What’s So Great About Kale?

What’s So Great About Kale?

It all started a couple of years ago.  It was kale this and kale that. When you ordered delivery organics, the box arrived at the door loaded with kale. The store shelves seemed to suddenly be bursting with giant bundles of thick green leaves. It made me tense. What’s wrong with good old spinach? Why do they sell this kale stuff in such large quantities? How is it so green? Does it even taste good? My mom never made me kale.

Then my relationship with SPC began and my kale anxieties deepened. I was introduced to Laura. Or should I say, LAURA, QUEEN OF KALE! whipping up her mini kale pizzas and kale pesto pasta and kale quiche. Not only that, but Scarlett helps to make these dishes and then she eats them … happily!

Now, if I produced a  kale pizza, my little darling would screw up her face and commence a hunger strike. Or would she?  Perhaps I don’t give her enough credit. Perhaps I hide behind my child’s fussy eating habits to mask my own kale insecurities. I admit, I don’t cook with kale very often. I’ve let more bundles turn to a soupy mess in my fridge than I care to count. But I am determined because it is literally nature’s best. You know how I know this? Laura told me.

That is, Laura and the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI ). This is a real mind fuck if there ever was one. If you weren’t already tortured by the food you and your family eats, this one ought to do the trick. The ANDI system is something Dr. Joel Fuhrman cooked up and Whole Foods Market has endorsed.  According to his website, Dr. Fuhrman is a board-certified family physician who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. He is the author of several books on nutrition and health including Disease-Proof Your Child. ANDI is his rating system assigned to foods that scores nutrients per calorie, the highest being 1000 which kale receives , and the lowest is 1 which cola receives.  We really didn’t need a ranking system for that. It is everything in between that startles me about the ANDI ranking system. According to ANDI, the sweet potato, for example, scores a mere 83, avocado a 36, and the much praised blueberry gets a flimsy 130. Huh? You can refer to our posts on sweet potato, avocado and  blueberry to learn why they are terrific foods.  I won’t take it back, the ANDI system be damned.  Where Dr. Fuhrman  gets it right is with kale: it really is the vegetable.

Kale belongs to the Brassica family which includes cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, collards, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, a family of healthy vegetables indeed, ( just take a look at their ANDI profiles below) but kale truly is King. According to the website whfoods.org, “Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body’s detoxification system. New research has shown that the Isothiocyanates made from kale’s glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level.”  I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good, doesn’t it? Whfoods.org also states that it is these glucosinolates, which kale is especially rich in, that are converted by the body into cancer preventive compounds. Sign me up.

To put it simply, kale promotes health at every level, it is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, (Vitamins C, A, E, K and ALA omega 3 fatty acids to name only its top players). It is packed with fiber and is low in calories, contains calcium, and B Vitamins. Kale is good for your heart, plays a significant role in detox and as more and more research is being conducted, kale is being touted as legitimate in cancer prevention specifically in relation to colon, prostate, bladder, breast and ovary cancers. It is hard to argue with that, the ANDI rating and Laura, so get kale in the mix.

A word of caution on kale – it ranks among the dirty dozen for pesticides according to the Environmental Working Group so buy organic when you can.


Kale for beginners:

Kale Chips

Bundle of Kale

2 tsp or 3 olive oil
1/4 cup parmesean
Wash and trim a bundle of kale. Remove the centre stalk and tear leafy greens into medium sized pieces.
Drizzle olive oil and then toss with your hands, be sure to get right in there. You don’t need a lot to cover everything lightly.
Lightly dust freshly grated parmesean.  Again, get in there with your hands.

The key to great kale chips is patience. Spread your kale out on a baking sheets – the pieces must  not touch or they won’t crisp up.

I cook mine for 9 minutes in a convection oven set to 350º. If you don’t have a convection oven try 400º for 8 – 10 minutes. Every oven is a little different, you may have to experiment a bit with time.  I always take my bottom baking sheet out first and give the top one a few more seconds as I remove the crsipy chips and reload for another round.

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