Monday, June 11, 2012

Kale 101

Tired of the same old boring veggies?  Looking for healthy and delicious alternatives?  Why not add kale to your vegetable repertoire...

Gaining in popularity, kale is an amazing vegetable being recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor.  This leafy green vegetable belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Eating a variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables can do wonders for your health, but choosing super-nutritious kale on a regular basis may provide significant health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.

The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around.  One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Although it can be found in markets throughout the year, it is in season from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring when it has a sweeter taste and is more widely available.
Look for kale with firm, deeply colored leaves and moist hardy stems. The leaves should look fresh, not wilted, and be free from signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes. Choose kale with smaller-sized leaves since these will be more tender and have a more mild flavor than those with larger leaves.

Store kale in a plastic storage bag removing as much of the air from the bag as possible, in the refrigerator where it will keep for about 5 days. The longer it is stored, the more bitter its flavor becomes. Don't wash until ready to use.

When ready to cook, rinse leaves under cool running water. Chop leaf portion into 1/2" slices and the stems into 1/4" lengths for quick and even cooking.

This leafy vegetable, holds up really well to all cooking methods.  Unlike more fragile greens, like spinach and arugula, it retains bite and texture making it particularly versatile in the kitchen.

Sauteed Kale with Butter Beans

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