A nice surprise is one of life’s little pleasures, that startling little epiphany that has you reassessing your tired old ways and preconceived ideas. As a gardener venturing ever closer to the city limits of Geezer town, I have had to ask myself how did I go so long without fully and wholeheartedly embracing brother Kale. Well, now we are connected at the hip, the garden, the plate and the heart. (I had to give chard the bad news; I’m just not that into you.)
Vashon Farmers Market: Lacinato, also known as Italian or Dinosaur Kale, and Red Russian on display
Kale is truly one of THE most awesome vegetables you can grow and eat. While lettuce bolts, chard offends my taste buds, broccoli is short-lived, cabbage takes patience and romaine is gone in one salad, Kale (in my book) beats them all for taste, versatility, growing, longevity and health benefits. Kale oh Kale, how do I love thee, let me count the ways:
In the Garden
- Easy plant to grow
- Many wonderful varieties
- Red Russian
- Blue Curled
- Harvest leaves all year (in cooler climates)
- Very cold tolerant
- Doesn’t need full sun
- Remarkably drought tolerant
- Related links: Photo Guide to Different Varieties, Territorial Seed descriptions
In the Kitchen
- Very versatile vegetable
- Use in soups, sauteed, steamed, veggie pasta dishes, fresh in salads, topped on pizzas and baked as chips
- Flavor is clean and refreshing (to my taste buds)
- Keeps well in the fridge
- Tender enough for salads, sturdy enough for a stir-fry
- Easy to prepare
- Rated as one of the sweetest greens
- Related Links: Top 10 Ways to Enjoy, Recipes for Health, 101 Cookbooks recipes
In the Body (source WebMD)
- Nutritional Powerhouse: One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
- Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
- Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
- Fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
- Related Links: Superfood, What’s New and Beneficial
I buy my starts at the Vashon Farmers Market from Michelle at Pacific Potager. She turned me so many varieties, and I’ve never looked back or planted chard or collard greens again. Based on my kale consumption alone, meeting Michelle likely added several years to my life. Thank you Michelle. Kale, it’s good and good for you. Who would have thunk?