I love kale. I grew up loving kale. My mother used to make kale soup (not my favorite) and then she’d take the cooked kale and prepare it with garlic and eggs, and I just couldn’t get enough of it. I no longer eat eggs, but kale is still a staple.
It is easy to grow, and I have had kale winter over in southern Vermont for 3 years. Sadly last year the kale plants became infested with aphids and I had to pull them out. I now have some new plants growing and look forward to harvesting some for smoothies, salads and kale chips.
Curly Kale in the Garden
Kale likes cool weather, but I have never had a problem growing it in the northeast throughout the summer. I have even seen it growing as an ornamental (and I’m not referring to the plant that is in a tight head for that purpose), planted among flowers. The curly green leaves add much beauty to the beds, and then you can eat it!
I typically add some kale to my smoothies and soups. Here’s a recipe for a creamy kale salad. Because kale may be difficult to digest raw, it is best to massage it with salt and an acid (in this recipe I use lemon juice) until it “cooks.” The salt and acid break down the cellulose walls and make it more digestible.
1 large bunch of kale
2 ripe avocados
Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil (optional – drizzle in if too dry)
Optional: cayenne, scallions or onions
- Strip kale off the stems, then cut or tear into small pieces (you may save the stems for juicing). Or, use a food processor for this, pulsing gently in small batches. Do not liquefy the kale.
- Sprinkle with some salt and hand process, massaging the kale until it takes on a cooked appearance. It will greatly reduce in volume. The salt actually cooks the kale by breaking down the cell walls.
- Squeeze one or two lemons onto the kale and massage again. The acid in the lemon juice will continue “cooking” the kale.
- Cut the avocados in half and score in a criss-cross fashion. Scoop out with a spoon and mix it thoroughly with your hands, “smooshing” (a special culinary term) it well to create a creamy texture. (Kids love to do this!) For a chunkier salad, reserve half an avocado and toss in without smooshing.
- Toss in the diced tomatoes, and the (optional) chopped scallions and cayenne.
Dark, leafy greens are among nature’s most beneficial foods. Kale is a great food if you’re looking to protect your health and enjoy a delicious food at the same time. The phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables such as kale kelp detoxify cells, clearing free radicals and potential carcinogens, which may be why cruciferous vegetables appear to be able to lessen the occurrence of a wide variety of cancers and also provide significant cardiovascular benefits as well. Studies consistently show that diets high in cruciferous vegetables are associated with lower incidence of a variety of cancers, including lung, colon, bladder, breast and ovarian cancer. Kale is also known for its carotenoids, which prevent damage to the eyes from excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, offering a protective effect against cataracts. Kale is an excellent source of traditional nutrients, as well, including vitamins A, C, B, and manganese and a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, copper, and potassium. The benefits go on… Kale is helpful for immune support, reducing inflammatory conditions such as asthma and arthritis, preventing colds and recurrent ear infections. Kale is also a very good source of calcium, important for bone health, and vitamin E, shown to slow the loss of mental function. The combination of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients makes kale a health superstar!
Nutrition information source: World’s Healthiest Foods