kale

Cooking with kale

As the days become warmer and longer, now is the best time to stock up on the surplus of vegies bursting off the tables at the farmers’ market. Nothing says summer better than bright, fresh leafy greens.  After all, hot days spent outdoors demand foods that encourage you to chill out. What’s more, leafy greens are brimming with nutrients and disease-fighting minerals. One particular green that features heavily during all seasons in Australia is kale.

You will know if there has been a bumper crop of kale when you find bargain bunches of this lush, deep-green vegie just begging to be taken home. Related to the cabbage family but often confused with spinach, kale is as happy in a juice as it is in a creamy vegetable soup. Indeed, this humble green bouquet has been touted as a superfood.

Kale holds an amazing amount of vitamin A, excellent for fending off infections, particularly at the turn of the season. Pre-conception women looking to increase their folate levels need only to whiz some kale into their breakfast smoothie for an added burst of this vital B vitamin. And for those men who think they don’t need folate? A deficiency has been shown to increase your chance of Alzheimer’s, cancer, stroke and depression

Vitamin K is also available in the leaves of kale, an important vitamin that helps regulate blood clotting. As vitamin K is fat soluble, make sure you pair your kale leaves with a good-quality fat to ensure you are getting the most K from your kale. It’s also high in calcium, making it an excellent alternative for those looking to add bone-strengthener without dairy. If you are still wary, you should know it packs a hefty dose of lutein and zeaxanthin, known preventers of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Buying kale can be daunting at first, particularly when some new-age food stores like to label it with several different names. While there are many varieties of this pretty leaf, from experience the most common two available in Australia are the curly-leaf (Scots kale) or the Italian cavolo nero, otherwise known as Tuscan cabbage or dinosaur kale. There is little difference in taste between the two but texturally they are quite different, with the curly variety having sturdier and firmer leaves. This renders curly kale an excellent option for baking into kale chips or whizzing into smoothies. Cavolo nero has a much softer leaf and is better suited to sautéing or braising because the fibres break down with ease.

When buying your bunches, make sure the leaves are large, tall and firm. If the leaves are wilted, it has been sitting on the shelf for far too long and won’t pack the same nutritional punch. Once home, I prepare my kale into ready-to-go strips and store in my salad spinner. This means my kale is on hand so I can chuck them into a salad, blend it into a smoothie or add it to a soup.

Breakfast

Who doesn’t love a good egg for breakfast? Why not bake a batch of these on a Sunday afternoon and have them packaged and ready to go for a simple breakfast during the week? Feel free to add your favourite herbs and enjoy the knowledge that you managed to squeeze a leafy green into your breakfast regime.

Mini Frittatas With Kale & Tomato

Makes 6 frittatas
Prep time: 15 minutes
1 brown onion, chopped
6 organic eggs
3 tbsp almond milk
6 vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 large kale leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil for frying
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 175°C.
Fry onion in olive oil until caramelised. Blend eggs and almond milk in a blender until light and fluffy. Place all ingredients together, season and divide mixture into a six-cup muffin pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from muffin pan and cool.

Lunch

I prefer to take my food with me when I can because I know that what I am eating is made with quality ingredients and lots of love. Many a packed lunch has ended in disaster with the contents of my wallet swimming in a delicious concoction of olive oil and lemon juice. This salad uses avocado to marinate the kale in, meaning I have peace of mind when I pack this for my daughter or myself. For extra nutrition, I pair it with a serving of protein. 

Marinated Kale Salad

Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes

1 head kale, tough ends & stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
1 avocado
½ tsp Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
Juice of ½ lemon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 tomatoes, chopped

Wash and de-stem kale (I use kitchen scissors to cut along the sides of the stems), tear the leaves into smallish pieces. In a small bowl, add avocado, sea salt, lemon juice and cayenne pepper and mix together until pureed. In a large salad bowl, toss kale in olive oil and massage the avocado mixture into the kale leaves. Let sit for half an hour to break down the kale leaves. Before serving, add the tomatoes and yeast flakes.

Dinner

In summer, I still love to cook over a stove and to me a bowl of soup is still astonishingly nourishing despite the outside heat. This is particularly true when you prepare your meals for the week and eat from the freezer, like I do. Whip up this soup, freeze it in portions and have it at the ready when time isn’t on your side.

Creamy Cauliflower Kale Soup

Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Chill time: 20 minutes

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Sea salt
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets
4½ cups filtered water
5 large kale leaves, tough ends removed, leaves roughly chopped (tear it with your hands)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil (or your favourite herb)
Freshly ground black pepper
Tahini to drizzle over 

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onion, covered, until soft. Add garlic and a pinch of salt, cook for 3 minutes more. Add cauliflower and pour in filtered water until it reaches the top of the cauliflower. Bring to the boil over high heat then reduce heat to low. Add the kale and simmer until cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes. Let the soup cool, then stir in basil. Puree soup in batches with a stick blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with a reserved basil leaf and drizzle with a tablespoon of tahini.

 

Lee Holmes runs Supercharged Food, an altruistic website helping you to expand your range of healthy food choices and plan ahead to create and maintain a satisfying, wholesome and nourishing diet. W: www.superchargedfood.com, blog www.supercharged1.wordpress.com

Cooking with kale

By: Lee Holmes

The humble, versatile, nutrient-dense kale has been touted as a superfood — with good reason.


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Tried this recipe? Mention @wellbeing_magazine or tag #wbrecipe!

Lee Holmes

Lee Holmes

Lee Holmes is a nutritionist, yoga and meditation teacher, wholefoods chef, Lifestyle Food Channel’s Healthy Eating Expert, blogger and author of the best-selling books Supercharged Food: Eat Your Way to Health, Supercharged Food: Eat Yourself Beautiful, Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian, Heal your Gut, Eat Right for Your Shape and Supercharged Food for Kids.

Lee’s food philosophy is all about S.O.L.E. food: sustainable, organic, local and ethical. Her main goal is to alter the perception that cooking fresh, wholesome, nutrient-rich meals is difficult, complicated and time-consuming. From posting recipes, her passion to share her autoimmune disease story and help others has snowballed and the blog has recently taken home the overall prize at the Bupa Health Influencer Awards as well as the best blog in the Healthy Eating category. She also runs a four-week online Heal Your Gut program.

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