K is for kale

fruit and vegetablesGuest blog by Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor, based in London, interested in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

Like swede, kale is a vegetable with something of an image problem. Both are particularly hardy, which means they have often been used as cattle fodder. However, kale is now beginning to be make a name as a ‘superfood’, taking its place alongside blueberries, broccoli and watercress, and with good reason.

Kale is a brassica, along with cabbage and broccoli. With kale and cabbage, we eat the leaves, with broccoli it’s the flowers. All are high in flavanoids (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory) and isothiocyanates, which are said to help prevent cancer. You can buy a big bag of kale from supermarkets for £1 (or, if you prefer, a bunch of the more attractive looking cavolo nero or black kale, from a specialist greengrocer’s, and use it in three ways – in a juice, a salad and as a main meal (fish or vegetarian).

The juice. I am a very keen on juicing and have come to think that the best ones are those that combine fruit and vegetables. If I’m short of time, or out, I buy a Vegesentials juice, one of which contains apple, celery and kale. If I’m making my own, I juice a handful of kale (about a third of the £1 pack), a punnet of strawberries, a couple of Granny Smiths or pears, a large lump of ginger and a lemon (unpeeled). Kale and strawberries? Yes, it works in juice. For more on juicing, Juicing for Health .

The salad. Here you do need to remove the tough stalks of the kale leaves and chop them up small. Add a sprinkling of sea salt and some oil (I always use High Barn Oils extra virgin cold pressed flaxseed [linseed] oil in salad, but you may prefer to substitute other oils with a good omega 3:6:9 ratio) and literally massage the kale for a few minutes with your hands and it will wilt, like spinach, and go darker in colour.

Then add – well, whatever you like really, but I generally throw in a handful of sprouting seeds, some seed mix, flaked almonds and/or other nuts, olives, watercress, radishes, maybe a chopped up chilli and some sliced pickled turmeric. Other nice additions include cooked bellaverde broccoli, cooked asparagus, and avocado. Sprinkle the lot liberally with lemon juice and toss.

The main. Use the remainder of the bag of kale in a curry. You don’t need to remove the tough stalks here, as they soften in cooking. The Quick prawn and kale curry from Diabetes Diet Choices is easily put together and can be adapted for vegetarians with either sweet potato or Quorn chicken.

I generally use coconut oil for cooking, so just fry a red onion with turmeric and other spices till soft, add the diced sweet potato or Quorn chicken, cook for 50-10 minutes till browned, then add either a 400g tin of coconut milk or a 400g jar of tomato sauce and simmer for 20 minutes or so, adding more liquid if needed. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with tomato, red onion and chilli salad.
For more on kale’s nutritional properties, go to http://bit.ly/1rAoOy6


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