By: Elizabeth Stark
Many of us strive to have a more nutritious diet, but busy schedules make it tough to eat healthily all the time. Cooking with nutrient-rich whole foods takes diligence and planning — but, there are a few simple shortcuts to help supercharge your favourite dishes with kale. With a few fast and easy recipes at the ready, you'll find it's surprisingly simple to add this leafy green to your everyday meals.
Why kale? For starters, kale provides a lot of bang for your nutritional buck. With relatively few calories per serving, kale is packed with calcium and has very high levels of Vitamins C, A and antioxidant-rich Vitamin K, as well as iron, magnesium and potassium. Because kale delivers high levels of many of these nutrients, be sure to speak with your doctor about how much kale to add to your diet.
Kale isn't just healthy, it's also delicious and versatile. It’s excellent cooked or raw and is great as a side dish or as the base of a filling salad. Grocery stores and farmers markets offer many varieties of kale, and they're all wonderful for different reasons. From the popular and peppery curly kale, to more obscure varieties like tender red Russian or deep-hued and mild lacinato kale, there's a variety for every palate. No matter what type you choose, look for smaller leaves with vibrant colour and thinner stalks. Thick stalks and yellow or very large leaves mean the kale is likely to be chewy, which can make for a less-appetizing dish — especially if you're preparing a recipe that requires raw kale. Get to know each variety by tasting it and experimenting in your kitchen.
Here are three fast and easy ways to add kale to your diet:
Smoothies Plus Kale
Smoothies are a great way to create a nutritious treat quickly, and adding kale to almost any smoothie recipe is a fantastic way to boost your vitamin and mineral intake. To make your own basic kale smoothie, place a handful of ice, 1 banana, 250 millilitres (1 cup) fresh berries (or other sweet fruit), 250 millilitres (1 cup) chopped kale and a 250 millilitres (1 cup) of your favourite fruit juice or water in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a frosty glass and enjoy.
Sautéed Kale with Fruit
Sautéed kale is an excellent and quick side dish, and the addition of seasonal fruit keeps things interesting. To make, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 30 millilitres (2 tablespoons) olive oil. Once the olive oil is hot, add 1 bunch of rinsed and rough-chopped kale and a few pinches of sea salt. Once kale begins to wilt, throw in a few slices of your favourite seasonal fruit (anything from plums to apples will do). Sauté until the kale is tender and the fruit has softened.
Already have a favourite recipe? Fresh kale blends beautifully into creamy pesto. Try subbing a 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) chopped kale for your favourite herb, or just add it into the mix.
Other Recipe Ideas
Chopped kale ribbons can be added to your favourite pasta dish or soup. Try tossing fresh or sautéed kale in with a favourite whole grain and adding a selection of chopped veggies. Fresh kale can also be pureed into mashed potatoes or tossed with roasted root vegetables. Because kale is so hearty, it's a great addition to brown bag lunches and is an excellent base for make-ahead salads. Feel free to experiment with this versatile green!
Brooklyn Supper is the story of a family eating with the seasons in Virginia and Brooklyn. The blog is written by Elizabeth, with her husband, Brian. They believe strongly that good, local food and wholesome meals should be for everyone.