Kale is growing in popularity, but for quite a while it was an under-appreciated green. It’s a member of the cabbage family, but unlike other cabbages, it doesn’t grow as a head; rather, the leaves spread outward. Plus, the flavor is less pungent than cabbage can sometimes be, making it more appealing to kids. Kale comes in several varieties, such as Lacinato (or Tuscan), plain-leaved, and curly, and all are equally nutritious and delicious. Some people grow kale as a decorative plant, since some varieties are beautiful shades of purple and ivory. The best part is that this leafy green will be sticking around through most of winter because it loves the cool weather!
The nutritional benefits from kale are outstanding. It contains cancer-fighting chemicals, as well as dietary fiber. Kale is an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamins A and C, and vitamin K that helps keep the blood oxygenated as well as the minerals copper, and manganese.
Kale is a heartier leaf than other greens like spinach or arugula, but it makes a delicious addition to salads. A great way to use raw kale in a salad is to “massage” it with lemon juice and olive oil to tenderize the leaves. You can also bake them with a little olive oil and sea salt to make yummy kale chips. If you prefer to cook it on the stove, it tastes great sautéed with some minced garlic, or it can be steamed as a quick, low fat cooking method. At HealthBarn, the kids eat it fresh from the garden and we love topping pizza with it or eating it in one of our favorite recipes Quinoa with Kale and Walnuts included in Appetite for Life: The Thumbs-Up, No-Yucks Guide to Get Your Kid to be a Great Eater. Write in and share with us: how are you cooking kale up at home?
Quinoa with Kale and Walnuts
Our favorite whole-grain is quinoa because it smells so good when it’s cooking and because it’s full of great stuff. It’s a complete protein (it contains lysine, an amino acid missing in most grains), and is a good source of riboflavin, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and fiber. We added fresh kale because it’s the super leafy green loaded with vitamins A and C, and the walnuts offer healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. Move over rice – we’re all about quinoa.
1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups water
4 ounces kale, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons walnuts, finely chopped
Torn fresh basil leaves for garnish
1. Rinse quinoa with cold running water and drain.
2. In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add quinoa and cook until toasted, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 12–15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
3. When quinoa is cooked, add kale and tomatoes to quinoa in saucepan. Cook over low heat until kale begins to wilt and tomatoes are warm, about 1 minute, stirring. Stir in Parmesan and walnuts. Garnish with basil leaves. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan if you like.
Makes 5 servings (1 cup per serving).
Nutrition Facts per serving: 210 calories; 8g fat (1g sat fat, 3g mono, 4g poly, 0g trans fat); 0mg cholesterol; 28g carbohydrate (3g fiber, 1g sugar); 7g protein; 55mg sodium; 70% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 50% DV vitamin C; 8% DV calcium; 20% DV iron.