Why Cook With Kale?

Why You Should Eat Kale
Photo by Deborah Rainford on Unsplash

Over the last decade, many people have been going crazy for kale. It could be because kale has been praised for being highly nutritious and versatile. But when it comes to taste, kale can be polarizing. Some people love it and some people hate it. This is due the the bitter flavor which can be too intense for certain taste buds. But what they might not know is that this bitterness can be mellowed based on how it is prepared which can be worth  it to get all the goodness of kale into your diet. Read on to learn what makes kale so special and why you should consider incorporating more kale into your cooking.

What Is Kale?
Kale is a leafy vegetable that is a part of the cabbage family. It is grown around the world and comes in all different sizes, shapes and colors. There are many types of kale and the most popular type of kale tends to be common curly kale, which is a deep green in color with frilly large leaves. You can typically find this at your local grocery store. For the freshest kale, shop between September and December during harvest season.

The Health Benefits Of Kale
Kale is often said to be the most nutritious vegetable on the planet. It contains every major vitamin and mineral that your body needs. It is particularly rich in vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C. It also contains high levels of vitamin B6, manganese, calcium and potassium. All of these vitamins and minerals can help to boost the immune system, improve cardiovascular health, protect eyesight, protect the brain, protect the skin and lower cholesterol. There is even evidence to suggest that a kale-heavy diet can ward off cancer.

Ways To Cook With Kale
There are clear benefits to getting more kale in your diet. But just how should you eat kale? There are a number of different ways to prepare kale: you can roast it, saute it, steam it, blanch it, braise it or even eat it raw. In all cases it maintains much of its nutritional value. Kale can also easily be incorporated into a variety of different dishes. Here are some ways you can add kale into your meals to level up their nutritional content.

Mix With Pasta
Kale can be a great ingredient for mixing into pasta dishes. You can grind it up and combine with cheese, pine nuts and garlic to make a pesto for a tasty pasta dish. You can also serve it with red pepper flakes, white wine and black pepper.  It’s possible to fry the kale with other ingredients (although you don’t want to fry it for too long) or you can cook it separately and mix it with the other ingredients after. Another simple and delicious way to have kale with pasta is to make it in one pot with sausage and pasta.

Pair It With Rice
Another carbohydrate that pairs well with kale is rice and there are many one pot recipes for rice and greens that are as simple to prepare as they are comforting and filling. Kale makes a nice and healthy addition to fried rice. And even if you're not vegan, this rice, beans, tofu and greens is a macronutrient rich meal with protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber and healthy fats is sure to satisfy. And it comes together easily in one pot.

Put It In A Soup
Adding kale greens into a soup allows them to get cooked down until they are tender which will also mellow out the bitter taste. There are many different soups that you can mix kale into. For an option that’s wholesome and vegan, you can try this creamy white bean soup recipe with kale. For a thick non-vegan soup, you can mix kale with potatoes, cream and garlic. You can also throw kale into a variety of spicy Asian soups or congee or mix it into an Italian soup with cannellini beans and diced tomatoes. Here is a recipe for a black bean, hominy and kale stew that is so hearty you won't even miss the meat.

Scramble With Eggs
Egg is another impressive superfood that is packed with vitamins and nutrients. Pairing it with kale can make for an incredibly healthy combination that will have your body running at its peak. The best way to incorporate kale into an egg dish is to add it into an omelette or simply mix it in with scrambled egg. You can also add other ingredients like spinach, onions, red pepper and cheese for an explosion of flavors.

Add To A Smoothie
Another quick and easy way to consume kale is in the form of a smoothie. For a fruity and sweet smoothie, try mixing kale with banana, avocado, pineapple and lime. For a burst of protein, throw in some almond butter and flax seeds. For a Japanese twist, consider blending kale with matcha, ginger and almond milk.

Toss In A Stir Fry
Kale also works quite well in a stir fry. You can stir fry kale with garlic and onion with a side dish. You can also pair it with a protein like tofu or chicken or work it into a noodle dish. A few ingredients that work particularly well with kale in a stir fry include sesame seeds, garlic, chilli and ginger. Try this kale stir fry recipe.

Make A Salad
An obvious and simple way to get some kale into your diet could be to add it into a salad. This can include cooked or uncooked kale. There are any number of ingredients that you can include a kale salad. For a Greek-style salad, consider throwing in some feta cheese and then drizzle with lemon olive oil. For an Asian twist, try a combination of cabbage, carrots and edamame with soy or peanut dressing. Typical salad ingredients such as tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado also pair well with kale. And try tossing it with other leafy greens like lettuce, cabbage and spinach. If you prefer your kale to be softer, massage the leaves before incorporating it into your salad. Just add chopped kale to a large bowl, top with lemon juice and olive oil and massage the kale for about 3 minutes to break down the fibrous texture and infuse the flavors into the kale. Homemade dressing are easier to make than you think and healthier than store bought. Try a garlic lemon tahini dressing on your salad. 

This is a contributed post.


Ivana Split said...

Great ideas with kale!

Jackie Harrison said...

I love kale as chips in soup like you mention and for smoothies.