Tuesday, April 8, 2014

5 Reason to Grow & 10 Ways to Eat KALE

It's the first week of April and I already have harvested enough kale to last my family and two other friends for a week.
Why  kale:
1. It's very easy to grow.  Kale can grow through the winter in mild winters - like the ones that we have here in Washington.  Plant it in the fall and then it will be poppin' by early spring.
2. It's super nutritious.  Kale is touted as a superfood in numerous nutrition publication and by nutritionists the world over.
3. It's versatile.  I use kale in different ways for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
4. It's pretty.  People buy ornamental kale to decorate their yards, but I think that even the edible kinds are pretty and it's nice to see some green in the fall and early spring, when nothing else is really growing quite yet.  It comes in different varieties with various types of leaves and coloring.
5. It's yummy.  My husband would probably debate me on this, but I love kale.  It has a bit more flavor, in my opinion, than lettuce.  If it is prepared correctly it is delicious and my two and five-year old will eat almost all of the stuff below enthusiastically.

Kale can, at least in Washington, last through the winter.  I actually planted this kale last September, as the season was winding down here and it grew (albeit very slowly) over the entire winter.  Once the warmer weather of spring hit, it was in full glory and I have been eyeing it hungrily for a couple of weeks now.
One of the main question I get about this vegetable is what to do with it.
A note on all of these ideas: I trim out the tough middle part of the kale and just use the leafy section, unless otherwise noted.
So here is my list of ways that I use this superfood:
1. In a smoothie:
 There are endless possibilites, but for this one I used frozen mango, fresh kale, strawberries, and rice milk.
 Mix them in the blender and wahlah!!!  Delicious.  My kids will drink this straight, but they also like it mixed in with some homemade granola - yummy!!!

2. In an omelet/scramble:
 This morning I used kale, cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic, bell pepper, eggs and havarti cheese.  I chopped everything up.
 First I stirfried the onions, garlic and pepper in a little olive oil - just until the onions were translucent.
 Next, I added the kale and tomatoes, but I only stirfried those for a quick minute.
 I added a little sea salt, then I removed everything from the pan and  stirred my eggs.
 I poured the eggs into the pan and let them cook a bit before I added some cheese.  Next, I added back in all the vegis - which overpowered the eggs at this point.  Here I could have folded the egg in half to create an omelet after having let it set up a bit, but my kids were eating too and they prefer scrambles, so I just scrambled it and added some fresh ground pepper.
 I was shocked, but my five-year-old (he's the picky eater) loved it and my two-year-old ate his plate clean (not a surprise).

3. In quiche:
 Ingredients: Kale, Onions, salt, pepper, garlic, tomato, eggs, cheese, olive oil, milk
 Chop and stir-fry your onions and garlic in a little bit of olive oil - apx. 5 min.
 Add kale.
 Add salt.
 Add pepper.  Stir fry for another 5 min.
 Add shredded carrots and diced tomatoes.  Stir fry another 5 min.
 Beat 5 eggs.
 Add 3/4 c milk.
 Add 1 c. - ish cheese.
 Add vegetables from pan.
 Coat a 9" pie tin with olive oil, and pout mixture in.  Bake at 350 for apx. 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
This is delicious.  A hit with my whole family.
4. As a salad:
 Here are my ingredients: fresh kale, cucumber, avocado, bell pepper, carrots and an apple for the side.
Yummy!!!  Add some dressing and you have a meal.  Again, the possibilities are endless.  I just usually use whatever jumps out at me when I open the fridge for my salads.
5. In a couscous or quinoa salad:
 I started by cooking my couscous according to the package directions and stir frying some random vegetables - in this case, zucchini, carrots, bell pepper, onion and garlic.
 Next I added the magic ingredient: kale
 That didn't need to cook for very long - just until it turned a gorgeous, dark green.
 I combined the couscous with the kale/vegetable mixture and I was done.  Delicious.

6. In place of rice with lentils/stirfry/ etc.:
7. In fried rice:
Here is a link to a fried rice recipe that you can build from: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Egg-Fried-Rice/.  I use this more as a guide than anything.  I usually have some pre-made rice from a recipe earlier in the week and I use that rather than making the rice on the spot.  I also add whatever jumps out at me in the fridge and in this case, I am adding some fresh kale to the mix.  This is a great way to sneak some kale into my kids' diets.
In these pictures, I am just adding some kale to fried rice I made over the weekend.  my fried rice had red bell peppers, zucchini, corn, onions and garlic in it and today I have more kale to deal with, so I am adding that to the mix as well.

 I always add the kale last, because it takes the least amount of time to cook and it tastes best just barely cooked - I usually pull it as soon as I see it turning a dark green.
I added some apples and cucumber slices and dinner (plus some left-overs) was served.
8. On a burger/sandwich in place of lettuce:
 The other thing that has picked up now that spring has finally sprung is egg production.  Here are the ingredients in my egg salad sandwich: celery seeds, Vegenaise, sprouted wheat bread, canned sweet relish from last year's stores, eggs, and (of course) kale.  Make certain to remove the stems up the middle on this one in particular and you will have a delicious lunch.

9. As a side: stir fry with salt and pepper
10. As a chip:
 This is so easy, just kale, salt, and EVOO.
 De-rib the kale, chop it into 2"ish pieces and place them on a cookie sheet.
 Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
 Add light oil.
 Put it in the oven at 275 for 20 minutes - turn the chips half way through.
 And wahlah: a DE-LIC-IOUS snack.

11.  As a garnish
I have to add that I went out to eat with my sister in the midst of this kale craziness and, even there, I could not escape this prolific vegetable.  They have kale and goat cheese tart and macaroni and cheese with kale and corn - I tried the later and it was DELICIOUS.  I took a picture just for another kale idea:

If you still have more kale than you can use: check out my post on how to save it for the winter: http://roselynrobison.blogspot.com/2014/06/preserving-kale-chard-and-spinach.html.

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