Wednesday, February 29, 2012

0 Kale, the forgotten green...

Some people don't like kale because it has a slightly bitter taste and it can be a bit tough – if you're one of these people there are ways to prepare it that will surprise you and perhaps change your dislike for this super veggie (23 Super Veggies, October 12, 2011). One of the great things about kale, besides it's health benefits, is that it has a very long growing season so it's available throughout most of the winter.

Kale is in the same family as broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts. It's super nutritious, so you should consider adding it to your diet. One cup of kale has 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 180% RDA of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and get this a whopping 1,020% of vitamin K. Kale is good for your bones, eyes, muscles, reduces your risk of cancer, helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart disease. One thing to keep in mind though is that kale contains high levels of oxalates which can interfere with the absorption of calcium, so avoid eating calcium rich foods at the same time as eating kale.

A friend of mine, Gareth, cooks kale in a mixture of left-over pickle juice and water to help mask the bitter flavor. You can also cook it with a couple of cloves of garlic and some red wine vinegar, or you can eat it raw in a salad, chopped up in soup, or tossed into some pasta with pine nuts, olive oil and feta cheese. Below is a recipe for a healthy nutritious meal using kale with quinoa and sweet potatoes. Also I've provided a recipe for baked kale chips which you can make and use as a healthy substitute for potato chips.

I don't remember where I found this recipe, but I was inspired to try it because of a similar dish that I like at a local vegan restaurant called POCO. I have to say that I like POCO's a lot better. I'll need to do some more experimenting with this, I think that it might be better with less balsamic vinegar mixed into the kale before baking.  You can also substitute acorn or butternut squash for the sweet potatoes and maybe garnish it with some feta cheese.  Give it a try yourself, tell me what you think and if you make changes to it that you like better let me know what they are. Thanks!

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Kale
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups kale
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sweet potatoes and red onion slices in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss together and then put them on a large baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir a few times while baking.

2. Drizzle kale with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. When the sweet potatoes and onions have been in the oven for 15 minutes, put the kale in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until kale is wilted and starting to get a little crispy.

3. While the vegetables are roasting, make the quinoa. Using a strainer, rinse the quinoa under cold water. Add quinoa, water, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Let cool quinoa cool to room temperature.

4. When the vegetables are done roasting, let them cool to room temperature. Chop up the red onion slices and kale. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, sweet potatoes, red onion, and kale. Drizzle the salad with remaining three tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and add in the dried cranberries. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 6

Nutritional Data
Calories 256
Total Fat 5 g
     Saturated Fat 1 g
     Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 62 mg
Total Carbohydrates 50 g
     Dietary Fiber 5 g
     Sugars 17 g
Protein 6 g
Vitamin A 226%
Vitamin C 71%
Calcium 8%
Iron 13%

Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
1-2 Tbl olive oil
salt to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse, dry and remove stems from kale. Put into a bowl, drizzle with oil, covering as much of the leaves as you are able. Place kale on a baking sheet, in a single layer, sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes – check at about 12 minutes, you want them to be dark green and crispy – do not burn.   For more flavor, you can sprinkle with parmesan cheese, garlic powder, paprika, etc.

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