Kale the Grand Daddy of the Greens


In terms of healthy foods, kale is most definitely one of the big guns. Despite its mild, slightly sweet flavour, it is the grand-daddy of the brassica family, which also includes spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, silverbeet, beetroot and cabbage.

It is a very old vegetable and is recorded as having been used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. There are hundreds of varieties of kale, from little round purple ornamental varieties to the giant Chou Moullier or 'cow's kale' which can grow several metres tall and has huge, round leaves.



Kale is absolutely packed with nutrients including a broad spectrum of antioxidants such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, which boost DNA repair in cells, thereby blocking the growth of cancer cells. It is also extremely high in zeaxanthin, lutein, vitamin K (important for healthy blood clotting and wound healing), vitamin C and beta carotene and is one of the better vegetable sources of calcium. Gardening Australia's Peter Cundall swore by it as a key to health and vitality, and considering how outrageously healthy he was looking and sounding when he retired from the show at 80 years old, I'm inclined to believe him!
As well as being very good for you, kale is extremely versatile. It is delicious cooked or raw, and can be substituted for virtually any other leaf vegetable in all kinds of recipes. I love it in stir-fries, pasta sauces, pastries, quiches, salads, omelettes, sandwiches, on top of pizzas and even added to homemade juice (you can't really taste it but it adds a whole lot of nutritional value). It does not cook away to nothing like spinach or other greens can tend to, because its moisture content isn't as high as most other leaf vegetables. This means that you get more nutrition by weight and a bit more bang for your buck. It also keeps well and freezes beautifully.

So, as well as being extraordinarily nutritious, kale is versatile and delicious and well worth a place in your cooking arsenal. I couldn't live without it!

Article by Elise Ruthenbeck