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Kale Part II: How to Make it First-String Status in Your Diet

10.23.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

Jane Jakubczak MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN; Washington Redskins Team Dietitian

I hope you enjoyed learning about the All-Star veggie known as kale last week. Thanks so much to all the WOW members who offered encouragement and advice on how they enjoy kale! I wa quite inspired by your enthusiasm Click here and scroll to the bottom to check out last week's reader comments!

As promised I will share how to purchase, prepare and enjoy this powerhouse of nutrients. Many of my clients, including Redskins Players (especially the rookies) admit they don’t eat certain vegetables because they don’t know what to do with them. I have to admit, I did not grow up eating cooked greens so I was a little lost myself.

The following is what I learned to help me, and hopefully you too, to incorporate kale into my diet easily, deliciously and with nutrients intact!

PURCHASE:
• Finding kale has become much easier since earning its pop-status over the past year. Most grocery stores have pre-washed bags of kale in the produce section, the same location as Salad-in-a-Bag and Bagged Spinach
• You can also find kale at Farmers Markets at this time of year because Kale is a fall season vegetable. It’s fun to talk to the farmers who grow and sell the kale because they often have interesting suggestions on how to enjoy their prize crop. Click here to find a Farmers Market in your area.
• When selecting kale look for the young, small leaves. They tend to be less bitter.

PREPARE:
• Store unwashed kale in a plastic bag in the coolest part of refrigerator for up to one week. If you have already washed the leaves, remove excess water and gently wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel. If purchased pre-washed you can simply keep the unused leaves in the bag.
• Wash kale thoroughly immediately before use.
• Kale tends to be tough and bitter in the raw state so I suggest cooking it for best enjoyment. Don’t forget to cut out the center stem, it can be very hard to digest and may cause abdominal distress.

ENJOY!
• If you prefer to enjoy kale in the raw state, marinate for 2-3 hours to soften the tough texture. I like to use a Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette for marinating.
• Steam, sauté or stir-fry kale. As with any vegetable, avoid over cooking. Fruit and vegetables lose more nutrients the longer they are exposed to heat.
• Bake kale for a deliciously crisp snack. (See recipe link below)
• After cutting out center stem, chop leaves into strips and add to chili, soups, spaghetti sauce, stir-fry, quesadillas, and I love the suggestion to add to eggs (see blog comments last week) or anywhere you would add spinach.

* Bonus hint: I steam most of my vegetables and use the water (which absorbs the nutrients lost in the steaming process) to make my rice, quinoa and barley. You can also use the left over water from steaming as homemade vegetable stock in soups, stews and chili. Think of it as homemade vitamin water!

RECIPES:
Basics: foodnetwork.com
Kale chips: allrecipes.com/recipe/baked-kale-chips/ 
Garlicky Kale: allrecipes.com/recipe/garlic-kale/
Kale for dinner: 10 Healthy Kale Recipes from Real Simple
Kale for dessert: loveveggiesandyoga.com/2011/04/chocolate-coconut-kale-chips.html

Thanks again to the WOW members who offered suggestions and recipes last week! I would love to hear from more WOW members about how you are incorporating Kale into your diets.

I will let you all know how my Kale chips turn out this weekend, I think I will add them to my tailgate fare this weekend. Go Skins!

Make it a Healthy Week!
Jane

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