Ever wondered what all the fuss is about? For a while there, people all over the country were sporting t-shirts with “Kale is the new beef” and “Kale, it’s what’s for dinner“.
Ok, well not everyone, but there were many people popping up all over the US wearing t-shirts with Kale on them! Kale certainly is a nutritional powerhouse and is becoming increasingly popular because of that. One cup of chopped kale contains just 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients. Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds. Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
There are a number of different varieties and some of them have multiple names. Many are familiar with Lacinato Kale, which is also known as Tuscan kale, black kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian Kale, Dinosaur Kale, Cavolo Nero, flat back cabbage, palm tree kale or black Tuscan palm. Another popular variety is curly green kale. Don’t forget Red Russian Kale (AKA Red Winter Kale) and Redbor Kale (a red curly kale) and of course ornamental kale whose interior leaves can be found in white, pink, red, lavender, blue or violet. Ornamental kale is just as edible as any other variety.
How do I grow it in a Tower Garden?
Start with some high quality seeds or seedlings and just be patient. I’m not talking root vegetable patience here, just a few weeks. However, no pruning is required. 🙂 About 6 weeks after you transplant your seedlings to your Tower Garden you will be able to harvest it. Simply keep an eye out for pests (aphids tend to like kale, and the occasional worm). Kale thrives in cooler weather but thankfully, due to the Tower Garden technology we grow Kale here at Living Towers year round. In fact, we are one of the only places in Florida that you can purchase locally grown Kale in the summer months.
So what do you do with it?
Harvest it sooner, with smaller more tender leaves and it will have a less bitter flavor than the large store bought stuff that can be quite tough. Eat it raw in salads (massage it with oil), steam it, saute it or add to soups and stews just before serving. However, DO NOT OVER COOK IT!!!! It gets terribly bitter and this is the main reason many don’t like the taste. My favorite way to enjoy kale is with caramelized onions. Cook them low and slow until they are super brown and sweet. Add some chicken (or vegetable stock if you prefer). I make my own and freeze it in ice cube trays. That way I always have as little or as much as I need, depending on how much a recipe calls for. Surely I am not the only one who would open a carton of stock to use a cup and throw the rest away a week or so later??? After adding the stock I then add the kale, stir over medium heat until it has just wilted them immediately remove it from the heat. Remember, it gets bitter if you overcook it… I have often added julienned carrots or sugar snap peas just before the onions are caramelized to change it up a bit. It adds a bit of sweetness.
Anyone taking anticoagulants such as warfarin should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs. Consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet.
Some say raw kale can also interfere with Thyroid function (as can any raw cruciferous vegetable) so consult your doctor if you have or suspect you may be suffering from a Thyroid condition.
So how do you enjoy kale? Share your recipes in the comments.
Want to learn more about the Tower Garden? Give us a call or send us an email. If you purchase a Tower Garden through us before the end of June we will give you 20 seedlings absolutely free, including shipping ($35 value). Not only that but you may attend one of our workshops in Florida without a fee (normally $25 per person). Don’t worry if you are not in Florida, we are here to help you every step of the way!
Check out Epic Gardening’s article on Kale. It’s full of everything you’ve ever wanted to know about this nutritional powerhouse!