Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Get to know your veggies--Kale

Kale is a number one nutritious green.  I'll have to admit that I'm not much on cooked greens--story time.....Several years ago...well, about 10 years ago, my family and I were eating supper one night.  Supper was the typical Southern supper which consisted of pinto beans, cornbread, and greens.  Believe me, I've tried to eat cooked greens for years and I really don't like cooked greens, but...anyway, back to the story.  My two sons (young at the time) and their father and I were eating supper, and I announced to all of them that I was 40+ years old, never liked greens, and I thought I was old enough to not have to eat them anymore!  The kids laughed and kept on eating (I was glad for that). 

Kale is a very nutritious green and I have learned to eat it when sauteed lightly and not canned or cooked for hours!  Kale is high in carotenoids, vitamins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and like most veggies, it's low in calories.  Kale also shares all the cancer-fighting properties of the brassica family.

Kale is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the plant from UV damage.  They protect your eyes in similar ways.  Studies show that a lutein-rich diet will reduce your risk of developing age-related eye disorders, such as macular degeneration and cataracts (my former mother-in-law has macular degeneration and it's not fun at all). 

Like its relatives broccoli and cabbage, kale releases  sulforaphane when sliced or chewed.  This stimulates the liver to make enzymes, and these enzymes break down cancer-causing molecules. 

Kale is also loaded with vitamins, especially vitamin K.  This allows the blood to clot and also keeps your bones strong.  Our bodies can't store vitamin K real well, so we need to eat it more often to make sure it's available.  This helps defend against osteoporosis too.  Sidenote:  My great grandmother "Granny Wilds" had a hump on her back and that used to scare me when I was a little girl.  Now I know that osteoporosis caused it and I don't want to be scary to my great-grand kids, if I'm lucky enough to live that long!

Kale also protects your lungs.  Vitamin A protects those exposed to either first-or secondhand smoke from developing diseases like emphysema.  One cup of cooked kale provides more than 300 percent of your recommended daily needs for A. 

Cooking kale releases healthful carotenoids but can also destroy the anticancer properties.  Avoid this by slicing kale, then letting it rest for five minutes.  Then lightly steam the sliced leaves for exactly five minutes.  This is just the right amount of time to release the caretenoids while preserving the other health properties.

Sautee'd kale is great with chicken, rice, pasta, and beef, and probably pork too.  I just add it when I need something "green" to go with supper and kale is around--sautee' and toss; it has a really good flavor!

The "vegucation" info for this article was gleaned from the February/March issue of Organic Gardening.

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