As one of the most prominent leafy vegetables in Europe, kale is a wondrous raw food with a plethora of redeeming qualities. Featured in many famous dishes from Africa, Ireland, Asia, the Netherlands, Brazil, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Montenegro and Portugal kale is truly a global provider. Despite its amazing health benefits and international allure kale still remains largely under the radar in America. It is so popular in Germany, social clubs and celebrations have evolved around the vegetable but in America you rarely see kale used at restaurants or even in home cooked meals. Maybe it is the temptations of fast food, meat, frying and large portions that have kept kale largely undiscovered in the United States but as health and diet agendas hopefully so too will the uses of kale. As a super raw food that fairly inexpensive and easy to source there is no reason why we all should not be cooking with this leafy friend more often. Mostly promoted and supported by vegan, vegetarian and raw food enthusiasts everyone would be better served by including more kale in their daily eating routines. Very easy to cook with and boasting a voracious variety of uses it should not be difficult for anyone to increase their kale intake. After we learn a little more about kale and review its many health benefits I am sure there will be a clamor at the supermarkets to buy some.
Kale is in the cabbage family and comes in green or purple headless leaves. Other color variations may consist of whites, yellows, blues and reds. The vegetable is strong in flavor and can become even more pronounced after being frozen or exposed to frost. The plant also grows very well in wintry and harsh climates making it very versatile as far as cultivation is concerned. Some close brothers to kale are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, rapini, collard greens and brussels sprouts. Kale is viewed as a superfood with many healing qualities. In addition to its nutritional values kale is also often used for garnish and decoration. Most ornamental cabbage you see in gardens is from the kale family. Kale cultivars and looseleaf type classifications include curly leaved (Scots Kale Lutes), plain leaved, rape Kale lutes, leaf and spear (a cross between curly leaved and plain leaved Kale Lutes) and cavolo nero (also known as Tuscan Kale Lutes and dinosaur Kale Lutes). Leaf form and texture are the identifying marks of different Kales and they can range from curled and wrinkled leaves (Scots) to flat with finely divided edges (Siberian or Russian). One cool characteristic of growing kale is that you can harvest the outer leaves as you need them without harming the plant or the future growth of more inner leaves. Kale is very simple to grow and is a great addition to any vegetable patch. It is of interesting to note that the tender and young kale is best for salads while the mature leaves are best for cooking. Speaking of food preparation lets take a look at some of the reasons why we should include this raw food in our meals and dishes.
Boiling Kale is not the recommended but steaming, micro-waving, stir frying and eating it raw are all highly encouraged. Kale is a cherished raw food because it is rich in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, glucosinolates, sulforaphane, vitamin E, vitamin A, iron, manganese, calcium, potassium and manganese. It is these facets of kale that are known to prevent and fight against such medical terrors as cancer, cataracts, emphysema and rheumatoid arthritis. A traditional serving size of kale (1 cup) only contains 40 – 60 calories making it a great weight loss aid. Containing a plethora of enriching antioxidant properties, compounds, minerals and nutrients the vegetable is also successful in preventing colds, improving skin tone and augmenting energy levels. Even though it helps the liver, the colon and other vital organs one special circumstance it does not aid in is those with thyroid issues. Containing goitrogen, a naturally-occurring substance in kale and if too much is consumed kale can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland or cause concern for those with thyroid problems. Regardless of this one caveat kale is still a food that must be consumed more often by more people.
If you care about your health, the environment and the raw food industry you should have no problem jumping on the kale bandwagon. Kale recipes are rarely complicated and the food is so flexible it can be used in smoothies, soups, salads and even main dishes. Although kale is often cooked and combined with meat we highly encourage its use only in a raw food setting. By eating kale raw we maximize its potential while helping the world as well as ourselves. A raw food diet is a great way to take care of the planet while also nurturing your body and kale is a perfect part of that plan. There are many awesome raw food cookbooks on the market that can show you some great kale recipes. The next time you are thinking of eating something raw and delicious hopefully kale will cross your mind and tummy. Here is even a great kale smoothie and soup recipe to get you started on your quest for kale indulgence. You can also check out my raw food cookbooks for more great cooking ideas.
A couple of Kale Recipes to get you on your way to great health!
KALE SMOOTHIE (blend ingredients well):
2 cups filtered water
3 yellow mangoes
1 cup of raspberries
1 cup of red grapes
6 to 8 kale leafs
A few mint leafs
KALE SOUP (Blend all the ingredients with warm water to get desired consistency):
1 Bunch of Kale leaves
1/4 Lemon peeled
1 Roma Tomato
2 cloves Garlic
2 cups filtered water (lukewarm)
A sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Salt, pepper and onion powder to taste