Thursday, July 04, 2013

Kudos to Kale

Kale, kale and more kale.  It's an inside joke amongst CSA folk that incites knowing laughter, regardless of who they get their veggie box from.   Sometimes, whilst waiting for the first signs of red and orange in our boxes, we can get a little overwhelmed with all the green goodness. Kale, with its curly green or purple leaves tends to stand out as the mystery vegetable - the one that no one seems quite sure what to do with. For some, the weeks of kale can be a bit daunting (I will note that we are in our second CSA week and kale was in the grab box only, so I may be exaggerating a bit here in terms of the abundance of kale in our boxes),  but isn't that the beauty of a CSA too? An opportunity to flex your kitchen skills and try all sorts of new dishes. This is what seasonal eating is all about!

For all the mystery that shrouds kale (let's face it, no one's Mom was making sandwiches with kale back in the day and Popeye was eating canned spinach, not kale chips), the one thing that everyone seems to know is that kale is a super food. In a classroom full of greens that would get straight As for nutrient content, kale would get A+s.   It's really in a class of its own!

OK, but what makes it a super food? What amazing powers will be bestowed upon my body if I treat it to kale on a regular basis?  Why should I bother with it?

I think of vegetables in the same way some people think about stocks and bonds - they are worth investing in, but you want to do your research first and get to know what it is you're 'investing' in. While I'd have to say that ANY organic vegetable is a wise investment for your current and future health, not to mention your taste buds, I'm the kind of person that wants to know exactly why I should be investing in kale.  I am also the kind of person that wants the nutshell version, not a long explanation that includes citations and reference to various vitamins, minerals and other abstract words. So, for those that are like me, here's  the low down on kale.

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  • Helps Prevent Cancer - Kale has the broadest range of antioxidants amongst the Brassica family of vegetables, which are generally known for their cancer-fighting abilities. A diet rich in antioxidants is key to reducing the damage done to cells by free radicals.  
  • Guards Against Heart Disease - Kale has been shown to help lower cholestrol and is rich in vitamin K, which is generally recognized as a heart-healthy nutrient.
  • Full of Fiber - Regular poos help with detoxification of your body, which means fewer toxins get to stick around inside you wreaking havoc. 
  • May Help Protect Against Estrogen-Dominant diseases -  Kale contains a nutrient that may affect the way estrogen is metabolized by the body. This is especially important for those concerned about developing diseases such as breast cancer, fibroids, and endometriosis.
  • People with Underactive Thyroid/Hypothryoid Should Eat with Caution -  Raw Brassica family vegetables, including kale, broccoli, bok choy and Brussels sprouts, contain goitrogens which may interfere with your thyroid's ability to use iodine, thus suppressing its ability to regulate your body's metabolism and perform other important body functions.  The good news is that the goitrogens are released when kale is steamed or cooked, so you can still get a lot of the good stuff from kale, while avoiding the potential negative impacts.  Those with a normal functioning thyroid should not be concerned about eating Brassica vegetable in reasonable quantities, although it is probably wise not to overdo consumption of raw kale.
  • Too much raw kale can be rough on the digestion - Unless you're juicing it every day, you're probably not going to eat too much raw kale, but if you are eating it a lot and notice that you are experiencing bloating, gas or other digestive issues you might want to take a break from the raw kale to see if your symptoms subside.   Cooked kale is just fine, eat as much as you desire!

So there you have it folks. Multiple reasons to get creative with kale and show it mucho love for the gift of health it offers with every bite!

For ideas on how to prepare kale, check out the following recipes:

Kale Smoothies (careful not to have too many!)

Superfood Burger with Sweet Potato, Walnuts and Kale

Kale Chips

Kale Strawberry Avocado Salad 

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