Kale is a versatile ingredient and one of the healthiest foods around. Read all about the nutrition and health benefits of this superfood! Plus, learn how to prepare kale and get the recipe for my Crispy Kale Chips, which can be made in just 20 minutes!
There’s been a lot of buzz about kale in the culinary world and it’s because people are discovering that it’s one of the healthiest foods around. Although it’s not a staple in many households, kale has been gaining a lot of popularity because of its numerous health benefits- and it tastes good too!
What is Kale?
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, which also includes veggies like cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
There are many different varieties of kale including curly, Tuscan (also known as lacinato or dinosaur kale), and Redbor. The leaves have an earthy taste and some varieties are slightly bitter. Other varieties such as Tuscan kale have a milder, sweeter flavor.
Kale is at its best in the fall and winter and actually tastes sweeter after it has been exposed to a frost.
Kale is considered a superfood because it’s a great source of vitamins and minerals. It also contains several other compounds that are beneficial for your health.
Kale has very high levels of Vitamins A, C and K-one cup of chopped kale provides well more than your recommended daily allowance of these vitamins. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6, calcium, thiamine, folate, iron and several other nutrients.
Kale is low in calories, fat and cholesterol and is a good source of fiber and protein.
Kale also contains many phytochemicals that have beneficial effects on one's health. Phytochemicals are biologically active compounds found in plants.
One type, the glucosinates, are broken down in the body into organosulphur compounds that have cancer-preventive properties.
Other phytochemicals such as flavonoids and carotenoids (which include beta-carotene and lutein), have anti-inflammatory properties and are also strong antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our cells against oxidative damage and reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. For these reasons, kale is often included in many cancer-prevention diet regimens.
These phytochemicals are also very important for eye health as they protect our eyes from UV light and may help prevent cataracts. Kale is also good for heart health and helps to lower cholesterol, especially when steamed.
How To Enjoy Kale
Kale has a sturdy texture which makes it a good addition to soups and stews. It also can be sautéed, steamed or baked. It can even be eaten raw. In general, the smaller, younger leaves are more tender.
Here are some ideas for how to use kale:
- Sauté kale with some olive oil, shallots, garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes- finish with a squeeze of lemon or balsamic vinegar
- Add it to your stir fries instead of broccoli- it tastes great with Asian flavors like ginger, garlic and soy sauce
- Mix up your salad greens- try using raw kale in your next salad instead of lettuce or spinach
- Blend raw kale with bananas, apples or other fruits and vegetables for a tasty and nutritious smoothie
- Stir chopped kale into soups and stews, lentils, and chili
- Add it to your pasta dishes
- Braise kale with apples and a dash of cider vinegar
- Add sautéed kale to your omelettes, frittatas, pasta or pizza
- Bake kale leaves in the oven for a crispy, healthy snack
Crispy Kale Chips
The next time you’re craving potato chips, try these Crispy Kale Chips instead. These chips are light, nutritious and a cinch to make. Roasting the kale leaves gives them a nice nutty flavor- they’re a great way to get kids and picky eaters to eat their leafy, green veggies!
To make the kale chips, simply tear or cut kale leaves into large pieces and toss them in a bowl with olive oil and salt. Place them on a sheet pan in a single layer and bake in the oven at 325°F for about 10 minutes until they're nice and crispy. That's it!
This recipe simply calls for salt but kale chips are like a black canvas. Sprinkle on whatever spices you like to add different flavors. Garlic powder, chili powder, and lemon pepper are all good options.
Make sure you dry the kale leaves well before tossing them with olive oil and salt. This will help them crisp up nicely in the oven.
How To Store Kale Chips
To store kale chips, first be sure to let them cool down completely. This helps keep them crispy. Then, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
More Tasty Kale Recipes
Crispy Kale Chips
- 1 bunch curly or Tuscan kale (10-12 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Rinse and dry the kale leaves. Make sure the leaves are completely dry so that they crisp up nicely in the oven. Remove the stems and ribs, then cut or tear the leaves into large pieces. Toss the kale pieces in a large bowl with the olive oil and mix with your hands to make sure all of the pieces are coated. Season with salt.
- Transfer the kale to 2 baking sheets, arranging the pieces in a single layer. Bake in the oven until crispy, 15-20 minutes. Watch them carefully during the last few minutes as they can burn quickly. Remove the tray from the oven and let the chips cool before serving. Enjoy!