Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family (a group of vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts) that have gained recent widespread attention due to their health-promoting, sulphur-containing phytonutrients. There are several varieties of kale all of which differ in taste, texture and appearance:
Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and is deep green in colour. When cooked it has a pungent flavour with bitter peppery qualities.
Ornamental kale is a more recently cultivated species that is oftentimes referred to as salad savoy. Its leaves may either be green, white, or purple. Ornamental kale has a more mellow flavour and tender texture.
Dinosaur kale features dark blue-green leaves that have an embossed texture. It has a slightly sweeter taste than curly kale.
Introduction: 8 months
As with spinach, kale is high in nitrates so it is best to wait until your little one is 8 months old before introducing kale.
Choose kale with firm, deeply coloured leaves and moist hardy stems. You should find kale in a cool environment of the market since warm temperatures will cause it to wilt and negatively affect its flavour. The leaves should not be wilting, browning or yellowing.
Choose kale with smaller-sized leaves since these will be more tender and have a milder flavour than those with larger leaves. Kale is available throughout the year, although it is more widely available, and at its peak, from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring.
Kale is on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen Plus list. Conventionally grown kale is usually contaminated with a certain type of insecticide that is considered to be highly toxic to the nervous system. Purchase organic kale whenever possible.
Store whole, raw, unwashed kale in a sealed container/bag in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Soak the kale in a salt-, vinegar-, or hydrogen peroxide water solution for 20 minutes then rinse under running water.
Kale is best cooked by lightly steaming or briefly sautéing it.
You can purée the cooked kale with some other creamier vegetables or fruits.
Kale can also be added raw to a veggie juice or smoothie.
Dehydrated kale chips are one of Mila’s all time favourites!
Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet and a nutritional superfood in three basic areas: antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients; micronutrients; and, cancer-preventive nutrients.
Kale is an EXCELLENT source of: vitamins A (in the form of carotenoids), C and K, copper, and manganese.
Kale is a VERY GOOD source of: vitamins B1, B2, B6, and E, dietary fibre, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, protein, folate, and niacin.
To really impress upon you why kale is considered a vegetable superfood,
1 cup of kale has:
- 684% of the RDA (recommended daily amount) of vitamin K,
- 206% of the RDA of vitamin A,
- 134% of vitamin C.
If that was not impressive enough – it has more calcium by weight than milk, and its calcium is 25% more bioavailable than that in milk!
A special mention must also be made of kale’s protein content – like meat, it has all the essential amino acids and 9 non-essential ones (amino acids are the building clocks of protein within the body). With this exceptionally high amount of protein (especially for a vegetable) it has recently been acclaimed as the “new beef” and is a useful addition to any, but especially, a vegetarian diet. The protein is more bioavailable than meat protein and the body has to expend less energy to make use of it.
Mila has never been a big meat-eater – I add kale to her veggie juice every morning and am happy knowing she is getting a healthy dose of protein and omega 3 fatty acids.