Kale: To Hail or Not to Hail?

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I am notoriously skeptical when it comes to superfoods. A lot of it is food hype is based around bad information or pseudoscience. I also dislike the idea that any one food is crucial for good health. Generally speaking, there are super foods, but there’s no such thing as a Superfood!

Having said all that, kale is about as close as it gets. Sure, all the “Hail to the Kale” and “Kale University” shirts are cute. But it turns out, this is one nutrition-world darling that actually deserves its time in the spotlight.

No Longer Just a Garnish

The caloric bargain on this stuff is pretty impressive. One cup of raw kale provides just 35 calories, but it contains a brag-worthy abundance of vitamins and minerals. That serving supplies 200% of your daily vitamin A, 100% of your vitamin C and 500% of vitamin K. That’s not to mention the B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Not bad for a leafy green once relegated to side dishes and garnishes.

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Give me a K!

You read it, but probably didn’t think twice: 500% of your vitamin K. Big whoop, right? Unless you’re on blood thinners, this vitamin likely isn’t even on your radar. But new research suggests that it maybe should be. Vitamin K has long been recognized for its role in blood clotting, healing wounds and keeping your bones healthy. But the latest research suggests it might help with a whole host of other body processes, helping with insulin sensitivity, regulating blood sugars, preventing metabolic syndrome and reducing inflammation.

Now here’s a tasty tip you might be surprised to hear from a dietitian: add some fat!  The vitamin K in foods can be difficult to absorb because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin. So consuming vitamin k-rich foods (like kale) with some fat will help your body absorb more.

Try serving it with a healthy dose of unsaturated fats like those found in cashews and olive oil (thank me later).

Kale-oncé (AKA Queen K)

With a nutrition profile bursting with benefits, this cruciferous veg has certainly earned its crown. But one cannot (and should not) live on kale alone. All leafy greens are great sources of micronutrients. So if kale is getting stale, swap in some Swiss chard, collard greens or bok choy. Just because Beyoncé  is a cut above the rest, it doesn’t mean that I can’t get down to Rihanna once in a while. Variety is the spice of life, after all!

Just like most leafy greens, kale can be enjoyed raw in a salad, cooked as a side dish, or thrown in a smoothie or pasta sauce. But my personal favourite is the oh-so-addictive Kale Chip.

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Zesty Kale Crisps
Author: Erika Brown
These Zesty Kale Crisps are everything you could ever want in a chip. They're savoury, crunchy and bursting with dorito-ish flavour. But with a hefty helping of nutrients, fibre and protein, they make perfectly balanced snack that you don't need to feel guilty about.
Serves: 5 cups
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 6 cups chopped kale leaves, washed, thoroughly dried (stems removed)
  • 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast, divided
  • ¼ tsp. each salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 - 4 Tbsp. water as needed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Spread diced peppers evenly on lightly greased baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Once peppers are roasted, reduce oven heat to 300°F.
  3. Place cashews in small bowl and cover with boiling water for 10 minutes.
  4. While cashews are soaking, add kale to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil. Use hands to massage the oil into the kale to soften.
  5. Add cashews, roasted pepper, ¼ cup nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne and remaining olive oil to a food processor or blender and pulse into a thick paste, scraping down the sides and adding water as needed.
  6. Add mixture to the kale and toss with hands to distribute, working it in so it's thoroughly coated.
  7. Divide kale between 2 large baking sheets and spread into an even layer, making sure the pieces aren't overlapping.
  8. Sprinkle the kale with remaining nutritional yeast and bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven, flip kale and bake for another 10 - 20 minutes, or until chips are crispy and golden brown.
Notes
*Baking time will vary based on your oven. To avoid burning, rotate the pan every 10 minutes to check for doneness the first time you make them.
**Nutrition Information analyzed using Eatracker.ca
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 268.9 Fat: 15.9 Saturated fat: 2.5 Unsaturated fat: 13.4 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 21.2 Sugar: 3.9 Sodium: 57 Fiber: 5.7 Protein: 14.4 Cholesterol: 0

Cruciferoulsy yours,

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