Delicious, nutritious and cheap

Why You Should Add Kale to Your Diet

by Debra Karplus

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Claimed to be the world's healthiest foods by many medical, diet and food experts, kale, also called borecole, is a food that you should consider to be a staple item in your kitchen, either fresh, frozen or in some other form. There are several good reasons to eat kale, many places to buy it, and lots of delicious ways to prepare and serve kale that are inexpensive and take very little time.

The nutritious value of steamed kale is matched by few other foods.

Steamed kale is considered to have more nutritional value than if eaten raw. It is high in many essential vitamins, mainly Vitamin K, a necessary blood clotting vitamin, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Additionally, it contains important minerals that your body requires, mainly large amounts of manganese, as well as many others such as calcium, potassium, iron and copper.

Many of the health concerns that you read about can be remedied by adding kale to your weekly diet. Kale is high in fiber and low in calories or fats. Steamed kale has properties that lower cholesterol. It also contains flavonoids, anti-oxidants that can help reduce cancer. Inflammation is the root of many chronic diseases such as arthritis; kale has anti-inflammatory properties. Kale is said to help de-toxify the body. For more information about this "queen of greens," check out to be convinced of kale's value in maintaining optimal health.

Kale is easy to grow in your garden and affordable to purchase at the grocery.

So how do you get this perfect food into your kitchen? Kale is easily grown in your garden or even in pots. Kale grows in any season; it is considered to be a cold weather crop and thrives well in shade and in temperatures as low as twenty degrees. Temperatures above eighty degrees will stiffen its leaves, though it is still fine for steaming.

There are many varieties of kale, some with curly leaves and others with plain leaves. It grows easily with minimal care and germinates within 45 to 65 days, depending on the variety. Plant the seeds as early as the ground can be worked, regardless of frost-free dates. Some people prefer to plant the small plants rather than the seeds, but truly, planting rows of seeds will do fine in your garden.

Not everyone enjoys or is able to plant a garden. Kale can be purchased at many farmers' markets, health food, natural food, specialty groceries, and even at many of the larger supermarkets because of its growing popularity. Buy it fresh by the pound in bunches or bagged or look for it in the frozen food section. And if you are looking for a healthier snack, search for kale chips or make your own.

There are many delicious ways to use kale in your kitchen.

Kale is an extremely versatile vegetable. Experts say that kale that is steamed offers more nutritional benefits than in any other form. Make sure it is washed as you would with raw spinach before cooking. Use in casseroles or along with your favorite meat or vegetarian entree. Add your favorite spices to enhance flavor and appearance. Serving kale as part of a stir fry meal is tasty, also.

Raw kale also has some nutritional value, though less than steamed. Garnish your favorite meals with it or make a fresh kale salad. You can include other raw greens like spinach, arugula, or lettuce or let the kale stand on its own. Add other veggies or fruits and top with dressing, homemade or store-bought.

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Though the idea or mental image of a kale smoothie or shake sounds "gross" to many people, once you have tried drinking one you will be convinced to regularly enjoy kale smoothies. There are a variety of recipes online if you search "kale smoothie.". For example, use your blender to puree one half of a cantaloupe, one half cup of orange juice, and three leaves of kale. Or, blend two cups of banana, two cups of orange juice, and one and one half cups of kale, and a quarter cup each of parsley, cilantro and mint.Yum!Experiment with your favorite ingredients and people will rave about your healthy kale smoothies.

If you're like most people, you have never tried kale. Start by purchasing a small amount of fresh kale. Try steaming it and serving with a favorite main course. In no time, you will be hooked on its taste and many uses that you and your family will savor.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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