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Kale: Trendy superfood in season
Even the most ardent supporters of kale have to concede that not everyone loves this hardy vegetable, and kids may be a hard sell.
[Recipe for pickled kale salad and kale chips below.]
So it was great to see at Abundant Acres in Greendale as nine-year-old Sarah Abrahams and even four-year-old Jacob popped fresh kale leaves into their mouths as a tasty snack.
Like parsley before it, kale has gone in recent years from its undervalued status as mere garnish to centre stage in foodie culture for its extreme health benefits.
“Kale is a member of the cabbage family and is packed with bioflavonoids and carotenoids, which are specific antioxidants associated with anti-cancer health benefits,” says Dr. Joanne Menard, a Chilliwack naturopathic physician.
“It’s an especially wonderful food for women as it contains indol-3-carbinol, a compound that fights estrogen-dependent conditions such as breast cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids and fibrocystic breast disease. It’s also very rich in vitamin C, beta carotene, and vitamin K and contains more iron and calcium than almost any other vegetable.”
Kale’s high vitamin C also helps the body absorb its iron, making it a good food for vegetarians.
Menard says kale is also a good source of magnesium, potassium, folic acid, and is rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
“One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and nine per cent of the daily value of calcium, 206 per cent of vitamin A, 134 per cent of vitamin C, and a whopping 684 per cent of vitamin K. And despite being low in calories, it is very filling making it a great weight-loss food.”
Kale is a superfood to be sure and, like all vegetables, it’s best as fresh as possible. But how to eat it? There are so many great ways.
Fresh in a salad is good, but if you find it too powerful or bitter, mix it in with other greens, or try a pickled kale salad.
Kale chips are also popular and simple, but are easy to screw up so watch closely.
Then there’s pesto, that familiar and simple treat that’s easy to make at home. Many foodies will remember when they first realized this utterly delicious mixture, most often used as a pasta sauce, can be put together in the simplest of food processors. Pine nuts plus basil plus garlic plus parmesan plus olive oil. Boom. Impress your friends. But what many realized only later is that the pinenut/basil/parmesan combination as a base for pesto should really be thought of as a nut/green/cheese combo.
Pine nuts? Sure, but try walnuts, pistachios or almonds. Basil? When it’s fresh, few things are better, but try arugula, spinach or, yes, kale. And fresh parmesan is unmistakable, but try pecorino or gouda or even extra old cheddar.
Pickled Kale Salad
(Adapted from a recipe by Chilliwack resident Jen Sibley)
one bunch kale
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
chopped red onions
chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil
fresh ground pepper
1. Wash kale and chop or break into bite-sized pieces. Put into large bowl and add olive oil and sea salt. Toss thoroughly so that greens are evenly coated.
2. Mix/whisk together vinegar, pepper, garlic, onions and sun-dried tomatoes in small bowl. Dump into kale bowl and toss thoroughly, again ensuring kale is coated evenly.
3. Eat right away or can be left to marinate for a number of hours for a more powerful salad.
(Recipe from www.kinsfarmmarket.com)
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt (or seasoning of your choice)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove the leaves from the stems with a knife, then tear into small pieces. Wash the leaves and dry thoroughly with a salad spinner.
3. Drizzle with the olive oil, mix until leaves are coated, then sprinkle seasoning on top.
4. Arrange the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet, then bake for 8-10 minutes (careful not to burn them!)