Kale Salad with Apple | Kale and Banana Smoothie | Kale Chips
Credit: Janet Hudson | Mervi Eskelinen | Kari Sullivan (all 3 photos found on flickr and all are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

When I worked for an ophthalmologist, he recommended that patients with macular degeneration increase their intake of kale and other foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin.[1]

Before I knew more about kale, I used it in a stew. Yet recently, I found out that more nutrients are retained if it's microwaved, steamed, stir-fried[2] or eaten raw (chopped or minced). Apparently, boiling it decreases the amount of sulforaphane[3] in it (a powerful anticarcinogen).

Indole-3-carbinol[4] in kale helps repair DNA in cells and inhibits cancer cell growth.[5][6] And since I have FH (Familial Hypercholesterolemia), I am increasing my steamed kale intake since it has been shown to decrease fat absorption and lower cholesterol.[7]

For Kale Chips I Prefer Lacinato Kale

Aka Dinosaur, Black, Cavolo Nero, or Tuscan cabbage

Organic Kale from Boston Organics
Credit: Joy on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Kale Tastes Bitter

These four tips will help:

Advice by Jerry James Stone in the YouTube video that follows:

  • only buy chilled kale (otherwise it gets bitter the longer it sits at room temperature)
  • always buy organic (the curly leaves on kale traps pesticides)
  • look for firm green and dark green leaves, with no yellow spots, and leaves that aren't limp
  • the stems should be firm and the end (where it's cut) should be wet/almost sticky (if it's dried out, it's probably old)

How to Buy Kale

Arctic Zone Eco Blend 45 Can Freezer Tote

Arctic Zone Eco Blend 45 Can Freezer Tote RoseWrites 2014-06-29 4.5 0 5

Arctic Zone Eco Blend 45 Can Freezer Tote

Arctic Zone Eco Blend 45 Can Freezer Tote
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jun 29, 2014)
Keep your fresh, organic, chilled kale cold on the way home to avoid it becoming bitter. I especially like Arctic Zone bags since I can use them at the beach or for picnics. Made of recyclable polypropylene and polyester with a leak-proof lining (thank goodness) and sturdy shoulder straps. Perfect for storing cold or frozen foods in your car when you shop. (It's often bought with a 4 pack of Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Slim Lunch Ice Packs).

Organic Ripbor Kale

Credit: Dwight Sipler on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Strip First and Then Wash

If you've bought the freshest, refrigerated kale (and no wimpy limpy stuff) you can manhandle it. Don't know about you, but I don't have half an hour to pull the leafy part away from the stems. Finally I found a video (shown next) of someone who preps kale the way I do (only 29 seconds).

When washing kale, use cold water and really soak and swish it about in a large basin (or bowl). Then remove it and spin dry it (or pat it dry). Drying kale helps salad dressings (and other oily ingredients) stick to it and blend flavours together. I think this helps to lessen any bitterness too.

How Do I...Strip Kale?

by Dawn Jackson Blatner RD, LDN

Rose's Kale Salad with Mango

Serves: 3 - 4 | Prep: 15 mins | Total: 17 mins

I was inspired by Janet Hudson's flickr photo to create this salad. One thing kale needs is something really sweet to balance (or cancel) its bitter taste. Ms. Hudson's photo shows apple and poppy seeds in her salad (I didn't have either) so I tried mango chunks and skipped the poppy seeds. It tasted great.

Kale Salad with Mango in Lime VinaigretteCredit: Janet Hudson on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericIngredients:

3 good handfuls of kale (without stems) torn into bite-size pieces
3 - 4 fresh mint sprigs, finely chopped
1/2 cucumber (peeled and sliced)
1/2 red pepper (sliced or chopped)
1 - 2 celery stalks (chopped)
1 mango cubed (original photo shows apple and poppy seeds)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
2 tbsp. lemon juice (or juice from 1 lime)
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1 tbsp. maple syrup (Grade A Light) or honey
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Optional: sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Strip a bunch of kale until you have three or four good handfuls of it and wash it well in cold water. Spin dry it (or store it in a colander to pat dry later). Keep it in the fridge.
Wash and prepare remaining produce (peel, slice, chop, or cube) and add it to a large bowl. Add kale and toss to combine thoroughly.
In a small bowl, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Taste test it first before adding salt or ground pepper.
Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss or keep it chilled in a gravy boat to pour over bowls of salad. Store any unused kale or salad in the fridge (remember, kale kept at room temperature is more bitter tasting).

"Dragon Juice" aka Kale Smoothie

My next recipe is based on this one by Karolyn Szot:

Dragon Juice with Substitutions

Serves: 3 | Prep: 10 mins | Total: 12 mins

Green smoothieCredit: Stacy Spensley on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericIngredients:

3 - 4 handfuls of stripped and washed kale (and optional spinach)
1 - 2 whole ripe (or frozen) banana
1.5 cups pineapple or 1 mango cubed
1 cup apple juice (other fruit juice)
2 - 3 scoops vanilla ice cream (I use 3/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt instead and add 1 tbsp. of maple syrup, honey or sugar)
Optional: ice
Strip and wash kale (and spinach) well - don't just rinse it. Add enough to fill your blender halfway. Throw in chunks of banana, pineapple (or mango) and apple juice. I pulse it a few times before adding ice cream, frozen yogurt, or Greek yogurt.
NB: If using plain Greek yogurt, you may need to sweeten it with maple syrup, honey or table sugar to get your child to drink it.
Puree until desired consistency. If too thick, add almond milk (or any milk) to thin it out. Add ice to keep it cold if you (or your child) sip slowly.

Kale Chips (written instructions follow)

This is the easiest and best method I've found:

No-Fail Kale Chips

Makes: 3 - 4 cups | Prep: 5 mins | Total: 10 mins

Kale chipsCredit: Joy (joyosity on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericIngredients:

1 bunch of Locinato kale (aka Dinosaur kale)
4 tsp. oil (high quality extra virgin olive oil)
kosher salt, sea salt (or Mrs. Dash)
Trim off large stems from Locinato kale as shown in the previous video and tear (or cut) into chip-size pieces. Wash thoroughly and spin dry (or pat dry).
In a large bowl, toss kale with oil until every leaf is coated. Spread out each kale piece on a microwave-safe plate (in a single layer) and sprinkle with salt.
Microwave for 3 minutes. If crispy, transfer them to a serving plate (or bowl). If some aren't crispy enough, microwave them for 30 seconds, check, and repeat if necessary. 
TIP: Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week (mine never last that long).

My Man-Servant Likes Them This Way

Dried kale chips and apple cider
Credit: Angus Fraser on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

OXO Good Grips Green Salad Spinner

OXO Good Grips Green Salad Spinner RoseWrites 2014-06-29 4.5 0 5

OXO Good Grips Green Salad Spinner

OXO Good Grips Green Salad Spinner
Amazon Price: $29.99 $29.94 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 29, 2014)
Key reasons I recommend this salad spinner: it has a sturdy non-slip bottom, parts are dishwasher-safe (top rack), and the pump and break mechanism are durable (a patented design). I recommend the large size so you can soak and swish your kale (or other greens) around to get them really clean. Amazon provides a demonstration of this OXO Good Grips spinner too (also comes in clear).