Food Challenge: Kale

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Food Challenge: KaleMeet your new best friend this winter: Kale.  You’ve probably heard of kale before, and maybe it looks slightly familiar (yes, it was the garnish underneath the seafood you ordered last week!).  But besides being a strange outdoor decorating phenomenon along the East Coast and a garnish at the seafood counter, this hearty winter green has taken the food scene by storm due to its versatility, nutritional prowess, and variations.  Yes, you’ll even find your new best friend in the commissary—so no excuses for you two not to meet.

Kale has its roots in Russia and is able to withstand very low temperatures, making it a great winter green.  Its dark, leafy color is indicative of its potent antioxidants and high iron content.  But that’s not all.  Your new best friend is about get even better. According to the USDA, in one cup of chopped kale you receive 134% of your daily recommended value of Vitamin C (move over, OJ), 5% iron, 10% Vitamin B-6, 10% calcium, 7% magnesium, 3 grams of protein, and just 33 little calories.  Not bad for a cute little leaf.  See the recipes below for a way to invite kale to breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert.

How to prepare Kale

Dan’s Kale Breakfast Smoothie
Dan’s Kale Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 4 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1-2 tablespoons nut butter (try raw cashew butter for added minerals)
  • 2 cups kale
       

Place all ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.  Serve in your favorite tall glass with a straw.  Get ready for a great start to the day.

 Winter Salad 
Winter Salad

Ingredients:

  • 5 large kale leaves, rinsed, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • ½ green apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 beet, scrubbed and shredded
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼-1/3 cup goddess dressing (see below for recipe)
       

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until coated in dressing.  The best part about this salad is that you can make it your own.  Substitute any of the produce for whatever’s in the fridge (thinly sliced red cabbage makes a great, crunchy addition to this salad!).

Goddess Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup tahini
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or substitute low-sodium soy sauce)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Juice from 1 small lemon
       

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend for one minute.  Scrape down sides, then blend for another minute or until smooth and creamy.  Use on your winter salad, or as a dressing for raw veggies.

kale creamed
Creamed Kale

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb kale, rinsed, drained, de-stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons miso
  • juice from ½ lemon
       

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until translucent and fragrant, about five minutes. 

While onions and garlic are cooking, blend cashews and water in a high-powered blender on high until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.  When finished, add to sauté pan along with miso and lemon juice.  Mix well, then add kale.  Mix again so that kale is covered in sauce.  Cover sauté pan and allow kale to wilt, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Tips: Miso is a great flavor alternative to salt and holds great “good gut” benefits as a fermented food.  It will keep forever in your fridge, and in most health foods stores you’ll find a variety of miso—try chickpea for a gluten-free version or barley if you’re trying to avoid soy.

Kale Cupcakes
Kale Cupcakes

Tip:  mince your kale as small as possible using a very good knife to help “lose” the kale in the batter.  Who knew dessert could be so good for you?