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Kale is king in southwest gardens

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In case you have not heard, kale is considered by many to be a super food. It ranks as one of the top cruciferous vegetables because it offers up so much nutrition in every bite. According to WebMD expert and nutritionist Dr. Kathleen M. Zelman, just one cup of kale provides “9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K.” It is a good source of several minerals and antioxidants, and it also is said to help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and help prevent heart disease. There are so many benefits from eating kale that it almost sounds too good to be true.

If you are like many people, you may wonder how to incorporate this super food into your daily diet. The recipes below will get you started. Kale lends itself to a plethora of gastronomic delights and may be prepared in any number of ways. One of my personal favorites is kale chips. They are ever so easy to prepare, and provide a yummy, crunchy snack for those late-night snack attacks.

Kale Chips
1 pound (or one bunch if purchasing from the store) fresh kale
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. seasoned salt

Wash the leaves then dry them with a towel or salad spinner. Carefully cut the leafy parts from the thick stems, breaking or cutting into bite-sized pieces. Spread leaves out on a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt over all. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes until edges are browned, but not burned. For variation, try a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese prior to baking.

Chicken, Kale and Sweet Potato Soup
1 pound fresh kale, cut into strips (stems removed)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 med. sweet potatoes or yams, cut into ½- to ¾-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tbsp. ginger (I prefer fresh, but dried also works)
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. red chili powder
2 quarts vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 can (13.6 oz.) coconut milk
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped (or vegetarian protein such as seitan) fully cooked
2 cups cooked brown rice
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and spices; cook for 2 minutes. Add yams and broth and then bring to a slow simmer. Add kale leaves and cook until they are reduced in size. Add chicken and rice. Simmer until yams are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and serve.

Sautéed Kale with Pine Nuts
1 pound fresh kale, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup roasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic; cook until soft. Stir in kale and stock. Cover and cook kale down, about 5 minutes. Remove cover and cook until liquid is nearly gone. Add lemon juice and nuts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

  • For more information on the healthful benefits of kale, visit WebMD®.
  • For more recipes, please visit Cooking Light®.

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