Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quick Fix in my Kitchen: Kale (the latest Super Food)

"Life begins the day you plant a garden"
~~ Chinese Proverb

Egg, Cheese, and Kale Fajita

Kale (or borecole) is a form of cabbage, in which the central leaves do not form a head.
It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. Kale contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties. Boiling reduces the level of the anti-cancer compounds; however, steaming, microwaving, or stir frying do not result in significant loss. It is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. Kale is also a good source of carotenoids.

I am starting to work on my vegetable garden, just clearing, adding compost, and mostly dreaming.  My Kale plant has survived the winter, and is still going strong, so I picked some of it for my lunch. Luckily, today I only had to prepare lunch for me, but I always try to make a special time and setting at mealtimes, even if it is just ME. By the middle of the day after all of the outside shoveling and work, I was quite famished, but kept in mind that I am trying to watch my cholesterol and diet.
Kale is SO Nutritious! And Simple to grow! I virtually threw seeds in the dirt and ignored it the whole summer, except when I cut leaves off to cook and eat. Below are some facts about Kale, and the advantages of eating it.

Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. Curly leafed varieties of cabbage already existed along with flat leafed varieties in Greece in the fourth century BC. These forms, which were referred to by the Romans as "Sabellian kale," are considered to be the ancestors of modern kales. Today one may differentiate between varieties according to the low, intermediate, or high length of the stem, with varying leaf types. The leaf colors range from light green through green, dark green and violet-green to violet-brown. Russian kale was introduced into Canada (and then into the U.S.) by Russian traders in the 19th century.

Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and more flavourful after being exposed to a frost. Tender kale greens can provide an intense addition to salads, particularly when combined with other such strongly-flavored ingredients as dry-roasted peanuts, roasted almonds, red pepper flakes, or an Asian-style dressing.

A traditional Portuguese soup, "caldo verde," combines pureed potatoes, diced kale, olive oil, broth, and, generally, sliced cooked spicy sausage. Under the name of couve, kale is also popular in Brazil, in caldo verde, or as a vegetable dish, often cooked with carne seca (shredded dried beef). When chopped and stir-fried, couve accompanies Brazil's national dish, feijoada.

Making my lunch:  Eggs and Cheese with Kale and Vegetables

In Ireland kale is mixed with mashed potatoes to make the traditional dish colcannon.
 It is popular on Halloween when it is sometimes served with sausages.
Small coins are sometimes hidden inside as prizes.

During World War II, the cultivation of kale in the U.K. was encouraged
by the Dig for Victory campaign.
The vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients
to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of rationing.
Plan to buy some Kale seeds and throw them in your dirt next spring.
You'll be glad you did!

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