Crazy for Kale!

I have to be honest, until about two months ago, when I received my first bunch of leafy greens in my CSA box, I was not a fan of kale. Although I knew about all of kale’s health benefits, and the fact that it is one of nutrition’s biggest “superfoods,” I could not get myself to enjoy the distinct taste and texture of this vegetable. However, after some experimentation, I have a new found love for kale, especially in soups and smoothies. The easiest way to enjoy kale is to sprinkle a little olive oil and pepper on the leaves,  and pop them in the oven for a few minutes to make crispy kale chips. I have found they are are a great side to go along with sandwiches, and a healthier alternative than potato chips or fries!

Kale is from the brassica family, and is related to cabbage, collard greens, and brussel sprouts. There are many different varieties of kale to choose from, but the three most popular are green, red curly, and dinosaur kale. Kale is loaded with Vitamins K, A, C, and is high in manganese, fiber, calcium, B6, potassium, and omega 3’s. These nutrients all work together to reduce inflammation, work as antioxidants, increase immunity, and help to prevent chronic disease such as cancer. Because it is so rich in fiber, kale helps to regulate your digestive tract, lower cholesterol levels, and keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Kale is truly a superfood!

Here are three recipes that I especially enjoy making. Not only are they nutritious, but they are very flavorful and filling!

Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup

This hearty soup is packed with crunchy veggies and beans! It is full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein! Surprisingly, this is a quick and easy meal to make in 30 minutes. I prepared this soup for dinner and paired this soup with a hot grilled cheese sandwich.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 cup diced yellow onion

4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 (32-ounce) box low-sodium vegetable broth (I used 2 tbsp of vegetable base for 32 ounces of water)

4 cups packed chopped kale

1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style low sodium diced tomatoes

1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced

Preparation:

1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.

2. Add broth, kale, and carrots and cover. Cook 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Add beans and canned tomatoes and heat thouroughly, approximately 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

“Get Over It Being Green” Kale Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup organic chopped greens, such as spinach or kale, thick stems removed

½ mango, peeled and cubed

½  cup original or unsweetned ricemilk

½ banana

1.5 tbsp organic vanilla soy protein powder

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Per smoothie: 220 kcal, 8g fiber, 9g protein

*This recipe dairy free, gluten free, high fiber, low fat, vegan, vegetarian

Kale Chips

Ingredients:

½ # red or green kale, sliced into 4 x 4 strips (or however small or large you want your chips to be)

1 tsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

2. Line an aluminum baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with Pam cooking spray.

3. Place kale strips onto baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and toss a pinch of salt and pepper onto the kale, just to add a little flavor.

4. Place in the oven and let the kale roast for about 5-7 minutes. Be careful not to let the kale burn, as it tends to crisp very quickly in the oven!

In my next adventure with kale, I plan to make a garlicky kale salad…stay tuned!

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