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Eating Well with Whole Foods: Kale

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski


With the advent of spring we naturally crave lighter and cleaner foods to help rid our bodies of the excesses stored up throughout the winter. What better way to welcome the season then to enjoy refreshing kale, a natural detoxifier. Kale is at its peak now and has a sweeter taste than at other times of the year. The green leafy vegetable is a member of the Brassica family, and is related to collards, cabbage, and brussel sprouts. Varieties of kale include curly kale, ornamental kale and dinosaur kale, all of which differ in taste, texture, and appearance. Kale played an important role in Ancient Rome and was a popular vegetable enjoyed by peasants in the Middle Ages. English settlers introduced Kale to the United States in the 17th Century.

Kale packs a more nutritional punch for fewer calories than almost any other vegetable. At only 36 calories per cup kale is an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as a terrific source of fiber, iron, calcium, and potassium, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals. The cruciferous vegetable is heralded for its cancer-preventative benefits due to its high level of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and gluco-sinolates (cancer fighting nutrients). Together, these ingredients help reduce oxidative stress and chronic inflammation which are often the precursors of cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, ovarian, and prostrate. A kale-rich diet also helps support the cardiovascular system by decreasing cholesterol. For optimal health benefits integrate two cups of kale into your daily diet. Increasing your serving size from one to two cups will provide a double dose of nutrients while still remaining at under 100 calories.

When shopping for kale, look for fresh, firm leaves with deep hues and strong, moist stems. Avoid kale with browning or wilting leaves. For a more subtle and sweeter taste, opt for those with smaller leaves over larger ones. Kale will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator when stored unwashed in a plastic bag. Kale can be enjoyed in a number of ways. However, to reap the most health benefits from this wonder veggie, chop its leaves and stems, let sit for five minutes and then quick steam. Top with olive oil, lemon juice, nuts, and your favorite spices for a tasty and detoxifying treat.

Quick Steamed Kale

("Daily Detoxifier")

1 pound fresh, organic kale

1 onion, chopped

5 large cloves of garlic, minced

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

2/3 cups of purified water

pinch of sea salt and freshly grounded black pepper

Wash kale. Trim and discard any course parts of the stem. Cut leaves into ½-inch slices and stems into ¼-inch slices. Let sit for 5 minutes or more to bring out kale’s health-promoting properties. Sauté onions and olive oil in a pan. Add kale, garlic and water. Stir. Steam until bright green and tender, about 10-15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy! Serves 2.

Suzann Pileggi Pawelski is a freelance wellness writer who specializes in the science of happiness and how it affects our health. She is also a certified health coach who works with clients on nourishing their bodies and souls by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. Suzann holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com , or email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com  for a discounted phone consultation.


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