From the cruciferous vegetable family (home to foods like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts), kale has enjoyed a surge in popularity in the past few years. Evidence suggests this superfood wards off cancer, helps regulate blood cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of heart disease, and promotes eye health. So eat kale.
The following list gives you ten ways to incorporate kale into your diet:
Eat it raw. Eating kale raw is a good way to get all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber kale has to offer.
Eating it raw can be difficult because of how fibrous the vegetable is and because of its slightly bitter taste. A great way to overcome these challenges is to slice it finely and add it to salads that include sweet elements like raisins or apples to offset the kale’s natural bitterness.
Sauté it. Sautéing kale is a good way to break down the hearty fiber. Sauté the kale for about a minute in olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and serve it with lean meats, like chicken breast or turkey.
Use it as a substitute for spinach. Any dish you can make with spinach, like dips or quiches, you can just as easily make with kale. To break the texture down a bit, wilt the kale very briefly — place it for 10 seconds or so in a pan — but be careful not to cook it too long because doing so cooks out all the nutrients.
Cooking vegetables too long actually breaks down the nutrients in the food. This doesn’t matter if you’re making soup, because the vegetables leak their nutrients into the broth, which you eat anyway. But in canned food, a part of the vitamin content (vitamins B and C, specifically) actually ends up in the water that most people drain off before heating and serving.
Make kale chips. Heat olive oil on medium high for 3 to 4 minutes. Chop the kale into 2-x-2-inch pieces. When the oil is hot enough (it sizzles when you place a drop of water in it), place the chopped kale in the oil and cook until slightly crisp. Transfer the chips from the pan to a paper towel and salt to taste. Enjoy.
Add it to soup. Add kale to any vegetable, bean-based, or sausage-based soups. As it wilts in the broth, the kale’s nutrient content infuses the whole pot.
Make kale smoothies. Sounds odd, but a kale smoothie is delicious and makes for a fantastic snack or breakfast substitute. Place some red berries (like raspberries or strawberries), blueberries, orange juice, a medium-size apple, and a small carrot into your blender. Add a leaf or so of kale and some ice to other ingredients. Then blend it up and enjoy.
Put it on pizza. Wilted kale makes for a great topping on any pizza, whether you’ve ordered it in or made it yourself.
Mix the kale with some bacon and mushrooms, and you’re on your way to making a truly delicious dinner.
Juice it. Whether you drink it on its own or as an ingredient of some other drink, kale juice is great for you .
On its own, juiced kale has a strong flavor and smell that takes some getting used to. Try adding a shot or two of kale juice to other juiced fruits and vegetables to help mask the strong flavor.
Mix it with pasta. Thinly slice the kale and mix it with any drained, cooked pasta — the heat and moisture from the drained pasta will wilt the kale slightly — and serve the dish with your favorite marinara sauce. Fantastico!
Freeze it. A good way to get kale into your diet without tasting it is to freeze it. Place the kale in a clear food storage bag and, after it’s frozen, crush it in the bag. Then sprinkle the frozen kale crumble on top of pretty much whatever you want — mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, ice cream, and so on. You won’t taste it, but you will get all the nutrients.
Frozen kale is convenient. It will keep for months and is a great way to incorporate kale in a number of foods you wouldn’t otherwise add it to! Just make sure you keep it frozen because the kale becomes a mushy mess if you let it thaw.