Even if I didn't know about its nutritional value, kale is one of those vegetables that I'd be happy to eat every day for the rest of my life; it's my deserted island food (that and nutritional yeast.) Not only is it packed with nutrients, but it's so delicious! And, kale works as a nice vehicle for other spices and flavors you want to add to it.
Here's an interesting fact... kale is cousins with cabbage, Brussel's sprouts, and collard greens. They're all members of the Brassica family of vegetables.
There are several different varieties of it, but the most common types are regular green and red curly kale, and dinosaur or lacinato kale, which has long dark blue-green leaves and a slightly sweeter flavor.
Not only can you eat kale in numerous ways, it's insanely good for you. It's loaded with vitamins K, A, and C, and is very high in manganese, fiber, calcium, vitamin B6, and potassium, and good levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
This means that eating kale can help reduce inflammation in your body, and it works as an antioxidant to ward off illnesses, lower blood pressure, and clear out free radicals. It can help keep your bones nice and strong, jump start your nervous system, and even help to prevent cancer.
If you've been a vegan for awhile you've certainly heard about people changing their diet to prevent or cure degenerative diseases like the big C word. In the case of dark leafy greens, you're helping to prevent bladder, gastric, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate cancer.
Because of its high levels of dietary fiber, kale helps clean out your digestive tract, lower your cholesterol levels, and detoxify your body. If cholesterol-laden foods and cardiovascular health are the x and y axis on a chart, the lower your intake of cholesterol-packed foods, the higher your cardiovascular health. Eating kale is a good way to encourage your cardiovascular system into good health.
As with most vegetables, there are an endless variety of known and rare kales on the planet, but we tend to see just a few varieties at our grocery stores. If you get a chance to try different types of kale grown locally at your farmers' markets, I definitely recommend branching out and testing the different flavors.
Some of the harder to find varieties include Scotch curled types like Winterbor and Redbor and Napus types like White Russian and Winter Red.
Kale survives the best in the fall and spring, right before and after the winter freezes, which can often sweeten the leaves and make them better. I highly recommend you pick a locally grown, organic variety rather than choosing some of the rougher, less tasty versions you can find in many supermarkets.
When you're picking kale at the market, make sure there are no yellow or brown or wilted leaves. You can store kale in a plastic bag in your fridge for up to a week, but the sooner the better because greens rapidly lose their flavor and health benefits after they're picked.
Eat up and enjoy the delicious kale nutrition!