So what is kale? Well, it’s a leafy, green vegetable whose close relatives include nutritional powerhouses like broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts. Available in a variety of colors ranging from shades of dark green to hues of maroon, kale offers a wide range of nutritional benefits to its consumers. Rich in vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, potassium and calcium, kale easily snags king-status in the land of veggies. But it’s not always a first choice when rummaging through our refrigerators or the local grocery store, especially standing next to the more well-known greens like cabbage or spinach. As Fort Wayne Living dug into the nutritional benefits of this neglected green, we sat down with Debby Raftree, an RN and lifestyle health coach at Spiece Fitness, and asked her what she had to say about kale and how we can learn to appreciate the leafy, mean, green machine.
Fort Wayne Living (FWL): Why should people consume kale?
Raftree: You really want a lot of color on your plate, and when you’re talking salads, you not only want color, but you want a variety of greens. Spinach, kale and romaine can fit the bill, but kale should be at the top of the list when it comes to greens. Kale has a lot of fiber, and it also has vitamins A, C and K, as well as potassium, magnesium and folic acid. Those are all good things. Then there is the eye aspect. For some dealing with macular degeneration, doctors encourage them to include more lutein in their diet. Guess what? Kale is high in lutein.
FWL: Does kale raise any red flags?
Raftree: The vitamin K in kale helps with blood clotting which is generally good. But if you’re on drugs related to Warfarin, which prevent blood clotting, this can have a negative effect. You should talk to your doctor if you’re on a drug like that because they might work at odds. Having a little bit of kale is OK, but if you’re having kale every morning in your smoothie and you’re adding it to your salad, you could get into trouble.
FWL: For those of us just beginning our kale journey, where should we start?
Raftree: Put it in a smoothie! But if you do that, don’t forget to remove the spine of the kale leaves. The spine is very fibrous. I like what’s called Lacinato kale. It’s shaped like a feather, and its flavor is not as strong. I take the spine out, cut the leaves into thin ribbons and add them to my smoothie in the morning.
How do we eat this green machine? Recognizing the nutritional benefits of kale is our first step in this vegetable voyage, yet still one question remains—how do we eat it? With that query in mind, we asked Raftree how she honors King Kale throughout her day, and this is what she told us.
Breakfast: “I love breakfast with kale. Try this one—sliced potatoes and kale (sweet potatoes would be preferable to white, but if you opt to use white, keep the skins on and slice them thinly). Start by sautéing chopped onions and adding a little garlic. When the onions are translucent, add the potatoes and get those cooking. Then add kale on top. If you would like, you can add a couple of eggs on the side. This breakfast will stay with you for a long time. There are also people who add kale to their morning oatmeal.”
Lunch: “A salad is a great way to enjoy kale at lunch. Or, if you are willing to try new things, try this one. Sauté kale in a pan with olive oil and crushed garlic, plate it up and drizzle some red wine vinegar over the top. It’s a quick, easy and very tasty salad.”
Dinner: “I like to cook ribbons of kale in soup or I will put the ribbons, or spinach leaves, in the bottom of my soup bowl and then put the hot soup on top, which softens it. I never have soup without greens added to it. And stew is the same way, I always add greens.”
Looking for a couple kale creations? Look no further! Check out this recipe for Butternut Squash with Kale & Pomegranates and Baked Kale Chips!