If there was a popularity contest for veggies, kale would win hands-down! This leafy green veg is a favourite among hipsters, health aficionados and celebrities alike thanks to its outstanding nutritional benefits. If you’re not already a fully paid-up member of the kale fan club, its low-calorie, high-fibre and zero-fat profile should tempt you to get on board.
As well as being a great addition to any weight-loss plan, kale is ideal for digestion and will help keep your system moving as it contains around 5g fibre per 100g. Kale is an excellent source of iron – and, in fact, it contains more iron than beef per serve! That’s important for anyone with anaemia or heavy periods, or just looking for more energy, as it helps to form haemoglobin, the molecules that carry iron within our red blood cells.
If punching beef into shape wasn’t enough, kale is also high in calcium, giving milk a run for its money with fewer calories. If you’re dairy intolerant or vegan, this veg will give you a good dose of bone-strengthening calcium.
Vitamin K, which helps to protect against certain cancers, is also found in high quantities in kale, along with heaps of antioxidants. This all-important, but lesser known vitamin is needed for a whole host of bodily functions, including the health of your bones, preventing blood clotting and keeping cholesterol in check. There is also some evidence that vitamin K can help those suffering with Alzheimer’s.
Kale can help fight inflammation as it contains omega-3 fatty acids, so make sure you’re eating kale regularly if you have an injury, arthritis or asthma, as it will help to reduce the effects and speed recovery.
Vitamins A and C are two more vits found in kale. Vitamin A is important for vision and vitamin C for your immune system, but both of them are brilliant skin vitamins so dose up to help keep wrinkles at bay.
And if all of this wasn’t enough, kale is also a great way to cleanse your body, containing both fibre and sulphur which are involved in the detoxification process.
Although a little tough, you can eat kale raw – try finely shredding the leaves and throwing them in a salad, or simply putting them straight into a green juice. It’s also delicious lightly steamed, sautéed or added to a robust soup such as minestrone.
3 tasty green ideas
- Kale with rosemary and chilli
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and then add 1 large sliced onion. Fry gently until tender before adding 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, 1 chilli (deseeded and thinly sliced) and 4 crushed garlic cloves. Fry for one minute before adding 250g kale; season with salt and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the rosemary and serve as a side dish.
- Potato and kale soup
Peel and slice 450g potatoes and place them in a pan with 1 clove of garlic, ½ small onion and salt and pepper to season. Cover with water and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Blend or mash it until smooth. Next chop the stalks off of 250g kale and finely shred or chop the leaves. Bring the soup back to the boil and add the kale, simmering for about 5 minutes before serving with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Kale frittata
Boil 350g diced potato until tender. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry 1 sliced onion with 75g chopped kale. Mix together 6 medium eggs and 73ml milk with salt and pepper to taste. Drain and add the potatoes, pour over the egg mixture and cook gently for about 7 minutes. Finish by placing under a preheated grill for 1-2 minutes before serving with a crisp green salad.
100g cooked kale