Kale may be the current star of the Superfoods, but it wasn’t always that way. Just a decade it ago, it was relegated to decorating the borders of salad bars.
Its recent fame is well deserved because it carries higher levels of nutrients and phytonutrients than most other vegetables.
COOK’S NOTES: Kale is an esteemed member of the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, watercress, bok choy, collards, turnip and mustard greens. The leaves of baby kale are relatively soft and cook easily, but the large leaves of older kale plants have tough fibrous stems that must be removed. Kale leaves contain the enzyme “myrosinase”, which is released when it’s chopped or chewed. Myrosinase interacts with the sulfur-containing “glucosinolates” to form a new compound, isothiocyanate, which gives kale its bitter, pungent taste. To minimize that taste and bring out its pleasant nutty quality requires breaking down myrosinase through blanching, massaging
Whether shredded into salad, fried in a breakfast hash or sautéed with mushrooms, you’ll find a way to get a crush on this green!
KEY PHYTONUTRIENTS: The cruciferous veggies are known for their unique phytonutrients, called isothiocyanates (like sulforaphane and indole-3 carbinol), which improve detoxification of estrogen and appear to reduce the risk of several types of cancer (breast, prostate, colon and lung). Even the American Cancer Society has urged us to include cruciferous vegetables in our diet to reduce our risk of cancer. Kale is also loaded with fiber and rich in carotenes, vitamins B6, C and K, as well as iron, calcium and manganese. Like other greens, it is rich in both chlorophyll and folic acid.
THE DOCTOR’S NOTE OF CAUTION: Kale is part of a group of foods called “goiterogens”. Kale doesn’t actually make the thyroid swell to point of a goiter, but may slightly inhibit thyroid function if over-consumed in the absence of sufficient iodine. Kale also appears to soak up the element thallium, which may play a role in some cases of fatigue and hair loss. Because kale contains oxalic acid, it can contribute to the formation of kidney stones when over-consumed. So instead of going overboard and eating it three meals a day (as I know some people do), rotate kale with other members of the Brassica family and other leafy greens (like Swiss chard) to retain its health benefits without the drawbacks.
- Breakfast Hash
- Sautéed Winter Greens with Mushrooms
- Kale salad with dried cherries, toasted slivered almonds and lemon shallot vinaigrette
- Kale Chips