Kale: The New Superfood

For years, kale didn’t get much respect, but now, it’s being tagged as a
“superfood” thanks to its numerous vitamins and nutrients. And recipes like
kale chips are making it a trendy food, too.

Kristi Spence is a Registered Dietician with the Utah Dairy Council and she
dishes on kale.

Kale – it is a green leafy vegetable and along with broccoli, cauliflower,
collard greens, and Brussels sprouts, a proud member of the cabbage family.
Though it has been cultivated and eaten for centuries, recent years bear
witness to kale’s meteoric rise to the spotlight as a “superfood.” There are
undoubtedly strong links between diet and disease, and kale may have a
positive impact on bone health, heart health, and reducing risk for certain
types of cancers. Concerns over food’s impact on health and disease risk has
left many people clamoring for the best food has to offer, and like many
vegetables, kale is packed with healthful nutrients including vitamins A, C, K,
calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

One of kale’s greatest attributes is that it is versatile. Most varieties have a
mild flavor and can accompany a variety of dishes. In the store you will most
commonly see three types of kale: curly-leafed heads of both red and green
varieties, and a darker, flatter leaf kale with an “embossed texture.” This
darker variety, lacinato, is also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale. It has a
slightly sweeter flavor and its leaves are more delicate than its curly cousins.

Kale is quite easy to prepare:

· Raw, chopped: Finely chopped, raw kale can add nice texture
and flavor to a salad. The leaves are tougher than traditional lettuce, but the
bite gives salads a nice fresh crunch.

· Blanch & Drain: flash boiling kale can be a great way to soften
it up. Bring a pot of water to boil, toss in the washed leaves for 1-2 minutes
(until bright green). Remove, drain, and squeeze out excess water. Chop,
separate the leaves and add to pasta or rice dishes, quiche or casserole.

· Roast: Kale “chips” are quite popular and now commercially
available. The result of roasting leaves is a light crunchy vegetable with a lot
of flavor and pop – a great, simple side dish.

o To make kale chips:

. Preheat oven to 400°.

. Wash and dry a head of kale (preferably one of the curly varieties) and
remove thick stems Note: A salad spinner works great for drying leaves.

. Tear into bite size pieces and place in a bowl. Toss with 1-2 Tbsp of olive
oil, some salt and a generous amount of pepper.

. Place seasoned leaves in a baking dish or on a cookie sheet, taking care
not to pack the leaves in too tightly – more space will result in crispier chips.
You may wish to use 2-3 baking sheets depending on the amount of kale you
are roasting.

. Roast ~20-25 minutes until the leaves are crispy and lightly browned –
you may need to turn the leaves once during cooking.

. Add a bit of garlic for even more seasoned chips or play around with your
own seasoning mix (i.e., cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, lemon pepper….)

· Wash, Mix, Stir: Washed and stemmed raw kale leaves can be added in
the last 2-3 minutes of cooking a variety of pasta dishes and stir fry to wilt
the leaves and add great flavor & nutrition.

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