JEFF TIEDEMAN: Kale comes a knockin'Include this healthy cruciferous vegetable in your diet.
One of the things I take pride in is my ability to accept change and try new things.
It wasn’t always like this. And if you were to ask Therese, she’d say I still have a ways to go. But I’m nowhere near as rigid as I used to be.
Gardening is one area, though, where I’ve always been willing to experiment.
This summer, at the suggestion of my good friend, Darrel Koehler, I grew a vegetable that you wouldn’t have found in my dad’s garden — or mine for that matter — kale.
It was the middle of June, several weeks after I’d planted the bulk of my garden, that “The Prairie Gardener” pointed me in the direction of a vegetable sale at a local discount store in East Grand Forks. The vegetable he recommended that I buy was kale. He said the plants at Pamida’s tiny greenhouse weren’t in the greatest shape but if planted right away should flourish by late August or early September. And he assured me that kale takes a hard frost and should continue to grow up until the first snow of fall or winter.
About the only thing I knew about kale was that it was a member of the crucifer family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and widely considered to be among the healthiest foods. (Health experts recommend that at a minimum, you include cruciferous vegetables as part of your diet two to three times per week and make the serving size at least 1½ cups.)
While doing a little recipe research, I discovered that kale, like other leafy, green vegetables, has a high concentration of vitamins A, C and K, folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, lutein and phyochemicals. It’s also a good source of calcium, folic acid, vitamin B6 and manganese and a great source of fiber.
Like its other fellow crucifers, kale has been studied more extensively in relationship to cancer than any other health condition. Its abundance of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer nutrients makes kale a top-notch cancer-fighter. Research on five types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, ovarian and prostate), and intake of crucifers (specifically kale), shows cancer preventive benefits and in some cases, treatment benefits as well.
Kale also can provide some special cholesterol-lowering benefits when steamed for about five minutes. Raw kale still has cholesterol-lowering ability — just not as much. (When steaming kale, let it sit for at least five minutes to enhance its health-promoting qualities before cooking. And to ensure quick and even cooking, cut the leaves into ½-inch slices and the stems into ¼-inch lengths.)
The six plants that I purchased and planted have done quite well, so we have an abundance of kale. Therese has been using it extensively in salads (it’s much milder than we thought it would be) with Swiss chard, beet tops and iceberg lettuce. I’m also looking forward to trying kale in a recipe another friend, Lillian Elsinga, provided. It’s for a casserole that combines kale with potatoes, chicken broth and smoked sausage. (See Wilma Elsinnga’s recipe at www.grandforksherald.com/ event/tag/group /Life/tag/food/.)
A second kale dish I’m considering, and one that is very similar, is colcannon, a traditional Irish dish most commonly associated with St. Patrick’s Day, which also contains mashed potatoes. (A newer and popular version of colcannon substitutes green cabbage for kale.)
Do you have a good recipe for kale recipe?
Shoot it my way. I’ll try anything new.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.