Kale (originally known as ‘cole’ or ‘colewort’) is a green, leafy vegetable very similar to cabbage. It is one of few green vegetables which grow well into winter (very hardy!). A light frost produces especially sweet kale leaves. It belongs to the ‘brassica’ family along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, and exists in many different varieties including red russian kale, cavolo nero (or ‘black kale’), curly kale and thousand-head kale.
Why is it good for me?
- Iron – per calorie, kale contains more iron than beef. Iron is essential for the transport of oxygen in the body.
- Vitamin K – kale is particularly high in vitamin K. 100g kale provides 817 μg vitamin K (778% recommended daily intake). Vitamin K is important for bone health and blood clotting (thus helping wounds to heal well).
- Calcium – again, per calorie kale contains more calcium than milk. Calcium maintains bone health and helps to prevent osteoporosis. It also regulates muscular contraction (including the heart)
- Sulforaphane – kale contains reasonable amounts of sulforaphane – a molecule which is thought to have anti-cancer properties. However, boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane (responsible for the characteristic smell released when cabbages and other members of the cabbage family are overcooked). Therefore, aim to cook it for as little as possible – try steaming, stir-frying or even raw in a salad.
- Kale is a high fibre, low calorie vegetable and also contains vitamins C and A.
What can I do with it?
- Kale chips – http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/33903/paprika+and+chilli+kale+chips – try these for an easy to prepare snack.
- Kale-slaw – for a healthy take on coleslaw combine shredded kale, shredded carrot and finely chopped red onion with some walnuts, a squeeze of orange/lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Baked kale and salmon – chop savoy cabbage and kale and spread evenly on a baking tray. Bake for 6 minutes at 230°C. Place a few salmon fillets on top of kale and bake for a further 10 minutes. Finish with a dressing of lemon juice, dill and Dijon mustard.
- Kale is also a great addition to soups, bean stews, salads and stir-fries.