A Member of the Cabbage Family, Kale is The Powerhouse Vegetable.
Kale
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If you are unfamiliar with Kale, then you are missing out! Kale is one of the most nutritional, oldest and versatile vegetables, known to man! Kale, originated in Turkey and then later spreading to the southern Mediterranean regions around the year 600 B.C. It was then that Kale became popular with the Greeks and Romans who began growing it over 2,000 years ago. Kale has survived for so long because it is easy to grow, easy to store, and the Kale plant can survive, if the plant is at least a month old, temperatures of 28° F (-2° C). In fact, Kale actually grows best in the fall and winter months, when a quick frost or snowfall instills a sweeter flavor in the leaves of the plant. Of course, this means that Kale can be grown year round almost anywhere on the planet; making Kale a great food source for colder climates. This fact, combined with the incredible nutritional values and the culinary versatility of Kale, have earned it the nickname of The Powerhouse Vegetable.

Season

Kale actually grows best in the fall and winter months, when a snap frost or snowfall can infuse a sweeter flavor in the leaves of the plant but Kale can actually be grown year round almost anywhere on Earth. This means that Kale is available year round in most stores.

Availability

Kale is available year round.

Cultivation

Kale is the easiest vegetable to grow, although admittedly it does not fare well in warm southern climates where the higher temperatures give it a bitter taste. Among farmers, Kale is referred to as “The Hungry Gap” because it grows well throughout the winter, when more delicate collard plants fail. For the home gardener, it is easiest to purchase young plants from a local nursery, rather than grow kale from seeds. After the kale is planted, there is really nothing else to do besides watch for pests that might eat or harm the plants. Kale is best when planted in the fall, spring, or winter.

Kale is harvested like lettuce. Although with Kale, you can cut the entire plant down when it matures (in 50-70 days) or simply remove the outer leaves as they mature and let the plant keep producing. The tender leaves in the center can also be removed without harming the plant. These leaves are best used in salads.

Varieties

There are thousands of varieties of Kale, including the ornamental cabbages found in flower gardens. The main way that kale is classified is by leaf type. This includes Plain Leaved, Curly Leaved, Leaf and Spear, Rape Kale, and Covelo Nero (black cabbage).

Purchasing

If you don’t want to grow your own Kale, it is just as easy to purchase it from the local grocery store. Buy Kale in small bunches and look for solid stems and deeply colored, fresh leaves.

Avoid purchasing bunches of Kale that are wilted or yellowing, unless you are going to cook them right away.  As well, look in the canned foods section of your store. There are now many gourmet food companies that sell Kale in cans that is already cooked and seasoned. There are even baby food companies that sell jars of Kale alongside its other food products.

Storage

Store unwashed Kale in the coldest part of your refrigerator, wrapped in a paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag. Remember, Kale only keeps for 3-5 days refrigerated before it starts to become Bitter. However, Kale freezes well (8-12 months raw), and freezing freshly cooked kale actually enhances its flavor. So if you don’t think you can use all of the Kale you have purchased, simply boil it with seasonings and freeze it for later use.

Culinary Uses

For years chefs everywhere have sold Kale short as just being a nice Garnish for other dishes. However, Kale is an extremely versatile vegetable and generally speaking, Kale can be served as a typical vegetable side dish, combined with other greens in a Tossed Salad, put into Soups and Stews, juiced along with other fruits and vegetables, baked into chips, and can be chopped up finely to be put into stir fries, Rice or Couscous as a flavoring.

Portion Size

Allow 2-4 oz of Kale per person.

Nutritional Value USDA
KALE,RAW
Amount Per 100g
Calories 49
%Daily Value*
 
0%
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
1%
Sodium 38mg
10%
Potassium 491mg
2%
Total Carbohydrate 8g
12%
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 2g
Protein 4g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Nutrition

When it comes to nutritional value, Kale either outranks or matches SpinachCauliflowerBroccoliCollard Greens, and even Brussels Sprouts in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Kale is a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, fiber, calcium, Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s, as well as minerals like potassium, iron, phosphorous, and copper. Also, like most other greens, Kale is a good source of indole-3-carbinole, a chemical which appears to block the growth of cancer cells – especially when combined with Garlic.  Kale has also been proven to help with vision and reduce heart problems.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes