Today, thought we would mix this up a bit and talk about nutrition: mainly a new Fall/Winter veggie friend: KALE!
Whole Foods has an excellent overview of Kale, all the nutrition, and details you could every want. I will “boil” it down for you, include an easy recipe and, of course, today’s tip.
Here is the link for the entire article: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?dbid=38&tname=foodspice
What’s New and Beneficial About Kale – lowers cholesterol, detoxes your body, helps prevent many types of cancer:
- Cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in kale do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw kale still has cholesterol-lowering ability–just not as much.
- Kale’s risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates in kale play a primary role in achieving these risk-lowering benefits.
- Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body’s detoxification system. New research has shown that the ITCs made from kale’s glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level.
- Cardiovascular Support
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties
The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around. Although it can be found in markets throughout the year, it is in season from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring when it has a sweeter taste and is more widely available.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts that have gained recent widespread attention due to their health-promoting, sulfur-containing phytonutrients. It is easy to grow and can grow in colder temperatures where a light frost will produce especially sweet kale leaves. There are several varieties of kale; these include curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (or Lacinato or Tuscan) kale, all of which differ in taste, texture, and appearance.
Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and is usually deep green in color. It has a lively pungent flavor with delicious bitter peppery
qualities. Ornamental kale is a more recently cultivated species that is oftentimes referred to as salad savoy. Its leaves may either be green, white, or purple and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head. Ornamental kale has a more mellow flavor and tender texture.
Dinosaur kale is the common name for the kale variety known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale. It features dark blue-green leaves that have an embossed texture. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate taste than curly kale.
How to Select and Store:
Look for kale with firm, deeply colored leaves and moist, hardy stems. Kale should be displayed in a cool environment since warm temperatures will cause it to wilt and will negatively affect its flavor. The leaves should look fresh, be unwilted, and be free from signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes. Choose kale with smaller-sized leaves since these will be more tender and have a more mild flavor than those with larger leaves. Kale is available throughout the year, although it is more widely available, and at its peak, from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring. Tip: the whole kale bunch is easier to work with than the bagged variety.
To store, place kale in a plastic storage bag removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in the refrigerator where it will keep for 5
days. The longer it is stored, the more bitter its flavor becomes. Do not wash kale before storing because exposure to water encourages spoilage.
How to Prepare It:
Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around and one way to be sure to enjoy the maximum nutrition and flavor from kale is to cook it properly. We recommend Healthy Steaming kale for 5 minutes. Rinse kale leaves under cold running water. Chop leaf portion into 1/2″ slices and the stems into 1/4 ” lengths for quick and even cooking. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to enhance their health-promoting qualities before steaming. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration. Fill the bottom of a steamer pot with 2 inches of water. While waiting for the water to come to a rapid boil chop greens. Steam for 5 minutes. Ideas for tasty serving are below.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
- Braise chopped kale and apples. Before serving, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and chopped walnuts.
- Combine chopped kale, pine nuts, and feta cheese with whole grain pasta drizzled with olive oil.
- Sautee in large pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, and raw garlic until kale becomes bright green and cooks down. Delicious!
Please read – A Few Health Concerns / FYI’s:
Kale and Oxalates – if you have existing/untreated kidney or gallbladder problems, may want to avoid kale – look below –
Kale is among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating kale. Laboratory studies have shown that oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, in every peer-reviewed research study we’ve seen, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and definitely does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute calcium to the meal plan.
Kale and Pesticide Residues – If concerned, go Organic –
Virtually all municipal drinking water in the United States contains pesticide residues, and with the exception of organic foods, so do the majority
of foods in the U.S. food supply. Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver’s ability to process other toxins, the cells’ ability to produce energy, and the nerves’ ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2011 report “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” kale is among the 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of kale unless it is grown organically.
Kale as a “Goitrogenic” Food – interfering with thyroid function? Maybe, maybe not –
Kale is sometimes referred to as a “goitrogenic” food. Yet, contrary to popular belief, according to the latest studies, foods themselves–kale
included–are not “goitrogenic” in the sense of causing goiter whenever they are consumed, or even when they are consumed in excess. In fact, most foods that are commonly called “goitrogenic”–such as the cruciferous vegetables (including kale, broccoli, and cauliflower) and soyfoods–do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy persons even when they are consumed on a daily basis. Nor is it scientifically correct to say that foods “contain goitrogens,” at least not if you are thinking about goitrogens as a category of substances like proteins, carbohydrates, or vitamins. With respect to the health of our thyroid gland, all that can be contained in a food are nutrients that provide us with a variety of health benefits but which, under certain circumstances, can also interfere with thyroid function. The term “goitrogenic food” makes it sound as if something is
wrong with the food, but that is simply not the case. What causes problems for certain individuals is not the food itself but the mismatched nature of certain substances within the food to their unique health circumstances.
So now you know more about kale than you ever wanted to! The bottom line is: this is a VERY inexpensive vegetable that is incredibly healthy and delicious. It’s most readily available RIGHT NOW and through the rest of the year. And depending on how you prepare it: it can be as low as 58 calories a decent sized serving!! It’s perfect with a moderate serving of protein, small portion of carb, and then fill your plate with low cal, healthy kale. There are tons of recipes out there to use it in casseroles and other versions, so if what we’ve mentioned here doesn’t sound tasty, try something else. But give kale a chance. It’s a sweeter version of spinach and so many ways to prepare.
Today’s Tip: Autumn is the perfect time for healthy, low cal veggies and fruits to round out and add variety to your meal planning. Apples, pumpkin, butternut squash, kale – all of these help you “mix it up” and are so good for you too. They also support your diet efforts with a great dose of fiber per serving. Stir a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin into your oatmeal with a shake of pumpkin pie spice for a very tasty breakfast. Enjoy pork loin with applesauce/apples or throw some cubed butternut squash into a hearty chicken stew. The ideas are endless – enjoy the cooler weather and all it’s healthy produce!