Kale – in April’s glow

6 Apr

There is no getting around it -green leafy vegetables are amazing. They support our liver and gallbladder that work tirelessly to rid our body of toxins, they are good blood builders and are excellent for making strong bones and lungs. What I most love, is that green leaves are made green by the magic that is photosynthesis. Chlorophyll – that which makes plants green, absorbs sunlight and transforms carbon dioxide and water into energy – carbohydrates – that nourish our bodies.

We have chosen to showcase kale in its many delicious forms at Butter Beans this month. Unlike many other leafy vegetables, kale can be grown in the winter. It is actually sweeter when it grows in the cold, and more bitter when it is warm. Kale is full of vitamin K that is important for strong bones, vitamin A needed for strong tissues and eyesight, vitamin C, important for all cell activity, and a plethora of other important vitamins and minerals. Kale is the quite simply one of the most nutrient dense foods around, and worth finding ways to love.

During World War II in the UK, the cultivation of kale was encouraged through the Dig for Victory campaign – the government encouraged people to grow their own food. Kale was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet due to rationing at that time.

You can tell classic kale apart because of its curly edges seen here. Lacinato or dinosaur kale, has deep blue-ish green leaves that look a bit like a broadly pebbled road. And purple kale – looks mostly like it’s curly counterpart but goodness, the purple is beautiful.

There are plenty of ways, even for the least adventurous of us, to benefit from this nutrient dense power plant. Slice it very thin and sauté with garlic, to bring out the best of the flavor. Puree into tomato sauce for pasta, or steam and put on a pizza. If you are not accustomed to these dark bitter greens (the more bitter, the better for your heart!) try cooking them with something sweet – like corn or raisins or cranberries. Kale goes well with meat, fish, in omelets, in stir-fries, and wonderfully with white beans in soup.

My daughter, at every birthday begs me to make kale chips. And even her friends that won’t eat green things, devour them instantly.

How to make them: Dip your fingers in olive oil, and lightly coat the clean leaves as you break them off into large chip sized pieces. Put on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt before putting into a hot oven at 350 degrees. After five minutes, flip them over and bake another 2-5 minutes. Stay close! Kale chips are delicious but burn quickly.

Be on the lookout for more kale recipes throughout this month.

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