Thursday, January 17, 2013

Forget Chikin! Eat More Kale!

I "discovered" a great new product at Costco the other day:  Baby kale.  I'm talking about "discovered" in the same way that Columbus discovered America.  It was already there, and people knew it was there, but in my world, it was a new thing.  I was so excited, because the thing about adult kale is that it is quite strong tasting and tends to taint the flavor of smoothies.  You really need to become friends with this luscious leafy green, because it is being touted as the most nutrient dense food on the planet.  One of my first thoughts (with thousands of thoughts/minute going through my head, it's hard to know which one actually gets credit for being "first") when I saw it was to wonder if it had the same nutritional profile that adult kale has.  Well, I don't know the exact profile of its more mature predecessors, but I'm thinking that the baby is doing quite well for itself.  Just get a load of the listing on the ingredient label, and I'm going to compare it to spinach so you can see how awesome this stuff is:

     BABY KALE                    SPINACH
Vitamin A    260%             110%
Calcium         10%               8%
Vitamin K    870%                0%
Vitamin C    170%               40%
Iron              8%                 15%

Isn't that amazing?? Well, I thought it was.  Also, and I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but I read a while back that the nutrition in kale actually goes up when it's cooked, and not just steamed.  You can cook the daylights out of it, and it is still super healthy for you. Of course the above numbers are for raw kale, so you don't need to cook it to get plenty of nutrition; just know that if you do, you'll only be adding to it. So let me tell you about this recipe I made out of it today.  I have 3 children at home during the day and they all ate it AND like it!  One of them is super fussy, so she just took a small piece, but then ate the rest of it.

I'm calling this recipe:

Green Eggs and Kale 
Time: 10 minutes or less
Serves 4

Kale (I use baby kale. If using adult kale, chop it up.)
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (or whatever cheese you want)
Oil (I use coconut oil.)

You'll need a frying pan with a lid.  Put about a tablespoon of oil in the pan, and start it heating on medium heat. Crack 8 eggs into your blender. Loosely pack in the kale and blend it up.  You can then add more kale, maybe a couple more cups to really load it in, and blend again.  When the oil is hot, pour the mixture into the pan and put the lid on it.  Cook until the eggs are all cooked.  If it's a little frothy on top, you can cut it into 4ths and flip each piece over for another minute or so, until it's all cooked.  Put a wedge on a plate and top with salsa and a spoonful of grated cheese.  Yum!

Another way I used it the other day was as a substitute for lettuce in a wrap. Just for fun, I looked up the nutrition data on Romaine lettuce.  Are you ready for this?  It says 10% on Vitamin A and 2% on Vitamin C.  Just for more fun (b/c you can't really have too much of that), I looked up iceberg lettuce, and guess what?  It lists more nutrients than Romaine!  Here you go: Vit. A  7%, Vit. C  3%, Calcium  1%, Iron 2%.  I say we scrap the lettuce and eat kale and spinach.  

Here's a recipe for a delicious wrap, using kale:

Turkale with Cranberry Wrap


Tortilla (I like whole wheat)
Laughing Cow cheese wedge 
Leftover turkey
Cranberry sauce

Lay the tortilla on a plate and spread it with the cheese.  I was using a whole wedge, but you would actually be fine with 1/2.  Of course, they're only about 30 calories per wedge, so indulge if you want to. Then put the turkey on top of the cheese.  I just spread it apart, so I could cover more area with less.  Then spread a couple of spoonfuls of cranberry sauce over the turkey, and add a layer of baby kale.  You can eat this cold, or plop the whole thing on a heated, dry frying pan and warm it up a bit.  I had mine warm, and it was fabulous.  

One other way I've eaten it this week is to just steam it in a frying pan with a little bit of water.  Put the frying pan on the stove, and turn the heat to medium. Put enough water in the pan to just barely cover the bottom.  Put a few big handfuls of the kale in the pan, put the lid on and steam it for a couple of minutes.  Don't go anywhere!  This won't take long. When it's barely steamed, take it off the heat, sprinkle on a little bit of Soy or Tamari sauce, or Bragg's Aminos (I have this in a little spray bottle that works great!), and then sprinkle a tablespoon of fresh grated Parmesan cheese (only about 30 calories in that much cheese), and enjoy.  You could also add some craisins and Greek olives if you like.  Delish!

A few more ideas of ways to use kale:

Use it in your green smoothies
Add it to soups and chilis.  To make it less noticeable, you can chop it up or blend it first, but it's really fine as is.  
Blend some up and add it to a corn bread recipe. 
Add it so a stir fry.
Use it instead of food coloring on St. Patrick's Day to color everything you make. :)  

Well, you get the idea. Give it a try!