Another great bunch of veggies in this week’s CSA basket!
- Beet greens
- Garlic scapes (the last week of the season!!! Yep, a really short season)
- Snap peas
- Lettuce (This week is Red Sails)
- Gai Lan
- Radishes (multicoloured)
What is it? Kale is a dark green, red or purple leafy vegetable in the Brassica family, along with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. There are many varieties of kale, each with their own unique characteristics.
The dark green kale is the Lacinato, or Dinosaur kale, the curly one is Winterbor, and the leafy flat looking one in the back is Russian Red kale.
What is the nutritional value? Kale is a diamond in the green ruffage. Consuming it may reduce the risk of developing eye disease, heart disease and some cancers. It is a good source of fibre, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, Carotenoids (Beta Carotene, Lutein and Zeaxanthin) and Calcium.
Besides the high amount of antioxidants in this wonder vegetable, one feature that makes kale such a nutritional powerhouse is the fact that is is low in oxalic acid: a compound found in food that if in high concentration, will prevent calcium from absorbing in our bodies. The oxalic acid binds to calcium before it has a chance to absorb, and is excreted. Some people are prone to accumulating this oxalic acid-calcium compound in their kidneys, and it may cause painful kidney stones in these individuals.
Kale is remarkably low in oxalic acid compared to it’s nutritious counterparts like spinach, which is great news for people who eat a ton of greens and are concerned with not getting enough calcium or are prone to getting kidney stones.
The foods highest in oxalic acid (over 100mg in 100g serving) are: Rhubarb, nuts, starfruit, chocolate, beets, spinach, soy and wheat bran.
**NOTE** Foods high in oxalic acid, such as the ones above, provide many other health benefits, and should not be avoided if you have osteoporosis! Talk to your doctor if you have had kidney stones before changing your diet, as excluding these foods may not outweigh the benefits from eating these nutritious foods. Eating these foods in moderation is generally recommended, but it depends on individual circumstances.
What do I do with it? Kale can be eaten raw or cooked and can be prepared in many ways. In salads or wraps, it can be eaten raw or it can be massaged with lemon juice and salt to soften it, and eaten in a salad. I plan on making my bunch into a massaged kale caesar salad for an antioxidant boost! A great recipe for Massaged Kale Greek Chicken Salad can be found at my Mom’s blog- More than Burnt Toast.
Cooked, one of my favourite ways of making it is to sauté julienned kale with sliced leeks, tahini, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and chilli. You can also add it to pasta, soup or stir fry as you would with spinach or Swiss Chard.
I have become addicted to the traditional Portuguese soup Caldo Verde, and have developed my own recipe with my fiancé. This recipe is also in my cookbook, Growing Eden, a cookbook, so here is a little sneak peak!
1 bunch kale, very thinly sliced 1 bunch
6 potatoes, peeled and chopped 6
1 onion, chopped finely 1
6 cloves garlic, chopped finely 6 cloves
2 chorizo, sliced thinly 2
2 L water 2 L
2 T olive oil 30 mL
to taste salt and pepper to taste
- In a large stock pot sweat onion and garlic.
- Add potatoes and water and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Use a hand blended to puree the soup.
- Add chorizo and kale. Cook until kale turns bright green.
- Season to taste.
Makes 4 servings.
Branco, P. and Sine, E. (2012). Caldo Verde. Personal Recipe.