It’s a new month and guess what that means? You best get your tastebuds ready for a new delicious and healthy food that’s In Season! Today Linda LaRue, creator of the new, total-body core workout specialty resistance-tubing system The Core Transformer and big-time foodie, makes her pick for February: the one and only kale! Learn why kale is so awesome, how to buy, how to store it, and one tasty kale recipe to eat it up, yum! —Jenn
Kale Nutrition Facts
Gone are the days when greens, mainly kale, collard and Swiss chard, were salted and stewed beyond recognition. Today kale is the sexy new salad staple that’s prominently featured in trendy restaurant menus from Melrose Avenue to Rodeo Drive—and for good reason. Kale is one of those super foods that’s good for just about every part of your body. Kale is a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties and is considered to have anti-inflammatory properties, too. Kale is very high in beta-carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin and reasonably rich in calcium. (Note: Because of its high vitamin K content, patients taking anti-coagulants such as Warfarin are encouraged to avoid this food because it increases the vitamin K concentration in the blood, which is what the drugs are often attempting to lower.)
Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas (cruciferous), contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer/anti-inflammatory properties. Sulforaphane, which is formed when cruciferates are chopped or chewed, triggers the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals, inhibits chemically induced breast cancers in animal studies and induces colon cancer cells to go bye-bye.
Types of Kale
There are three types of kale: Curly, Black and Russian.
Curly Kale: Curly is the most common variety of kale that you can find in most supermarkets. Curly kale has large broad leaves with kinked and curly edges. It ranges in color from a light green to a dark purple, though dark green is the most common color. (Colored curly kale leaves are typically used as garnishes.)
Black Kale: Also known as Tuscan, this kale (my favorite) has oblong shaped, deep green bubbly leaves. This variety hails from Italy and grows in tall, long stalks. Choose leaves that are less than 18 inches because longer leaves tend to be bitter.
Red or Russian Kale: These kale leaves resemble oak leaves, because of their soft sage color and red veins. Russian kale is milder and sweeter in flavor than the other two varieties. When cooked, the green and red coloring in its leaves intensifies, creating a dramatic deep red and vibrant green color palette.
How to Buy, Store and Use Kale
How to buy: Choose leaves that are firm, not wilted, and are deeply colored with stems that are moist and strong. Make sure the leaves have no brown or yellow spots, and make sure they are free from small holes.
How to store: First wrap the kale in a paper towel. Then, place it in an airtight bag in the refrigerator. Kale typically stores well for up to one week. (A chef taught me to wrap it in paper towel. It’s amazing how it will keep the leaves fresh and perky!)
How to use: Only wash the kale when you are ready to use it, as washing before storage will make the leaves spoil faster. (Cooking note: As I prefer my kale slightly crunchy, I hold off on putting kale into soups or any other cooked recipe until the end. This will also help maintain its bright green color.)
Now who’s ready to try a new kale recipe? We are!
Linda’s Kale with Spicy Peanut Dressing
Lately, I am obsessed with macrobiotic restaurant chain, M Café’s Kale with Spicy Peanut Dressing. (I honestly can’t get enough of it.) Here’s my version of their super-tasty kale dish!
2 large bunch kale
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped for garnish
1/2 red medium sized onion, halved and sliced for garnish
½ cup peanut butter
1 ½ T. honey
2 T. low sodium soy sauce
2 T. brown rice vinegar
½ tsp. garlic, minced
½ tsp. ginger, minced
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 ½ oz. hot water
- Remove the kale from the stems. Add a pinch of salt to a pot of boiling water, then blanch the kale for 3 min. Remove the kale from the boiling water and shock it in a container of ice water. Finally, squeeze the excess water out of the cooled kale.
- To make Spicy Peanut Dressing: Place all dressing ingredients into a blender. Blend until mixture turns into a smooth consistency.
- Drizzle the dressing on top of the kale and mix the kale and dressing together until kale is evenly coated. Garnish with sliced red onions and chopped peanuts.
- The spicy peanut dressing stores well refrigerated for up to 6 weeks.
And stay tuned to Monday for another delicious and winter-appropriate kale recipe! In the meantime, tell us: What’s your favorite way to eat kale? —Linda