Kale, a leafy green vegetable with a hefty texture and a hearty, earthy taste, is enjoying its moment in the sun – literally, because we’re harvesting plenty of it at Fairgate Farm right now. And figuratively, too, because this healthful vegetable has been cropping up on restaurant menus everywhere!

It’s all good … because kale is tasty, satisfying and super-good for you! It makes a delicious juice (and there’s no green more gorgeous than just-juiced kale) … crunchy and yummy when chopped into a salad … and richly satisfying when steamed or sautéed with oil, garlic and a twist of lemon. It’s worth developing a taste for kale because just one cup of raw kale provides more than 5 grams of fiber and meets the RDA for vitamins A and C. That same cup of kale also contains 134 mg of calcium and just 43 calories.

Kale (like broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts) is a cruciferous vegetable, which means that it produces healthful, cancer-fighting sulforaphane when chopped or chewed. That’s why kale is considered a natural detoxifier that helps to reduce risk of several different kinds of cancer, including breast cancer.

Fresh kale is the best-tasting and healthiest kale. It’s easy to grow (even in containers on a terrace) and is available at farmer’s markets and also, nowadays, at most supermarkets. Look for kale that is bright green, with lots of small leaves (more tender) that are firm to the touch. Don’t buy kale if you see wilting leaves, bruising or discoloration. Always chop off the stems before eating.

Special health tip! Steaming kale amps up its cholesterol-lowering properties. This is because cooking with steam helps the fiber in kale bind with bile acids which are then transported (along with waste products) out of your system.

Other ways to prepare kale:

If your kale isn’t so fresh (i.e., purchased in a supermarket) it’s probably best cooked. After taking off the stems, use the green leaves in soups and stews. Kale is also good in a warm salad (mix it with pine nuts and raisins) or served as a side dish with fish or chicken.

To use kale in salads, cut off and toss the stems out. Slice the leaves into thin strips (kale is tough so doing this makes it easier to chew) and toss with other lettuces, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and a light dressing.

Kale chips are all the craze. You can buy them at natural food stores or in the healthy section of your supermarket or you can make your own. Start by cutting off the stems and cutting the kale leaves into bite-size pieces. Lay these flat on a cookie sheet, spraying or drizzling olive oil on top. Dash sea salt over the chips, then bake til crisp (350 degrees). They’re best when eaten immediately … and who can resist that anyway?

woman_soupFun fact: Until the Middle Ages, people ate more kale than any other vegetable. In fact, “kale” and “soup” were considered synonymous because it was unthinkable to make a pot of soup without this easy-to-grow and healthful vegetable. Farm animals ate lots of kale too!