Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kale the new spinach? Or is just a passing trend?

Kale, the New Spinach ? Or just a passing Fad?

Kale seems to be the focus of so many articles, and is the main ingredient in tons of recipes and crops up on menu's in many of the finest restaurants. So what is it about kale that is creating such  buzz and attention? Is it truly the world's healthiest, powerhouse food or is this just a passing trend? 

Kale belongs to the to the Bressica family of plants, and resembles the green,leafy, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, known  for the super nutritional benefits and properties. Kale greens are known for their deeply colored leaves , that are firm and do not  yellow or wilt, but retain their crisp texture. They have therefore been used in salad decorations for years, however their benefits far extend beyond their appearance.

Kale contain rich amounts of beta-carotene, a pigment that helps protect against many skin diseases.The amount of beta-carotene found in kale  is seven times more than that found in broccoli..Besides beta-carotene, kale also contains carotenoid lutein, which helps prevent damage to the eyes and the formation of cataracts. It can also be beneficial in fighting cancer, due to it's high content of potent phyto chemicals, as well as in aiding the liver in detoxification of cancer causing substances, due to it high concentration of gluosinolates.

Kale is extremely rich in three vital nutrients, namely vitamin's A, C, K  as well as vitamin B and E.Vitamin C and E  help protect the body from the negative effects of free radicals produced in the body due to metabolic reactions, and vitamin K is essential in maintaining heart and bone health.

It is also a valuable source of calcium,potassium,iron and magnesium, which are crucial for controlling blood pressure, thus aiding our cardiovascular system, and can be is very helpful in weight loss, since it is nutritionally extremely dense, while being low in calories.It is a wonderful source of fiber, which aids digestion, and provides satiety and has a significant amount of protein.

So how do we eat this miracle vegetable? It may be prepared in many different ways either raw or cooked. For weight loss purposes, eat it raw with some apple cider vinegar, or add to your favorite green smoothies to add texture and a bite, and benefit from it's wonderful alkalizing properties. Kale is also great added to soups, or baked in the oven and crisped for a healthy snack. 

This minestone soup is one of my favorite winter soups, which is made even tastier and more nutritious with the addition of kale.

My Favorite Minestrone

11 oz canellini beans , dried and soaked over night or organic canned.
Bay leaf
1 large red onion
2 large carrots , peeled and chopped
3 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped.
3 cloves of fresh garlic
good quality extra virgin olive oil
pinch of ground fennel seeds
pinch of red chili
1 14 oz can good quality plum tomatoes
kale leaves, stalks removed and sliced
2 large zucchini
a small glass of red wine
2-3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth, depending on preference
sea salt to taste 
fresh ground black pepper
handful of fresh basil or use dried if unavailable
fresh or dries parsley

If the beans are dried, add the soaked beans to boiling water with a bay leaf, and simmer for 30 minutes. 

I begin by chopping  the vegetables the same size.Heat a saucepan with a splash of olive oil, and add the chopped onion, celery, carrots , garlic as well as the fennel and chili. Sweat slowly on low heat, with the lid ajar for about 20 minutes, till soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and zucchini and wine  and simmer 15 minutes .
Add the drained  beans and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the kale, basil and parsley and continue cooking for another 30 minutes . 
Season with salt and pepper and serve with a few splashes of olive oil.
Serves  6 -7 large bowls.


Or, make kale chips, for a quick, tasty and nutritious snack!

Kale Chips

I bunch of kale, washed an dried thouroghly and thick steams removed
1-2 TB Olive Oil
i tsp course salt
1 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Tear kale into bite size pieces
Arrange on the cookie sheet without overlapping
Drizzle with olive oil , salt and chili 
Bake 15-20 minutes until the edges are brown, crumbly and crisp.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Serve and enjoy!