There is no doubt that kale is a superfood and nutrition experts have been raving about its rich phytonutrient and antioxidant content for decades now, so it is only natural that more and more people are turning to foods like kale. Kale can provide you with iron, calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, and K. It can also help lower cholesterol, and provide us with anti-inflammatory and anti-viral benefits. Unfortunately, many people, and especially children are not too fond of kale due to its bitter taste.
So in this guide, we will take a look at some easy ways to make kale taste good in salads, as breakfast, and of course, in the form of kale chips. But first, some benefits of kale.
Benefits of eating kale
Great source of vitamins
Kale is a mega source of vitamins A, C, and K. When steamed and cooked lightly, kale’s vitamin A or beta carotene levels increase. Kale is also rich in vitamin K – just 100 grams of Kale will give you seven times the required daily amount. It is also rich in copper, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
Good for the bones
Kale and other calcium-rich greens help protect bones even better than dairy can. The synergistic combination of calcium, iron, and vitamins K and C in kale, when combined with protein sources, allow the calcium to be used up properly by the body.
Steamed kale binds to the lipids and bile acids in the digestive tract thus preventing them from getting absorbed. The liver then has to use up stored cholesterol levels to replace those bile acids, thereby lowering cholesterol.
Kale contains a host of phytonutrients that are known to prevent certain diseases and prevent premature aging. Quercetin in kale possesses antiviral properties and also inhibits LDL cholesterol. Lutein and zeaxanthin protect the eyes from UV damage. The USDA dietary guidelines recommend 4-8 mg of lutein daily. Cooked kale contains approximately 20 mg of lutein per cup.
Should we eat raw or cooked kale? What is the best way to eat kale?
Cooking kale lowers its vitamin C content but heating it gently benefits us in other ways such as releasing some of the phytonutrients. Steaming or sautéing kale lightly also releases pigments that are bound together tightly within its leaves and aids in better digestion, absorption, and assimilation of the nutrients in it. Lightly steamed kale also has a better cholesterol-lowering ability.
As can be seen, kale is indeed a superfood and we should all make it a part of our daily diet. So without further delay, here are some interesting things you can do when you have lots of kale.
1. Kale breakfast bars
This is a delicious and different way to make kale and use it for breakfast.
- Preheat oven to 300 F
- Wash and dry the kale bunch and chop it into bite-sized pieces. It is very important that the leaves are completely dry so that your breakfast bars become crispy. Rub a mixture of coconut oil and kosher salt on the leaves.
- In a bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. In another bowl, mix oats, nuts, and seeds and set aside.
- Rub a couple of teaspoons of the wet ingredients on the kale. Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the oats and seeds mixture and mix well until incorporated.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the oats mixture on one sheet and kale on the other. Crisp both, the kale and oats, and remove from the oven.
- Cool the kale and combine it with the oats. You can add chopped dried fruits to the mixture.
2. Kale breakfast burritos
Kids love to eat kale this way.
- Preheat oven to 300 F. Warm tortillas in the oven after wrapping them in a foil first.
- In a skillet, add olive oil and heat it. Add scallions, red peppers, and kale and sauté for a few minutes. Use tongs to turn the kale leaves. They should be tender within 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- In another skillet, add some olive oil and scramble the eggs with salt and pepper.
- Now mix the eggs, hot sauce, kale mixture, and cheese.
- Fill inside the tortillas and serve with other accompaniments like avocado slices, salsa, etc.
3. Kale salad with fruits and nuts
This recipe will make kale taste good in a salad.
- Wash and dry the kale leaves. Chop them into bite-sized pieces. Add olive oil and a bit of salt to the leaves and set aside. This will cause the leaves to shrink in volume.
- Make the salad dressing by whisking together lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
- Place the kale leaves on a platter. Sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of shredded, unsweetened, lightly toasted coconut. Add thinly sliced apricots. Also, add a cup of fresh blueberries. Thinly slice one tart apple (cored) and add that to the salad. Mix well. Next, sprinkle some toasted almond slivers.
- Drizzle the dressing on top. Garnish with some more toasted coconut and almonds.
4. Kale chips (and some of its tastiest variations)
If you are wondering what to do with lots of kale, this is your answer.
- 1 bunch kale – washed, dried, stems removed, and leaves torn into large pieces
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Add kale chips in a bowl and drizzle olive oil on it. Sprinkle salt and rub the leaves well.
- Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.
- Turn the leaves with tongs and reduce oven temperature to about 250 F. Bake for 15 more minutes until the leaves are crispy.
- Add some more salt and serve.
Variations to the traditional kale chips recipe
- Make your kale chips taste a bit less-bitter by sprinkling parmesan cheese (finely grated) in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Sesame and soy sauce – Add soy sauce to the olive oil and salt and rub it on the kale leaves before baking. You can sprinkle sesame seeds on the chips during the last 5 minutes of baking.
- Spicy kale chips – mix curry powder, cumin powder, cayenne pepper, or other favorite spice powders and add the mixture to the chips during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Lemon-pepper – Add freshly ground black pepper to the leaves before baking and add freshly grated lemon zest as soon as the chips come out of the oven.
- Sriracha-lime and kale chips – Mix sriracha and lime with the olive oil and apply to the leaves before baking them. When the chips are out of the oven, add fresh lime or lemon zest on them.
Kale chips are a great way to cook kale and they make a great accompaniment to many dishes. We hope you also try out the other ways to use kale given above.