My new favourite vegetable is Kale: Brassica oleracea var acephala. I like the name Kale better - much easier to say.
For some reason Kale isn't very common in New Zealand. I haven't seen it sold in conventional supermarkets, or standard fruit and vegetable shops. I buy mine from a special organic whole food store. I'm not sure why it's not popular here; it is quick and easy to grow.
I'm actually trying to grow my own kale at the moment, only one lone shoot out of twelve I planted two weeks ago.
|Grow little kale, grow!!|
Kale is thought to be the first cultivated brassica. It is regarded a superfood; one cup of steamed kale has more than enough vitamin A and vitamin K for an adult for the day. It also contains considerable amounts of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fibre. Anti-oxidants such as lutein and beta-carotene are found in kale; they protect our body from oxidative stress and health problems related to oxidative stress. Of these anti-oxidants, lutein in particular is important for eye health and helps prevent or slow down development of age related macular degeneration and cataract.
One thing to watch out for if you eat a lot of kale is oxalates. If they become too concentrated they can crystallize in the body and cause kidney and gallstones. I did read that asparagus contains asparagine which helps break down oxalates, so really it's a matter of a balanced diet of different fruit and vegetables and not having too much of one thing.
Kale can be stored for two to three weeks in the refridgerator and freezes well, however it is best used within a week. The longer it is stored, the more bitter its flavour becomes. I usually purchase 2-3 bags and use it every day in salads and smoothies and it is usually used within a week. I have my own hopping greedy compost maker aka Daisy that will eat the tough stalks that I don't use on the curly kale, so there is no wastage.
I like Kale because it's more fibrous and holds it's shape well when cooked; I use it to replace spinach in a lot of recipes. I do like spinach, but I get a whole bag of it from the store and it cooks down to the size of a tennis ball. It also makes my teeth feel funny after eating it (weird I know). Kale barely shrinks if you lightly steam it and my teeth feel normal after eating it.
Some ways I enjoy kale:
Sauteed with garlic, onion, vegetable stock
In smoothies or "green monsters". I usually use about 10-15 leaves.
Lightly steamed and tossed in salads
Chopped and steamed then tossed with pine nuts and feta cheese
If you have not tried this vegetable yet, go get some kale today!