Kale, the King of the Greens – Leafy Green Kale That is
By Joan McDaniel July 26, 2013
When I first started my search for healthy food to eat that would help restore my immune system and get me get back to wellness, I knew I would have to be looking at natural foods. Natural foods that would provide micronutrients (minerals, vitamins, and essential fats), which would include a massive increase in eating fruits and vegetables. Mostly green vegetables I either grew myself or would buy from the local farmers market.
I could easily grow lettuce. I took a quick look at lettuce and remembered I loved Romaine and Leaf (red or green). Both were rich in vitamins and would provide an excellent base for a summer of salads. I found starters of both varieties and put them in the dirt in my back yard. A lot of water and watching and in a few weeks, I had lettuce. Every night I had fresh lettuce. The lettuce grew well into summer then turned bitter from the heat which is normal. They like the weather to be cool.
I continued my research into other sources of food and found the term super food used by Naturopathic and holistic nutritionist and natural medicine physicians and researchers. It means Foods that have an incredible array of health benefits that go well beyond just their nutrient value. These foods are made in nature and not processed by man. They are typically loaded with a combination of critical fatty acids, anti-oxidant phytonutrients and essential amino acids. They are low in sugar and high in fiber content, vitamins and minerals.
So far the super foods I have covered are the:
- Berry (blueberry, raspberry, etc.)
- Nut (Walnut, Almond, etc.)
- Salmon – wild caught
- And now Kale.
When I was first getting started in my continued research, I found a very motivating Video by Terry L. Wahls, M.D, Dr. Terry Wahls Reversed her MS with diet. Even though I had nothing as debilitating as MS I could identify with loss of local motion. I knew she was right in the use of diet to get well.
In that video (Search this site) https://coconutcreamcare.com/2012/08/17/dr-terry-wahls-reversed-her-ms-with-diet/
I have found her website where she has made available more information on what she is calling the Wahls Protocol™,
she talks about Food she ate to get out of her wheelchair and walk again. She is battling and overcoming secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) a feat which is almost unheard of. That is where I first heard of the Leafy Green vegetable called Kale.
Nice looking, put with my current addiction for a high carb sugar rich diet, this didn’t look like something I’d eat. I certainly admired Dr. Wahls and her major accomplishment, but she wasn’t going to get me to eat Kale – I don’t care how weak I was. Dr. Wahls had fueled her body with a food plan that included Iodine and 3 dinner plates or 3 cups of greens one being a dinner plate of kale.
Maybe some other kind of animal in the animal kingdom could eat that green stuff, but not me. I would think about it later. Kale looked like something my puppy had played with and I would have to throw out not eat. “Besides, there are plenty of other healthy greens and some in my own back yard.” I said. Green Vegetables are the source of the good carb and are rich in vitamins. Eating meals that consists mostly of greens has to be better than the bad grain carbs I had been eating.
Leafy Green Vegetables
To view another more complete display of the different types of lettuce click this link
Leafy greens (Lettuce) are the edible leaves of certain plants, mostly though not always dark green in color. And of you really want to add to the mix have you ever heard of the term Bitter Greens? What are bitter Greens click and find out.
List of Green Leafy Vegetables:
I have compiled a list of what I will classify as Green Leafy Vegetables:
Bitter greens might also be considered “winter greens”. That’s because most greens are “cool-weather vegetables” – that means their growing season ends when the weather gets warm.
Anise, Arugula (Rocket/Rucola), Beet Greens, Bibb or Boston or Butterhead, Bok Choy (Tatsoi), Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) Cabbage, Chicory (Puntarelle), Collard Greens, Cos (Romaine), Curly Endive (Frisee), Dandelion Greens, Endive, Escarole, Iceberg(crisphead), Kale, Leaf (red or green), Lemon Grass, Miscluna, Mustard Greens, NAPA, Radicchio, Romaine, Sesame Leaves, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Turnip Greens, and Watercress to name a few.
The Season had changed, the garden was over and Winter was here.
The temperature began to drop, the season was changing, and the garden was wilting. With winter approaching, the diet needed to be winterized. In my town we had an indoor Farmers Market. I attended and had a few conversations with the farmer and began to warm a little to Kale. He was selling his Kale that was still growing in the snow. I bought some and began to try it. I tried some and was pleasantly surprised. It is easy to prepare, versatile, and delicious.
I first cooked it in my soups and dishes than began to use kale as a wrap. Instead of bread I would eat raw Kale. Even an omelet got the Kale treatment. And if worse came to worse I could always add a pinch of Stevia.
This year my neighbor had a large supply of Kale starters. She gave me a large supply and I planted it. It is amazingly easy to grow just put it in the ground. As it grew, I stood there looking at it. Kale fresh from the garden is sweeter than even what I had gotten from the winter’s farmers market.
Thank Goodness I had Kale in the Garden
It is a long story but thank goodness I had the Kale for my health began to decline again with sever muscle pain. Climbing stairs became almost forbidden and I live in a house with stairs. I have found the reason to be I had a systemic Yeast infection called Candida. More on that later but I began to eat Kale with just about everything as major part of my detox. Kale help me get rid of the toxins that had been in my body for over 30 years. I am happy to report the PAIN IS GONE and I now eat Kale at least once a day.
Ornamental kale – Also known as Savoy Salad – Even Ornamental kale can be eaten.
Kale has been referred to as not only a superfood but one of the seven most nutrient dense foods on Earth . It packs more nutrients or antioxidants per bite than most other foods. It is used in major detox and anti-cancer programs. It is a main support for the immune system.
Kale provides numerous health benefits including:
- Antioxidant properties to help stop oxidative stress
- Anti-inflammatory benefits helps stop inflammation
- Lowers risk for cancer
- Cardiovascular support
- Provides support for the body’s detoxification. (Releasing toxins)
- High source of Fiber
- 45 different flavonoids
- Good Omega-3 and 6 ratio
- sulfur-containing phytonutrients
- Source for minerals and vitamins like: amino acids, antioxidant flavonoids, calcium, copper , folic acid, iron, lutein, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E, K (anti-inflammatory).
For more details on kale’s health benefits, see this section of our kale write-up.
The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around. Although it can be found in markets throughout the year, it is in season from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring when it has a sweeter taste and is more widely available.
Kale is a Cruciferous vegetable
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, also called Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, mustard greens, radish, and turnip.
The scientific name for kale is Brassica oleracea. Kale as are cruciferous vegetables are from the original Paleo Diet.
Paleolithic diet or Paleo Diet – Also known as the caveman diet, stone age diet or hunter-gatherer diet, is based on the assumption that human beings should be eating the foods that our ancient ancestors ate, because that is the diet that we were genetically designed to eat.
Cruciferous vegetables are a descendent of the wild cabbage, a plant thought to have originated in Asia Minor and to have been brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by groups of Celtic wanderers. Curly kale played an important role in early European foodways, having been a significant crop during ancient Roman times and a popular vegetable eaten by peasants in the Middle Ages. English settlers brought kale to the United States in the 17th century.
Varieties of Kale
There are several varieties of kale; these include curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (or Lacinato or Tuscan) kale, all of which differ in taste, texture, and appearance. Both ornamental and dinosaur kale are much more recent varieties. Dinosaur kale was discovered in Italy in the late 19th century. Ornamental kale, originally a decorative garden plant, was first cultivated commercially as in the 1980s in California. Ornamental kale is now better known by the name salad savoy.
Like many other greens, kale is descended from a wild cabbage thought to have originated in Asia Minor, now Turkey. During World War II, the cultivation of kale in the UK was encouraged because it was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of food rationing.
Kale’s popularity is a result of its versatility, flavor, and high nutritional content. Considered to be the workhorse of the fall and winter garden, kale is extremely cold tolerant. In most places, it can be harvested all winter, from beneath snow or row cover and certainly from a low tunnel or high tunnel. Plant it abundantly to ensure a long harvest, as new growth will diminish as the days get shorter in the fall.
Kale varies in appearance by variety so much that it almost looks like different vegetables. Winterbor, the most cold-hardy variety, is green and curly. Toscano has long, thin, heavily blistered leaves of dark green. Red Russian has flat, bluish green leaves and purple stems.
Mixed kale bunches are attractive on display, and are a great way to encourage people to try the different types. Combining Winterbor with the less bulky Toscano makes a nice full bunch; including a little Red Russian adds color and a different texture.
Standard dark green, curled kale.
The plants are tall, growing up to 2-3 ft., with excellent yield and better cold hardiness. Leaves are well-curled, blue-green, and ruffled. Vigorous plants will continue growing to produce leaves for successive harvests as the lower leaves are harvested
Tips for adding kale to your diet
Kale demands an acquired taste. But juicing it with carrots and some apple may allow it to go down easily. You can eat kale raw, in a salad, use it as a wrap, or add it to a smoothie. If taste is an issue you can finely mince it and use it as a topping. Kale can be blanched, boiled, braised, sautéed, steamed or stir-fried. People prepare it in a similar manner to chard or collards: season with brown rice or umeboshi vinegar, soy sauce, tamari or sesame oil, to name a few. Substitute for spinach or cabbage in recipes. Kale will It will add color and nutrition to most anything.
Store kale for a week in the crisper, but remember that it gets stronger as it is stored. I take a punch of Kale and put it in its own plastic bag. I add a small amount of water to the bag and put it in the crisper. Kale can be frozen and to store longer, wash, dry, mince or chop and freeze. It thaws quickly and can be used like raw kale.