I’ve recently discovered picking and pawning shows on the History channel — yes, I am a total geek! My favorite game is to count how many times they use the well-worn cliché “back in the day.” So now it’s my turn. Did you even notice how comic book heroes always had a secret source for their superhuman strength? Back in the day, Popeye had his can of spinach. Today, even Ironman has gone green with Chlorophyll shakes — you know, to ward off the blood poisoning brought on by the Palladium core required for the ARC reactor in his body! Fortunately, for the rest of us, going green is a little less complicated but the results may be just as powerful.
For most, vegetables are a necessary evil. Our general distaste for them may have begun at an early age when we weren’t allowed to leave the table until we finished our vegetables. Although I enjoy vegetables, I realized that I’d fallen into a predicable pattern when it comes to my palate opting for my safe and predicable standards like spinach, broccoli, mixed greens and cucumbers. Last month I decided to be more adventurous and took a stab at kale. Before I scare you away completely, check out this superhero of the cruciferous kingdom.
What the Kale is it?
Kale is a form of cabbage with a leafier look and a curlier appearance. Because of its texture, it is easy to incorporate and even disguise, if necessary, into your daily diet. Here’s what makes kale a king in the vegetable family:
- Nutrient Dense — an excellent source of vitamin A, calcium, folic acid, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese and potassium. In fact, Kale has more calcium, calorie for calorie, than a glass of milk.
- Carotenoids — loaded with lutein and zeaxathin which protect the eyes from damaging UV rays.
- Detox Benefits — a high fiber content and sulfur (called sulphoraphane) help to balance the digestive system and support liver health. Interestingly, sulphoraphane has been shown in research to help boost detox enzymes which may in turn alter gene expression helping the body rid itself of carcinogens.
- Anti-Inflammatory — rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation and may help reduce symptoms of asthma, arthritis and autoimmune diseases.
Venturing into new veggie territory doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are five ways to add this great superfood into your day:
- Go Green — think of it as a healthy version of a shamrock shake by adding a handful of raw kale to your morning protein shake or smoothie.
- Stir It Up — chop up raw kale and add it to an omelet or sauteed with other vegetables.
- Layer It In — since kale has a dense consistency, you can layer it into a lasagna or even replace the lasagna pasta noodles for a low carb version.
- Simmer It Down — cooked kale has very little flavor and tends to take on the flavor of the dish it is in. Add it to soup to boost nutrient and fiber levels.
- Crisp It Up — my newly discovered favorite way to eat kale is to make kale chips. Spread raw kale on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil or grape seed oil, add your favorite spices (mine are onion and garlic powder) including some cayenne or chipolte for a little zip, then bake in the oven on very low heat (120–150°F) for 40–50 minutes to evaporate the liquid. You can eat handfuls of it in place of potato chips or sprinkle it on salads for a crunchy, low carb alternative to croutons. Trust me, its outrageously good!
No matter how you slice or dice it, kale is a nutritional powerhouse. While I can’t guarantee Popeye-like guns or a palladium detox, adding kale can be your next great nutritional adventure. And if you happen to have a great recipe from “back in the day,” be sure to pass it along for the next generation of super humans!
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“”I yam what I yam.” Popeye the Sailor Man
Copyright © 2013 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.