You all know we love kale at We Feed You. This wonderful superfood is a key feature in many of our meals and you'll quickly understand why we love it when you read this article by dietitian and cook Nicole Marie.
Nicole Marie is an accredited dietitian and gluten free recipe developer who helps individuals with coeliac disease to spend less time worrying, and more time enjoying delicious food. Connect with Nicole via Instagram: @glutenfreekitchen__ or head to www.gfkitchen.com.au
What is kale?
Kale is a dark green, leafy, cruciferous vegetable that is super versatile and rich in nutrients and antioxidants. The peak season for kale in Victoria is the winter months, but these days it is often available all year around at supermarkets. Kale comes in many varieties, and is also an easy crop to grow for home gardeners.
The taste of kale will be subtly different between varieties, but expect a crisp, slightly bitter leaf with a hint of nutty, earthy undertones.
Here’s a summary of the key nutrition benefits found in a 40g serving of raw kale (this is about one really large handful):
- Good source of fibre (1.6g), folate, vitamins E and C
- At 104mg/serve, Kale is one of the richest non-dairy sources of calcium
- Kale is packed with antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin
- It’s also a decent source of other nutrients like potassium and iron
- Relatively low in fat, protein and carbohydrate
Why is kale so good for us?
In a nutshell, kale is known as a superfood that can contribute to our overall health and wellbeing in many ways.
On a more detailed level, the potassium level of kale can help us maintain healthy blood pressure - which in turn helps to keep blood vessels more open and elastic. The powerful antioxidants present in kale help to fight inflammation and damage in the body, which can reduce our risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as fighting the natural signs of aging. Another benefit of including kale is it’s high content of natural plant sterols – these can reduce cholesterol absorption from foods and help reduce our LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Need more reasons to eat kale? How about it’s potential to boost your digestive health? Both the fibre and antioxidants present in kale can help to keep bowels regular, gut lining healthy and feed our good gut bugs. Increasing antioxidant-rich foods like kale can also reduce our risk of digestive diseases like bowel cancer.
Here’s a few more benefits of kale!
- Kale is also a great food to include for bone health, due to it being an excellent plant-based source of calcium and vitamin K.
- Kale also contains a high amount of vitamin C and Vitamin E, and a decent amount of iron – all nutrients needed to support a healthy immune system.
- Last but not least, consuming kale regularly may support eye health, as it contains two specific phytonutrients (lutein and zeaxanthin) known to protect our vision and overall eye health as we age.
Just some varieties of kale you might encounter:
- Black Tuscan Kale or Cavolo Nero - Very dark green foliage
- Red Winter – Large green foliage with purple veins
- Squire – Curly, more tender and delicate leaves
- Chou Moellier – A tall plant with slightly curly leaves
Ways to use and cook with kale
Not sure what to do with kale – here’s some ideas:
- You can eat kale raw, in a salad with lemon or vinegar based dressing to give it zing
- Kale is delicious braised in olive oil, with vegetables like tomato, pumpkin or chickpeas (try this for your next pasta sauce)
- Add kale to stir fries or curries, for a pop of green and boost of flavour
- Sautee kale with garlic and olive oil, lemon juice and top with a little parmesan as a tasty side for eggs, fish, chicken or meat
- Add kale to your smoothie or to your salad wrap
- Make kale into crispy chips by massaging with olive oil, adding seasoning of your choice, then simply baking for 10-15 minutes in a hot oven
- You can also utilise kale chips as a crunchy topper on soups, pizza and pasta dishes