Given my blog name: “The Kale Cookie”, it only seems fit to write a post about the amazing benefits of this leafy green vegetable. If you don’t like kale, this may not be the post for you, but I encourage you to keep reading because I am going to suggest 6 different ways you can add kale into your daily diet plan which may also encourage all those opposed, to try a bite of this beneficial leafy green! The various colors of vegetables indicate different nutritional benefits, so always remember to eat the rainbow! Green leafy vegetables, in particular, are packed with nutrients that will help the body thrive and prevent metabolic diseases.
As a dietitian, I encourage you to eat kale because of its major health benefits. A recent study (Dec 2016) done by Richard Lee Pollock shows a positive correlation between consumption of green leafy vegetables and a reduced risk of cardio vascular disease (CVD). This study found very low diabetes, CVD and cancer rates among individuals who consumed leafy greens daily. Dietitians recommend making half your plate veggies for a reason. Even better, make half your plate GREEN LEAFY VEGGIES!
I often hear people asking about how to cook vegetables, wondering if cooking will strip the vegetable of its benefits. This study answers this universal question by stating that steam cooking green vegetables (collard greens, kale, broccoli, mustard greens, spinach and cabbage) improves bile acid binding capacity, meaning it aids in the utilization of cholesterol throughout the body. The powerful, nutritional agents found in green leafy vegetables have been found to decrease the risk of CVD due to their ability to increase bile acid binding capacity. Green leafy vegetables increase utilization of cholesterol, reducing fat absorption which leads to lower risk of CVD.
Now that you know how leafy greens can improve your health, check out these different ways you can include kale (or replace it with leafy green of choice) in your meals daily.
- Entrées: cook kale and add it to any pasta dish with some chicken and you have yourself a balanced meal. Add lemon to kale when cooking to cut down the bitter taste.
- Salads: Kale makes a great base for your favorite salad recipe, but generally needs a little attention to soften the leaves- giving it a milder taste and softer feel. Remove leaves from the stem and tear into bite-size pieces. Wash and dry the leaves. Once dry, massage the oil into the leaves for about five minutes. My Kale Walnut Salad with a Honey dressing is a great option: Recipe: chop kale and prep as above, chop 1 carrot, 5 mushrooms and add 1/2 cup of walnuts. Dressing: mix 1/4 cup of liquid aminos with 4 tbsp of honey (adjust for preferred sweetness level).
- Smoothies – Add a few stalks of fresh, de-stemmed kale to your breakfast smoothie. Adding it to smoothies is a great idea to get kids to eat more vegetables– they won’t even know it’s in there. (although I agree more with exposing children to actual vegetables instead of trying to hide them). Try mixing 3 or 4 stalks of kale, ½ cup of your favorite milk, ½ cup of frozen mango chunks, and one frozen banana for a tasty and nutritious breakfast or snack idea.3. Juicing – Kale adds a flavor , nutrients and color to any juice. To make a simple carrot apple kale ginger juice, use 10 carrots, 2 small apples, cored, 4 large kale leaves, de-stemmed and 2 quarter-sized chunks of fresh ginger root. This is a great way to get the benefits of kale while adding other vibrant flavors!5. Snacks- Try baking kale in the oven to make a tasty chip! De-stem kale and cut up into pieces the size of a chip. Place kale pieces on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil lightly over raw kale pieces. Sprinkle salt (as desired) over the entire sheet. Place in oven for about 20-25 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Enjoy as a salty Netflix-watching snack or snack to share with family and friends.
Pollock RL. The effect of green leafy and cruciferous vegetable intake on the incidence of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis. JRSM Cardiovascular Disease.2016;5:2048004016661435. doi:10.1177/2048004016661435.