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Tips for Adding Kale to Your Diet

Posted: Saturday April 25, 2015

by Imani Brown You may have never heard of kale Kale is one of those "mature" vegetables; you probably never even heard of it as a kid when your veggie repertoire consisted of just broccoli, peas and cabbage. Perhaps it wasn't until you were an adult and you started dating that sophisticated, possibly vegetarian, guy or girl who introduced you to wine paring, drinking wheat grass, eating sushi and the wondrous health benefits of kale. Why you should eat kale - nutritional benefits <br> Kalele stands out as a power veggie because of the incredible amount of nutrition packed into each curly dark green leaf. Kale is unusually high in fiber, and also has high percentages of highly absorb-able calcium and vitamin A. Calcium helps to strengthen teeth and bones, and Vitamin A is good for hair, skin, and vision. On top of that, kale is an excellent source of cancer preventing beta-carotene. Where to Find Kale Kale is not generally sold at your general grocery store such as Safeway or Raleys. Instead, it can usually be found at Whole Foods, your local farmer's market, or other health food or specialty stores. Grow it Yourself Kale is a hearty vegetable which is relatively easy to grow. Another benefit is that while it grows in all seasons, it peaks in the early winter, so depending on your local climate, it is a vegetable that you can keep growing in your garden year round. Washing Kale The first thing that you should know about what to do with kale is how to wash it. Because of the shape of the leaves and since it grows on the ground, kale, and other greens, tend to have a lot of dirt of sand in them. You might also find bugs who love to live in the curls of the leaves, so it is a good idea to wash your kale extremely well before preparing it to eat. The best way to wash kale is using two large bowls. Place the kale in one bowl then fill it with water. Push the leaves around in the bowl as the water fills into the bowl (kind of like how you'd hand wash a piece of fabric). Once the bowl is full, agitate the greens around gently with your hands to circulate the water through them thoroughly. Each leaf should be submerged and moved around. Remove the leaves from the first bowl and move them into the second bowl. Notice how much dirt and sand is in the bottom of the first bowl. Repeat the process at least 3 or 4 times, moving the kale between the two bowls until you do not see any more dirt or residue at the bottom of the bowl after a rinsing. Preparing Kale Obviously, how you prepare the kale depends on what you plan to do with it. However, in general, the best way to prepare the kale, regardless of how you will ultimately cook or serve it, is to chop it up into bite sized pieces. You can also simply wash it then remove the tough part of the stem and use the large leaves for garnish or presentation. Cooking Kale You may know that the longer you cook a vegetable, or any food, the more it loses its nutritional value. Given this, you want to look for recipes where the kale can be served very lightly cooked or raw. The ideal preparation is to bring a pot of salted water to a boil then dip the kale into the boiling water briefly, no more than 30 seconds, to slightly soften the leaves. You can also steam the leaves for 3-5 minutes. Just make sure that you do not cook it too long or else it will become mushy. Season your steamed or lightly cooked kale simply with lemon juice, salt, olive oil and pepper. The following are a few simple great preparation and serving ideas: Kale with Black Beans and Quinoa - This is a super nutritious combination of foods is high in fiber from all three ingredients. The kale the also provides the aforementioned calcium and vitamin A, and black beans provide iron and protein. Quinoa contains calcium, phosphorus, and iron and, due to its having essential amino acids such as lysine, it is known to be a perfect protein food. Lysine helps the body to absorb calcium, so you can see how these foods work together to provide the body with excellent nutritional sustenance. This is a low fat and low calorie dish that is very filling, tasty and extremely nutritious. You can also substitute brown rice for the quinoa for an equally healthy alternative. Salad with Kale - Substitute or augment the greens in your favorite salads with steamed or lightly cooked kale. This adds extra nutrition and a unique flavor to any salad. Roasted Kale - Toss steamed or lightly cooked kale in with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt.

Cook under the broiler for 5-10 minutes or until the exposed curly edges of the leaves begin to char and crisp. You can also add garlic cloves or toss in garlic oil for extra flavor.

Sauteed Kale - Heat some olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sea salt and garlic and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Raise the heat then add cup of vegetable or chicken stock or water and bring this to a boil. Add the kale, cover, and cook for 3 - 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add white, balsamic, or rice vinegar for additional flavoring. Article Source: