Its often hard to find kale in supermarkets so I was half tempted not to put it in but most good fruit and vegetable shops and farmers markets sell kale at this time of year. The reason I decided to include it is we are all feeling a bit 'post Christmas' at the moment and kale offers the most nutrition for fewer calories than most veggies so is up there in terms of healthy eating!!!
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica or cruciferous family a group of vegetables including cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli (remember that newsletter!!!!). These vegetables are gaining widespread attention due to their health promoting, sulfur-containing phytonutrients. In terms of health, kale is a huge source of Vitamin K, and an excellent source of Vitamin A, C and Manganese. Also, like most vegetables, it is a good source of fibre.
In terms of phytonutrients (powerful antioxidants) there are 2 main areas of interest. Firstly, the sulfur containing phytonutrients have been linked to boosting the livers detox pathways thus neutralising potentially carcinogenic substances and thus can be cancer protective. Secondly, kale is one of the most concentrated forms of lutein which is linked to reduced risk of cataracts.
You can get several varieties of kale but I've seen mostly curly kale or purple kale here. When selecting kale, chose leaves that are firm, bright and deeply coloured leaves, along with moist hardy stems. The smaller leaves have slightly milder, sweeter flavour than the larger leaves.
Store kale in the fridge and wrap tightly in a plastic bag. Do not wash before putting it into fridge - only upon use.
To prepare, chop as finely as possible. Leave on the chopping board for 5-10 mins before heating to allow the 'myrosinase' in the leaf to activate the nutrients! If you find any hard or thick steams, it may be easier to discard. Otherwise eat the stems with the leaf.
When cooking kale, do not overcook (generally found when colour changes significantly or starts to smell eggy). I find chopping finely and steaming for 5 mins works best. You can also saute on a medium heat in a saucepan for around 5 minutes in a drop of water. If adding it to a dish, add in the last few minutes of the cooking process.
Don't forget you can have kale raw - chopped finely in a salad, whizzed up to make a kale pesto or add to a fruit smoothie to make it a super smoothie! Try to buy organic if possible.
Try to eat 3-5 portions a week of these super vegetables to enhance your healthy eating plan.