You’ve likely heard a lot about this nutrient-rich vegetable lately, and trust us—it lives up to the hype. Here’s how to get more of it into your diet.
MF Editors 1 / 6
By now, you’ve likely been exposed to the cult of kale. And if you’re not a convert yet, we get your reservations. When something looks so similar to the lettuce leaves you already know and love, you have to wonder: What’s the big deal?Kale is actually in the same family as cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts, but the vegetable’s dark, textured leaves pack an even bigger punch. “Kale is off the charts when it comes to nutrients,” says Ruth Frechman, R.D., a Burbank-based spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A few additional stats:-Kale is the best green in terms of antioxidants on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) chart—scoring 1,770 units while spinach clocks in at less than 1,500, says Frechman.-It's also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and cancer-fighting phytonutrients, plus it's high in carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been proven to prevent macular degeneration.-Kale has tons of fiber —one cup of this vegetable packs 90 mg into only 36 calories—while also helping to regulate enzymes that assist in detoxing your liver.You can find kale in the produce section (pro tip: peak season is winter), and you’ll want to choose stalks with firm, deep-green leaves. Store it in the coldest part of your fridge loosely wrapped in plastic, then rinse with cold water, chop off the stems, and cut the leaves into half-inch pieces or smaller.Now you’re ready to get cooking—and here are five recipes easy enough to try immediately.50 Tasty Foods Under 50 Calories >>>
1. Add Kale to a Smoothie
A kale smoothie is a great idea if you’re not used to the leafy green’s texture (everything tastes better blended up!). In a blender, throw in two bananas, a handful of kale leaves, ½ cup of water and two ice cubes. Blend it up and taste. You can play with the ingredients, adding more or less of each, as you figure out what you like best.
Grabbing a kale concoction on the go? Try a freshly-squeezed Kale Apple Pineapple Chia Seeds juice at Jamba Juice. The gluten- and dairy-free drink packs vitamins A, B6, C, and K and is made with 100% juice.
Kale’s flavor and texture is an adjustment from your typical Romaine, so start off by lacing your normal salad with a handful of kale. Then, as you get used to it, use more kale and less lettuce. Prepare your leafy green bed like so: Separate the leaves from the thick stems and chop. In a large bowl, mix kale with lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Massage for two to three minutes until the kale starts to soften and wilt (for a softer texture). Then toss in your extras—we love a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese, pumpkin seeds or walnuts, and mandarin orange slices—and dress according to taste.20 Fittest Foods >>>
3. Make a Steamy Side Dish
Some studies find that kale offers cholesterol-lowering benefits if it’s steamed before eaten. So first, separate the leaves from the thick stems and chop finely. Put the kale in a steamer basket above a pot of water. Add a garlic clove (finely minced), then bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to steam the kale for about 10 minutes, or until leaves are tender. Plate the kale and dress with a dash of oil, salt and pepper.81 Ways to Be a Better Chef >>>
4. Bake Healthy Kale Chips
These kale chips will help satisfy your junk food craving. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Wash and dry kale. Then, use kitchen shears to cut the leaves into bite size pieces. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Spread the kale out on the parchment paper and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges brown but not burnt.20 Healthy Snacks Under 200 Calories >>>
5. Toss Kale In Your Soup
Kale pairs particularly well with bean-, lentil-, or potato-heavy soups, but it’ll work in just about any healthy hot broth. Just remove it from the stem and slice it up nice and thin, then toss a few handfuls into the pot when the rest of the ingredients are just about fully cooked. Simmer for 10-12 minutes more, or until kale is soft.5 Healthier Game-Day Recipes >>>