You'd likely be living in a cave if you haven't heard about kale by now. And while it's getting all kinds of hype over how good it is for you as the latest and greatest superfood, is it simply that: just hype?
Kale: is it as wonderful for you as the hype? Image credit: James Wilsher/sxc.hu
Ridiculously low in calories (33 calories per cup), kale is a leafy green that's absolutely loaded with vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, and K, copper, potassium, manganese, and iron. It's also low in saturated fat and cholesterol and has so much fibre and protein that your bones, skin, and hair will certainly thank you for it.
For mothers to be, it also contains folate, which is great for pre-conception.
For those on the clean eating trend, kale is a great detox food as it's filled with fibre and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.
Kale is rather similar to cabbage so if you like one, you're likely to enjoy the other. Image credit: Christa Richert/sxc.hu
Now here's the flip side about this mighty little leaf:
For some people, eating kale can actually be tough to digest. So who shouldn’t eat kale?
If you're the type to get gas or bloating when you eat kale, cabbage or beans - it’s best to avoid kale, as it can be a trickier vegetable to digest for some people. Likewise for people who experience Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or if you have any sort of digestive discomfort where you can’t pinpoint the problem food.
Pay attention to how your digestive system responds to kale as some people have difficulty digesting it. Image credit: Arnout Van Scherpenzeel/sxc.hu
As with any food, eat it mindfully and become aware of how different foods affect you personally, rather than simply eating what others tell you is healthy. Your body will tell you if kale is something that you're not easily digesting with stomach rumbles, constipation, cramps, bloating, etc. So it's always best to act on what your body is telling you.
How to make kale more digestible
Cooking kale improves its digestibility, as cooking starts to break down the tough fibers. Steaming it is a good method, or add it to soups or stews.
Cooking it also removes any bitterness from the vegetable that's present when it's raw.
One of the most popular uses for kale is in fresh vegetable juices or in smoothies. For smoothies, it's important to have a great quality blender or smoothie maker to break down the leaves properly. Use no more than a small handful of kale or your drink will be rather bitter, and mix it with other vegetables or fruits to sweeten the taste.
If you’re in the group that should avoid raw kale, avoid juices and smoothies too as the kale is still raw.
That said, there are so many creative ways to enjoy kale. I love to use kale in salads and on turkey/chicken burgers in place of lettuce or even mixed in up with whole wheat penne pasta.
Need a bit of inspiration?
Here's one of my favorite ways to have fun with kale:
Spicy sauteed kale: (Cooking time only about 10-15 minutes over a medium-heat)
Sauté 350-500g of kale in just enough olive oil to coat the pan.
Stir in a tin of mixed diced tomatoes and onions or if you don't have a tin, feel free to chop up fresh onion and tomato.
Add red crushed pepper, and garlic powder (or your favorite seasoning blend).
Now, you could stop here. Or... you could add some black beans or brown rice to make it more filling.
And voila! Dinner is served.
Share in the comments section how you've incorporated kale in your diet and what improvements you've seen in your health no matter how small.
Kale grows very well in our garden, so we've tried it in many ways. We have made kale chips - basically tossing leaves with olive oil and sea salt and baking in the oven until crisp. These were interesting and we've had them several times. We add a few leaves to smoothies, but you have to be careful or the taste is over-powering. We have also dried the kale and add it to recipes for extra nutrition, but again you have to be very careful because even a little teaspoon of the dried can over-power in taste too!