Queen of Green Kale

You know how important it is to eat your green leafy vegetables. But which one first comes to mind? Survey says – spinach. Yes, we know how much Popeye loved his spinach and how strong he became after downing a can or two of the stuff. We are not knocking spinach – we happen to love it. You can find us using baby leaves in a salad, layering it into a lasagna, or using chopped frozen spinach for my cilantro-spinach pesto. But it’s time to step outside your green comfort zone and try another nutritional powerhouse – Kale.

varieties-of-kale-1167557Kale comes in a few varieties and is just bursting with nutrition. Found in the curly, ornamental, and dinosaur varieties, it’s always best to buy organic kale, as they are on the “Dirty Dozen” list for pesticide load. Rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and fiber, a regular intake of kale can help lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It’s also super-low in calories, at just 35 calories a cup, making it very figure-friendly.

*Note: If you are taking blood-thinning drugs, like Coumadin, make sure to let your doctor know if you plan on eating more than 1/2 cup of green leafy vegetables a day. Foods high in vitamin K promote blood clotting, which runs counter to the action of blood-thinners. You don’t have to avoid these foods, just make sure your doctor is aware of the quantity that you are eating so they can adjust your medication dosage as necessary.

 How to Use Kale

Kale can be eaten raw or cooked and is very easy to prepare. Look for a dark color with hardy stems. The smaller leaves are more tender. Kale will keep for 3-5 days in the refrigerator (unwashed). Here are some suggestions of ways to use kale:

  • “Almost Raw” salad: Roughly chop kale and lightly steam (about 2 minutes). Add to a bowl with some shaved sweet onion, chopped sun-dried tomatoes (if oil-packed, drain before using; if not, then reconstitute in hot water before chopping), a minced garlic clove and some red wine vinegar
  • Kale chips: Crispy and lower calorie snack. Yummy and addicting.
  • Saute chopped kale, garlic, and pine nuts in a little olive oil and serve over whole-grain pasta or spaghetti squash and sprinkle with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Garlicky Kale: Steam 1-2 bunches of kale until soft; drain. In a large saute pan, heat some olive oil and saute 3-5 cloves of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes until the garlic just starts to turn golden. Add the kale to the garlic and toss to coat. Transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and place in the oven under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese starts to turn golden and nutty.

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Hearty Tuscan Soup

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 149

Fat per serving: 0.1 (g)

Carbs per serving: 29.5 (g)

Protein per serving: 8.2 (g)

Fiber per serving: 5.7 (g)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed, and chop the leaves
  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
  • 1 tbs. fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock (low-sodium)
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, saute 1/2 chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots, and 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic in 1 tbs. olive oil for 4 minutes.
  2. Add vegetable or chicken stock, cannellini beans (rinsed and drained), potatoes, kale, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.
  3. Serve with some fresh parmesan cheese and a small piece of crusty whole-grain bread.
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