. Garnish with goat or feta cheese crumbles.

Asian Kale: Massage sesame oil (instead of olive oil), 1/4 avocado, 1 tsp of tamari (to taste), a pinch of dried ginger or some freshly grated ginger into the kale. Toss in 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper and 1/2 sheet of nori crushed and mix well. Top with 1 tsp of sesame seeds or gomasio.

Apple and Toasted Walnut: I like this one without the Romaine. Add apple cider vinegar instead of (or along with) lemon. Grate a cored Granny Smith apple into the basic kale salad. Toss in chopped toasted walnuts. Dried cranberries sprinkled on top would be optional.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 2

Many nights I just make this simple kale salad and top it with chopped leftover meat or smoked salmon and whatever veggies I have on hand. Or I use it as the base for a grass-feb burger bowl with some Caesar dressing, since we eat our burgers NAKED — sans the bun, that is.

And don’t stop with just using kale in salads. Chop some up and throw it in stews and soups. Kale chips are a delicious snack and so easy to make. They usually go directly into my mouth from the oven. Sautéed kale is just as versatile as this simple salad – sauté with onion, garlic, shitake mushrooms, and sausage for a quick dinner. And smoothies are even more nutritious with a few leaves of kale tossed in the blender. The sky’s the limit for this Queen of the Greens!!

What’s your favorite way to eat kale? Share with others in the comments below.