What Is Kale & Why Should I Eat It?

Just like fashion trends that flaunt their way across the runways of Paris and Milan and into our wardrobes at home, food trends have a runway of their own. Swap those skinny jeans and leopard print shoes for some kale and chia seeds and your in fashion with food.

To be honest I don't know how trends occur or who decides that's important to have an over sized  hand bag and over sized glasses to be in the fashionably "with it" crowd. It's the same with food... one day kale and chia are a nondescript no name, hippy food that only skinny, dread locked bohemians eat. Then BAM it's touted all over the media as the next best thing since chia seeds and quinoa and the rich and famous are buying it by the bucket load and then so do we. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against Kale or any of these other foods, I just don't get the phenomenon. However I am thankful that I discovered kale, chia and quinoa through the food fashion runway!

So enter one of the "must eat"super foods of this season and for many seasons gone... Kale.
What is kale? Well if you have been living in McDonalds and fast food shops for the past couple of years you probably haven't seen or heard what kale is. Let me explain. If you're already chowing it down in your green smoothies and sneaking it into salads - then good for you!

Kale is a large, dark-green ruffled leafy plant, considered to be part of the Brassica family or commonly known as the Cabbage family. Other vegetables that come under this term are Cabbages, Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli. The plant does not form a head like Cabbages and Broccoli but sprout out dark-leafy leaves which are picked to be eaten. It's these leaves which everyone is going crazy for. There are a number of different varieties that are available to be grown from seed but the most common varieties that you will find in the shops is the Curly Leaved & Cavolo Nero varieties. You can find more information about growing Kale here. Kale is very similar to spinach and silverbeet but with a "meatier" texture and stronger flavour.

If you don't have a green thumb and have a hankering to try kale, you can find it in most supermarkets and fruit and vegetable shops. Unfortunately with a bit of a hefty price tag attached to it. That is why I grow my own. I have planted the curly leaved and cavolo nero varieties in our veggie patch and I have an endless supply of kale all year round.

So why is Kale so good for you? This is what I found out about our leafy, green friend.

  • Contains high levels of Vitamin K, Vitamin C (more than a orange) & Vitamin A
  • High in calcium - contains more calcium per calorie than milk!
  • It is rich in antioxidants 
  • High in iron - more iron per calorie than beef!
  • High in fibre - keeps you "regular"
  • Aids in concentration
  • Helps lower cholesterol as part of a healthy diet
  • Has cancer fighting properties
  • Great detoxifying aid 
 All of this in one ruffled leafed plant! Amazing! So how do I incorporate this into my diet? If you're a bit scared of green stuff then you will need to take a step back, brace yourself and try something new and be pleasantly surprised. For you old hand kale eaters this is nothing new for you and maybe you can drop a few suggestions in the comments below!

There are numerous ways you can sneak kale into your diet and reap the benefits of this rich superfood. Here are a few suggstions:

  • Make a "green" smoothie: If you haven't already heard about one of these it is basically a big green milkshake! I know that doesn't sound appetizing but trust me it tastes great. Into a blender place: 250ml milk/or water, 1 stick of celery, 1/4 cucumber, 1/2 green apple, 1 cup kale, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon . Blend it all up and enjoy! Play around with different combinations of fruit such as add in some berries or instead of cinnamon add some cocoa powder for a chocolate version! I have these for breakfast regularly - even my little boy adores them.
  • Sub Spinach for Kale in a frittata or quiche
  • Saute up some roughly chopped kale with a little garlic and some flaked almonds to have alongside your scrambled eggs in the morning.
  • Make Kale Pesto - using kale instead of basil.
  •  Roast some Kale in the oven with a little olive oil and salt to make the ever fashionable Kale Chip.
  • Finely chop kale up and toss it through your salad.
  • Make my Summertime Soup and add in a good handful of kale.
  • Instead of making a Zucchini bread toss in a cup or two of finely sliced Kale leaves.
  • Add some finely chopped kale when making fritters or my Morroccan Quinoa Cakes.
  • Saute up some garlic, chilli, red onion and cherry tomatos until soft. Toss through some Kale and wilt slightly. Add to some freshly cooked pasta and finish off with some parmesan cheese and a good glug of olive oil.
So if you have a hankering to get onto the Kale food train why not buy some seeds and grow your own or scour your local nursery for some seedlings. You don't need a big vegetable patch to do it and 1 -2 plants will be more than enough to start off with. Also get creative with adding this nutrient dense superfood to your diet and reap the healthy rewards that it brings!

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