Monday, 19 August 2013

Kale - Man's new best friend?

Like all industries, food has its own celebrities, and ‘hot new things to try’. One year it’s the Atkins diet, the next year its seaweed, and this year it seems that Kale is the new thing to try. Celebrity chefs and dietitians appear delighted with its versatility, taste and nutritional content, but what is it?
Kale, also known as Curly Kale is a cruciferous vegetable and part of the cabbage family. But for those who aren’t cabbage lovers don’t let that put you off. Grown largely by British farmers, it is available from June right through until March, with October giving off the best crop.

So why is it so great?

Pound for pound, Kale is a highly nutritious vegetable, and whilst also being highly versatile in cooking, it can create flavourful main or side dishes. But if that isn’t enough, here are a few other reasons why to use it. 

1.       1 portion of Kale (80g) contains around 120mg of Calcium – this is more than in 100g of milk. So for those following a vegan, dairy free or low fat diet, this can be an excellent way to get in that extra calcium you need. Also, for those who suffer from conditions that require extra calcium, such as osteoporosis, adding this in once a day could make a big difference

2.       Kale is an excellent source of folate – folate, or folic acid, is very important in pregnant women, and women who are trying to get pregnant. It also plays an important role in the normal formation of blood and supports the immune system.

3.       Gram for gram Kale contains 17 times more vitamin C than carrots – vitamin C is important in healthy immune system function and the formation of collagen for healthy blood vessels, bone, cartilage, gums, skin and teeth

4.       Kale is a great source of fibre – kale provides 2g of fibre for every 100g consumed, and that’s once it’s boiled. Our recommended daily intake of fibre is 25g, and in today’s modern dietary culture, many people miss that target. Increasing the risk of certain cancers.

5.       Kale is good for the eyes – Kale is rich in lutein, an anti-oxidant proven to aid in keeping the eyes healthy. Our recommended intake of lutein in 6-10mg, kale provides 7.6mg per 100g compared to broccoli which only provides 1.7mg.

6.       Great to help keep skin, nails and hair strong – Kale is a good source of Vitamin A containing 448µg per 80g cooked of Kale, which is vital in keeping skin, nails and hair healthy.

7.       Good for weight maintenance – so on top of all this, Kale is also good for keeping your weight down. It’s nutritious, rich in fibre and also low in fat and calories. So to fill you up at mealtimes and add in some good nutrition, without the fat, this is the way to go.

Recipe time!

This recipe has been taken from BBC Good Food website, an excellent source for recipes you can tweak to your own preferences. This recipe is easy to prepare, incredibly healthy and delicious. It’s also suitable for vegetarians!

Spaghetti with caramelized onion, kale & Gorgonzola

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large red onions, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. chopped thyme leaf
  • large pinch chilli flakes
  • 75ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 400g whole wheat spaghetti
  • 200g kale, chopped
  • 100g gorgonzola, crumbled

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onions, thyme and some seasoning. Sauté for 10 minutes until softened, then add the chilli flakes, vinegar, sugar and stock. Increase the heat and cook for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a large pan of water, add some salt and cook the spaghetti following pack instructions, adding the kale for the final 4 minutes of cooking. Drain and return to the pot with a little of the cooking water. Tip in the onion mixture and half the cheese, and toss together. Serve topped with the remaining cheese.


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