Kale is a nutrient rich powerhouse, and may be one of the healthiest vegetables we could be eating. It belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family (along with broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts). At only 33 calories per cup, kale provides over 130% of recommended vitamin C, 205% of recommended vitamin A, 680% of recommended vitamin K, and 9% of recommended calcium. It is also a good source of potassium, iron, and phosphorus.
Kale contains carotenoid and flavonoid antioxidants helping to prevent oxidative stress, inflammation, and cancer. The fiber content of kale can also help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
If you are like many people who find kale to be a bit tough, baby kale is a great option. Harvested prior to the plant reaching full maturity, baby kale has a mild and more tender leaf while providing nearly the same nutrients as the adult version.
Looking for ways to eat kale? Kale doesn’t need to be cooked and can be enjoyed in a salad by slicing it into thin ribbons. Its bitter taste pairs well with tart flavors such as fresh lemon. Kale can easily be added into smoothies where the flavor can be blended with sweet strawberries or banana.
Kale’s sturdy texture holds up well in soups and pasta, making it a better option over spinach which can fall apart easily. Sautéing kale with olive oil and garlic makes for a great side dish or topping on your homemade pizza. Kale chips baked in the oven also makes for a tasty snack that is much healthier than potato chips. For a fresh spring salad try the delicious recipe below.
Baby Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Crispy Chickpeas
240 calories per serving
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
1 minced garlic clove
Ground black pepper
5 oz bag baby kale
2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tbs olive oil and some pepper. Roast 10-12 minutes, stirring once until chickpeas are crispy. Let cool.
In a bowl, combine lemon juice, 2 tbs olive oil, garlic, and pepper. Add the kale and toss until evenly coated. Arrange on plates and top with cheese and roasted chickpeas. Enjoy!