Kale: nutritional bang for the buck

Kale is something of a healthy food cliché these days.  It’s green and leafy and packed with nutrients and fiber.  What could be wrong with that?  But people who are used to highly processed food may be put off by the chewy texture or dense, bitter flavor.  They might conclude that, if this is the definition of healthy food, they’d rather eat french fries.  That’s unfortunate.

Kale aficionados get a lot of nutritional bang for their buck, with few calories.  One cup of chopped raw kale is 33 calories, with an impressive 3 grams of protein.  That’s as much protein per calorie as lowfat milk.  Kale also has significant:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • potassium
  • iron
  • vitamin K

Most people think of kale as a cooked side dish.  Sauté it, perhaps with mushrooms or onions, or add to soups, pasta dishes or casseroles.  Kale works well in risotto.  Try raw kale in salad.  You can add small amounts of chopped kale leaves to a tossed green salad.  If you’re really adventurous, try this recipe for kale salad:

  • Start with a bunch of kale.  Rip kale leaves from the stems, into small pieces and wash.
  • Peel and cut an apple into slivers.
  • Grate carrots, so you have about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of grated carrots
  • Toast 1 to 1-1/2 cups of sliced almonds.
  • Put all these ingredients into a large salad bowl, with 1 cup raisins.  Toss with olive oil (2-3 TB), 1-3 teaspoons lemon juice, balsamic vinegar to taste (1 TB), salt and pepper.  Optional: add 1-2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil.

It helps if you let the salad sit for several minutes before serving.  It serves 4 people as a hearty salad dish, 6 as a side salad.  Or it can be the main meal for 2-3 people, along with bread (cornbread or whole wheat French bread).  It’s vegan and vegetarian.

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