It might not fit the image of the caveman’s diet of giant racks of ribs, but even Ol’ Scratch here knows how important leafy greens are for a healthy bod. Leafy greens pack a whole lot of nutrients into one servin’. Important nutrients you can find in greens include magnesium (an essential mineral that helps keep your body and mind feeling alert, relaxed, and functioning properly), iron, vitamin C, and cancer-preventing phytonutrients. Not only that but greens like spinach, kale, and bok choy give your body a healthy dose of calcium. The benefits of leafy greens don’t stop at vitamins and minerals; they can also help you detox. Greens like kale, spinach, and chicory contain high levels of chlorophyll, which help your body detox and alkalize. Cabbage and other veggies like broccoli, kale, and turnips help detox your body by promoting better liver function.
Now you might notice one veggie coming up again and again, kale. Kale is what you might call a “superfood”. It might look like the lettuce in yer salad, but it’s a lot more awesome. It has much more vitamins A and C, calcium and phytonutrients than its lettuce cousins. “Kale is off the charts when it comes to nutrients,” says Ruth Frechman, RD, a Burbank-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “It’s 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.”
Men’s Fitness’s Lisa Freedman writes, “Kale is high in carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been proven to prevent macular degeneration. “When I think of kale, I really think of your eyes.” Frechman says. It also has tons of fiber—a cup of kale packs 90 mg of fiber while a cup of spinach only has 30 mg. In addition, kale delivers Vitamin B6, which helps maintain healthy nervous and immune systems, as well as iron and calcium. … “Kale is getting popular in small circles but I really recommend that more people find a way to add it to their diets,” Frechman suggests.”
For those new to this food, it might be a bit imtimidatin’. But not to worry Scratch is here to help you. This green has a mild cabbagey-taste and just a hint of bitterness. There are several varities you may find at yer grocery story that are all different in taste and look. After you buy it, keep the kale in the coldest part of yer fridge and wrap it loosely in plastic.
How to Cook Kale:
Freedman suggests, “Before cooking, rinse kale leaves under cold water, cut the leaves from the stem and cut into half-inch pieces or smaller. Because of high amounts of vitamin K, people taking blood thinners should not eat kale.”
A kale smoothie is a great way to try kale for the first time. Blend two bananas, a handful of kale leaves, 1/2 cup of water and two ice cubes. You can play with the ingredients, adding more or less of each, as you figure out what you like best. Add honey for more sweetness.
Some studies find that kale offers cholesterol-lowering benefits if it’s steamed before eaten. 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), bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to steam the kale for about 10 minutes or until the leaves are tender. Plate the kale and dress with a dash of oil, salt and pepper.
A Great Potato Chip Alternative*
Greasy—and salty—potato chips are bad for you but these kale chips are good for you and will help satisfy your junk food craving. Preheat an oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Wash and dry Tuscan kale. Tuscan kale is also known as dinosaur or dino kale. Then, use kitchen shears to cut the leaves into bite size pieces. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Spread the kale out on the parchment paper or a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the edges brown but are not burnt. Let them cool on paper towels or a wire rack.
Here’s a recipe for “cheesy” vegan kale chips
To get the most health benefits from kale, let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration.
If you cannot find Tuscan kale at your grocer, it’s OK to substitute the recipe with another type of kale. Just make sure you remove the leaves from the tough parts of the kale. Don’t discard the stem and ribs though — use them to make a veggie broth!
There are lots of great recipes out there for ways of incorporatin’ kale into yer diet from kale pesto pasta to sausage and capellini kale soup. Start searchin’ Rockheads!
If you don’t want to make your own, check out these prepacked versions of kale chips recommended by Fitsugar.com:
Kaia Kale Chips, Sea Salt & Vinegar
Kaia foods, the maker of organic granola, fruit leather, and tasty seed mixes, now offers kale chips in a variety of mouthwatering flavors, like this sea salt & vinegar flavor ($5).
These chips are sprouted, mixed, and dehydrated in low temperatures to keep them as “raw” as possible. Other ingredients include sesame seeds, sprouted sunflower seeds, apple cider vinegar, palm sugar, lemon juice, and sea salt.
Alive & Radiant Kale Krunch, Southwest Ranch
Alive & Radiant kale chips($7) come in a number of flavors and are light and crunchy! Delicately flavored, each bag uses organic ingredients like cashews, miso, lemon juice, and garlic, while still remaining a certified raw product. So long potato chips!
Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips, Mango Habanero
You’ll never look at kale the same after trying Rhythm Superfoods prepacked kale chips concoctions! These mango habanero kale chips ($7) are anything but boring, and they get their flavor from an assortment of healthy ingredients like organic kale, organic mango, organic carrot, organic cashew, organic onion, and organic ginger — just to name a few!
*Recipe from Men’s Fitness