Tuesday, March 3, 2009

PROSE rather than an ODE to KALE

Like any palate-confused child, I pushed lots of veggies around the plates of food it was my privilege to be served. In many realms it often takes me just short of ever to figure out and then come close to doing what is actually good for me, but this isn’t about me, this is about KALE.

Kale, a highly nutritious vegetable, is said to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. If I would eat 3.5 ounces steamed I would get 30 calories, less than 6 carbs, only 1.25 grams of sugar plus 2 grams of dietary fiber. I’d have eaten 76% of my adult daily need of beta carotene. I’d get vitamin K, lots of vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, B vitamins, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Zinc. To be sure I've not left something out, you can go to the USDA Nutrient database to check up on kale or that chocolate bar you are thinking of eating.

The kind of kale I am currently growing, Lacinto or Dinosaur Kale, has very crinkly leaves. I have also successfully grown the Russian purple kale, but I think Dinosaur is my favorite. The leaves seem impervious, clean and strong. I want in my cells what they have going for them. Kale, like Broccoli, contains sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties, particularly when chopped. (Warning: I have read that because of its high vitamin K content, it isn’t good for folks who have to take anti-coagulants such as warfarin as it could raise the effective dose of the drug.)

Kale is easy to grow and it seems to resist pests. While I sometimes have to wash away a few aphids, it doesn’t collect the bugs or blights that go after many other leafy greens. Having lived most of my life in a somewhat warmer inland clime, it’s wonderful to find veggies that thrive on the coast. I’ve read that Kale doesn’t seem too picky about the soil either. Mine is growing in enriched composted soil in a gopher- proof raised bed, but I bet you could raise good kale in a window box in your city apartment. If your summer is too hot or your winter too cold, think spring and fall plantings. Imagine standing at the grocery store, looking at all the expensive produce, wondering what you’ll cook for dinner and then remembering. “I’ve got Kale.”

I can tell you what I do with kale in my kitchen and I’m sure kale recipes abound on the world- wide- web, but now that you have finally come to visit my blog, I don’t want to link you right out of here. I don’t always write about kale,other veggies, or even bread, for “man does not live by bread alone.” I hope you’ll visit and read some of my other posts; enjoy the photos and stay for a sunset on the Pacific Ocean. Anyway, I chop up kale leaves and put it in my soups. I also like to sauté it with red onions. You can steam it and serve it solo with butter or salad dressing. You can juice it with other veggies such as carrots and drink it. Cooked is better than raw for folks who worry about low thryoid, though. You can chop it up in your salad, or you can add it to an omelet. If you need to hide vegetable matter from people you cook for, put it in the chili pot, or add it to the pasta sauce, they won't even know it is in there.
You’ll often see kale leaves used as décor in various restaurant presentations. I remember some standard D I N E R type of dinner out one night where I suddenly realized that the kale leaf was possibly the most nutritious item on the entire plate. Not knowing if that little green frond packed with vital stuff had been washed in the restaurant kitchen, I dunked it in the water glass I had already decided was not tasty enough to drink and ate the leaf. As my husband read somewhere, one of those great quotes attributed only to anon, "You’re only young once but you can be immature your whole life. " So I'll work on the table etiquette, but at least I (am trying to) eat my vegetables!


Hill upon Hill said...

I make juice every day with kale in it.

Rosannah said...

ha super post. love the pics and all the humor. also - i really like the red russian kale. also, i am tickled to have finally found some kale here in germany. though it is flabby-looking and over priced, i still buy it. just ate some today, i did. my regular method is to throw it in my rice pot before the rice is done. i also add raisins and spices at this time and then it's almost like stuffed chard leaves... well - slightly reminiscent anyway.