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  • Carol Aranos

Kale-icious – The Three R’s of Kale

Benefits of Kale with Recipes from Essential Joy Wellness in Central PA

My first attempt to incorporate kale into my diet was a disaster – one I hope to help you avoid. I grabbed curly kale, added cut up veggies for a delicious salad and was met with bitterness. All I could think is, “I don’t care how great this is for me – it tastes terrible.”

After a reset, my next attempt was a little less dramatic and step by step my family eats kale every week. I wanted to share some tips to get you started on your journey to love kale.

Research - Any quick web search will return an inexhaustible list of articles on kale and why it is considered a superfood. It’s a dark green leafy vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family. It has been available for decades and is growing in popularity for good reason – it is a nutritional powerhouse.

Let’s talk about some of the key benefits and what it really means for you and your health.

One cup of kale contains only 33 calories but packs a whopping 3 grams of protein. Substituting kale as a protein in lieu of an animal-based protein is a great way to help lower your dietary fat intake and cholesterol. It is a vitamin and mineral dynamo, delivering more than 100% of your day’s recommended daily intake of Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and K. Finally, it’s high concentrations of insoluble fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids support gut and brain health respectively.

What does all of this mean? Eating kale is an excellent way to add a significant source of nutrition to your current diet to improve your overall health. For more information, learn more here.

Recognize – There are many varieties of kale and each has a different taste and texture. Finding kale in your market might be easy but how do you know which to buy? My grocery store carries two of the most popular, curly and lacinato, but I am going to share a third, which is red Russian.

· Curly kale – One of the most common forms of kale is dark green and can easily be found in your local market. It is best when used in smoothies, sauteed, or in soups. You can use it in salads if you soften it, which I will share how later in this section.

· Lacinato kale – You may see it labeled as Tuscan kale, or Cavolo Nero. It is my personal favorite. My hands go right for these gorgeous bluish-green stems. It is best used in soups, casseroles and slow cooking in the crockpot.

· Red Russian kale – Reddish in color with an oakleaf shape. This variety is lighter and sweeter and is perfectly suited for a salad when mixed with other greens. Don’t hesitate to sauté it with some olive oil and garlic.

Recipes – The third and most fun of the R’s. As I began experimenting with kale, I focused on finding recipes that were simple to make and easy to clean up. If you are like me, the priority is sharing fresh whole food with your family but not toiling away in the kitchen for hours. Quick clean-up is a must as we are generally running off to evening activities. I am including my current favorite kale recipes with you to get you started.

Roasted Chicken Legs with Kale

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana Soup

Slow Cooker Sausage Kale Soup

I am including two additional tips to make your kale experience more enjoyable.

To remove the stem of the kale leaf, turn the leaf inside out, start at the heaviest part of the stalk and simply peel back. Once the stem is removed, chopping is easy.

To soften kale, place the chopped kale into a bowl with a little olive oil and sea salt. Gently toss and knead the leaves, like you would bread, for 1-2 minutes. Combine with other leafy greens, veggies of your choice and your favorite dressing for a delicious salad.

I know you will discover what I did - kale-icious!