When visiting the grocery store, do you always gravitate toward the same old produce? Bananas, apples, corn, and potatoes seem to grace American tables all the time, while dozens of wonderful and tasty fruits and vegetables get left behind. Break out of your produce rut and try some new flavors such as the nutritional powerhouse dark leafy green, kale.
About kale. Kale is a dark, leafy green that often gets forgotten amongst spinach and leaf lettuce. Kale is a member of the cabbage and Brussels sprouts family, however kale looks more like a curly spinach. Kale can be eaten raw or cooked and has a pungent, somewhat bitter flavor that blends well with more mellow flavors in dishes. When choosing kale at the grocery store, look for smaller leaves, which have a milder flavor than the larger leaves.
Preparing Kale. Just like other greens, kale grows on the ground so you want to wash it thoroughly just before eating. Rinse kale in running water for several minutes as your separate the leaves. Kale can often be purchased in pre-washed, pre-cut bags so if time is a factor you may want to consider purchasing kale in this form. Kale stores best in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag. You can find kale in the grocery store throughout the year; however the peak season is late winter through spring.
Ways to eat Kale. Kale can be used much like any other green, however, because of the rather strong flavor kale imparts, you most likely want to mix it in with other greens, rather than using it as a stand alone vegetable. Fresh salads get a nutritional punch when you add kale to them. Kale can be substituted for spinach in many dishes as well. The bitter flavor of kale contrasts perfectly with the sweeter flavors of Asian stir-fries which feature sugary sauces and sweet peppers.
Why eat kale. Now we come to the really good stuff. Kale is one of the healthiest foods that exist. Considered by most nutrition experts to be one of the all important “superfoods,” kale contains tons of nutrients. Kale is a great source of calcium, as well as vitamin A, C, and K. Kale contains fiber and provides manganese. Most notably, kale has tons of antioxidants. These antioxidants have been proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers, including colon cancer. And you get all this for only about 35 calories per cup.
The next time you visit the produce section of your grocery store, think outside the box and pick up some kale to add a healthy new vegetable to your diet.
Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods, www.whfoods.org
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