Confessions of a Kale Convert
The whole foodie world’s been hip to kale craze for several years now, but up until recently the enthusiasm for the much-touted “queen of greens” eluded me.
It’s not that I didn’t believe those who extolled her virtues – kale’s anti-inflammatory properties, powerful antioxidants and impressive vitamin and mineral content (per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk!) make it a standout among greens – it’s just that … well, it tasted a little too “raw” for me. (My kids refer to that taste as “yard waste.”)
Anyway, my guiding principle about food is that anything that’s on my plate must meet two simple criteria. Everything I eat must be:
- Healthy, and
- Delicious. (And I don’t mean just “passable” or even “pretty good”. I mean drop-dead-fabulous, as in “can’t-wait-to-eat-it-super-excited-every-time-it-shows-up-on-my-plate” kind of delicious.)
So up until recently I hadn’t been impressed enough by kale’s taste to put it on my well-guarded plate.
So what’s my confession about kale? I learned to LOVE it!
And how was I converted??? I started cooking it!
Really, it’s just that simple.
Up until recently I had been trying to eat it raw, for example, as a salad green. If that works for you then by all means keep eating it, but for me the taste was off-putting. Raw kale is bitter and it takes a fair bit of chewing to break it down. It just wasn’t working for me.
Then a friend introduced me to roasting it. HA! So easy, and I absolutely loved the taste! Soon I started experimenting with sautéing it and putting it in soups. (If you haven’t tried my Chorizo Stew with Kale yet what are you waiting for???) Last night I sautéed it in EVOO, sprinkled it with crushed red pepper flakes and then dropped two eggs into it, cooking them sunny-side up. Super fast, super easy, super delish dinner!
When cooked, kale becomes mellower. Less pungent, more savory. Unlike most greens it holds up extremely well to cooking, so it can easily be added to nearly any dish for a nutritional boost.
Now that I’m hooked on the stuff I put it in almost everything that isn’t nailed down.
Here are my top kale convert tips:
- Make it easy on yourself; buy organic, in pre-washed bags where the leaves have already been stripped of their tough stems. Saves tons of time.
- Buy it frozen for adding to smoothies. Adding kale to protein drinks is a quick and easy way to up the nutritional ante, but it definitely blends easier and tastes better is you use frozen greens.
- Kale comes in many forms: flat leaf, curly, and even different colors. They all taste slightly different, so try them all!
- Make pesto out of it and put it on spiralized zucchini “noodles”. You’ll own the “damn-I’m-eating-healthy!” moral high ground for the rest of the day.
- Try store-bought kale chips cooked in EVOO and sprinkled with sea salt as an alternative to chips or crackers. Or make your own; it’s so easy!
It’s important to mention that we should vary our greens. It’s easy to go overboard on one type of green – especially if you love it! But different greens bring different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to the table (and may have concentrations of certain contaminants), so it’s best to eat a variety of greens. Simple solution: enjoy kale today, but use spinach in your smoothie tomorrow and romaine in your dinner salad the next night.
Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, so finding ways that I could get on the kale bandwagon has me saying “Kale yeah!”