Kale – A Powerhouse Vegetable

March 27, 2015 at 10:33 am | Posted in Nutrition, recipes | Leave a comment
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By Toni Ambrogio, Dietetic Intern

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While many leafy green vegetables are full of healthful nutrients, kale has recently taken the spotlight for its versatility in the kitchen. While kale may start as a crunchy, leafy vegetable enjoyed in salad, it can be easily softened into a soup or stew, or transformed into kale chips for a healthier snacking option.

What Makes Kale Healthy?

Kale contains beneficial nutrients like beta carotene, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C. Beta carotene plays a role in vision and immunity; Vitamin K aids in proper clotting and coagulation of our blood; and Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are molecules that attach to free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals can negatively impact our bodies by causing damage to cells. Kale is also known as a “diabetes super food” due to its low glycemic index.

Kale Chips

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.

Put the kale leaves in a bowl. Lightly pour the olive oil over the kale until the kale is glistening and coated (do not apply too much oil).

Transfer the kale to a baking sheet and spread it out for even cooking. Lightly season with salt. For a kick of citrus flavor, sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning. Create a bold, new flavor by sprinkling the kale with chili powder and garlic powder. You can be very creative!

Bake until crispy, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. Cool and serve.

Ribollita – The Italian Minestrone

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

4 – 6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 medium to large onion, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, diced

1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, low sodium

6 cups water (or vegetable stock, low sodium)

2 15 ounce cans small white beans, low sodium

4 cups chopped kale

Directions:

  1. If vegetables are canned, rinse under water until water runs clear to rinse away some of the sodium.
  2. Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO. Add the garlic, three-quarters of the chopped onion, the carrots and zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook the veggies for 7 to 8 minutes, then add the wine to deglaze the pot. Stir in the tomatoes and stock and bring up the heat. When the soup boils, reduce it to a simmer and stir in the bread and beans. Pile the greens into the pot and wilt them into the soup.
  3. Simmer the ribollita for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring the soup as it simmers, until it thickens to a dense stew-like consistency. Turn off the heat, adjust the seasonings and ladle into shallow bowls.
  4. Additional – top each bowl with some of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, an additional drizzle of EVOO, a spoonful of the reserved raw onion and some basil.

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