If greens were ranked by status, kale would be wearing the crown. First cousin to cabbage and collards, kale is loaded with beta carotene and vitamins A, C and K. Kale also contains valuable nutrients, such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances that are useful in preventing bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate cancers.
Kale is also a low-calorie food. One cup of chopped kale has only 36 calories. A good source of dietary fiber, kale is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
If you search www.allrecipes.com, you can find many ways to prepare kale. A simple way is to tear the kale into small pieces and steam it. Add seasonings to taste, and you have a satisfying side dish. Kale chips can also replace potato chips. For a winter vegetable hash, mix kale with winter vegetables (such as mushrooms, potatoes, red pepper and acorn squash). Add kale to your scrambled eggs in the morning for a healthy breakfast frittata. Or create a kale and potato frittata for an easy-to-prepare nightly meal.
Kale soup also makes a hearty main dish. Kale and bean soup recipes are numerous; here’s one that I found in the Fall 2010 issue of World Ark, a magazine published by Heifer International. I revised the recipe and added some options to lower the calories.
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 pound ground sausage (such as Italian, linquica or chorizo) or chopped ham. (Optional)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic oil
1/2 to 1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
14.5-ounce can cannellini, kidney or garbanzo beans, drained and washed
1/2 cup potato flakes (optional)
3/4 cup potatoes, diced (optional)
Brown the sausage in a large pot and cook thoroughly. Remove the sausage and set aside. Sauté the onion in the liquid from the sausage. Add the tablespoon of olive oil if additional liquid is needed. When the onion is translucent, add the broth, beans and sausage. Simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste. Add the kale and simmer for 10 additional minutes. For a thicker soup, add the potato flakes during the last 3 minutes of cooking or purée one cup of the soup in a blender or with a food wand and return to the pot.
Photo courtesy of James Wilsher