Kale 101

November 26, 2012

Kale is one of the most talked about veggies these days for its powerful nutritional punch. Find out the basics here

What is Kale?
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable with green leaves (Brassica oleracea), with several varieties: curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (lLcinato or Tuscan) kale, all differ in taste, texture, and appearance.
How to Buy:
Look for firm, evenly colored, unwilted leaves (yellow edges indicate age) and moist hardy stems. Avoid those with brown spots or small holes. Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and a lively pungent flavor with an edge of pepper.
Ornamental kale (salad savoy) has either green, white, or purple leaves and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head; mellow in flavor and tender in texture. Dinosaur kale or Lacinato or Tuscan kale has dark blue-green leaves with embossed texture and a slightly sweeter, more delicate taste. Smaller-sized leaves are more tender and mild than larger leaves. “Baby” kale is also available.
How to Use:
Steam, bake, sauté or use in a stir-fry, or soup, or with grains. Lightly dress in olive oil and lemon for a raw salad. 1-1 ½ cups are a healthful serving.
How to Store:
Place kale in a plastic storage bag removing air as possible. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (some can be stored longer), although age increases bitterness. Wash only before using to avoid spoilage.
Health Benefits:
Kale is a nutrition dream, high in fiber, antioxidants and carotenoids (lutein and beta-carotene), and more than 45 flavonoids, particularly kaempferol, anti-inflammatory nutrients (omega-3), and twice the vitamin K as other cruciferous vegetables. Contains vitamins A, C, E, various B vitamins, as well as tryptophan, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, protein, and more. NOTE: Does contain oxalates; those with kidney or gallbladder concerns should monitor intake.
Smarter Shopper:  
Although available year round, kale’s primary season is mid-winter to early spring, and yields a sweeter leaf.
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