If you are a human who eats, chances are you’ve seen the word “kale” recently. A lot.
Our current “it” food, kale is popping up on recipe blogs, in food magazines and as a menu staple at dining establishments across the country. Fortunately for the uninitiated, we’re here to tell you just exactly what kale is and what you should be doing with it in the kitchen.
Leafy green kale is a member of the Brassica family, alongside more commonly known veggies like broccoli and cabbage. Kale’s dark green color immediately signals its status as a vitamin-packed powerhouse. Among other things, it contains protein, fiber, iron, calcium, potassium and vitamins A, K and C. This potent mix of nutrients results in a food that has been shown to improve heart health, lower cholesterol, reduce risk of certain cancers and improve digestion.
There’s more good news in addition to kale’s many health benefits: it’s incredibly versatile. It’s hard to find a food that can be used in soups or salads, eaten as a side dish or snack, and even consumed as a smoothie.
If you want to feature kale in your main dish, try this braised chicken or farfalle with sausage, cannellini beans and kale. To stay warm on a cold day, make a pot of white bean soup with kale. And if you are looking for lighter fare, whip up a Southwestern kale salad, accompanied by a berry smoothie that sneakily includes — you guessed it — kale leaves.
You can also dip your toe in the proverbial kale pool by purchasing kale chips — found in either the health or chip aisles of your grocery store, depending on where you shop.