Ah, Kale — the most under-appreciated vegetable in the garden, or in your grocery store’s cooler… for the uninitiated. For those of you not in the know, let me clue in on why all of us who are kale fans sing its praises.
Kale kicks butt in the flavor and texture department when dressed with the right ingredients! The hearty evergreen-colored leaves offer more for your tastebuds, and your body as a whole, than their copycat imposter, romaine lettuce leaves. (Although they look a lot alike they’re actually vegetables from two different family of greens). Not to mention, in my opinion, kale is a much more healthy and satisfying vegetable, bite for bite, than any version of lettuce. And, I love lettuce, so that’s saying something!
I’m known for my love of salads among my family and close friends, who often like to tease me playfully about my insistence on my family’s weekly “Sunday Salad” rinse-repeat, go-to meal. Fortunately, I have a creative “household chef” for a husband, who makes a mean bowl of raw greens, even though he’s not a fan. Kale has been king in my house for a long time, but it really reigns supreme during my New Year Body… Cleanse — whether or not it’s tops on my husband’s list of faves!
A family affair
I’ve even converted my sons into liking it — not a hard conversion since these kids have been raised on vegetables and fruits their entire lives. But even for their sophisticated taste buds, kale was a tough one to introduce, initially. Seeing it in the grocery store and bringing home to the countertop is a beautiful thing, to me. To some kids, I guess it looks like eating a real piece of nature — maybe leaves from a flowering garden plant. That’s where the artistry in a bowl comes in and, appealing to their intellect, encouraging them to appreciate what the nutrients provide their active bodies.
My middle son Nico — the car and cooking kid — really takes it in well, but Ian and Constantine do, too, but mostly as consumers of the crop. Although, he may not see it this way, Nico appreciates kale from a chef’s perspective as a culinary, creative source to work with and create from. Like me, he likes to pinch snippets of the salads as I create them in big stainless vats, before the finished version even hits the table. He’s the perfect taste tester to offer the “little more of this,” “too much of that,” “fix it by adding this,” suggestions.
Types of kale
Kale varieties include: curly kale, dinosaur kale (also known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale), and Red Russian kale. The different varieties distinguish themselves from the others by color, texture, and taste. My favorite is dinosaur kale. I like it for its strength of texture, taste and appearance. It also holds up well, believe it or not, as leftovers the next day when prepped in a similar way to the recipe I’ve created and taste-tested for the past handful of years (recipe below). I find it convenient to pull out a ready-made salad, especially on my cleanse, that’s ready to devour when I need a quick, clean energy boost and I’m looking for a break from my seed-and-nut routine.
Kale is the reigning superfood of the vegetable kingdom! Packed with nutrients, kale’s hearty green color is an indication of its superior nutrient status. It’s part of the cabbage or cruciferous vegetable family, the Mayo Clinic Health Center reminds. When my mouth has a date with a bowl of kale, I leave the table feeling full and energized. Kale nutrients include: vitamins A, B6, C, K and potassium, folate, calcium, manganese and copper. All of these nutrients in one bite is the primary the reason I’ve always been keen on feeding it to my kids. Plus kale is easy to grow. It’s the perfect vegetable for a home garden if you’re lucky enough to have one!
María Felicia’s Cleansing Kale Salad
A simple, clean kale salad recipe that’s hearty, slightly sweet and satisfying.
1 bunch kale
1 red onion cut in half and thinly sliced
1 pint of cherry tomatoes cut in half (for those not cleansing)
2 tablespoons EVOO (or more according to taste)
Agave drizzle (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
Tear leaves from stems. Place in a salad spinner to rinse and dry. Coarsely cut leaves and place in large salad serving bowl. Sprinkle with sliced red onion. Toss. Add tomato (if including), EVOO, lemon and salt. Drizzle with agave. Enjoy!
Written by Maria Felicia Kelley
Disclaimer: Maria Felicia Kelley is not a medical doctor. The cleanse and fasting benefits she discusses in this post are derived from her own experiences and observations. Individuals should consult their own healthcare providers when eliminating foods from their diets.
@thenorthcountymoms | @1MariaFelicia
The North County Moms