Kale has been riding a trend for a few years now. And we say, let the trend live on! Kale is tasty, nutritious, and there are dozens of interesting ways to cook with kale. We hope these kale recipes inspire you to get creative with your favorite leafy green!
Produce of the Week: Kale
There’s a reason you’re still seeing kale piled up at grocery stores and farmer’s markets. It’s incredibly versatile.
Think: you can eat it raw, wilt it, cook it into soups, use it as a wrap, bake it into casseroles and gratins. You can also eat kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Here are just a few of the health reasons to eat more kale:
- Kale, along with many other leafy greens, is incredibly nutrient dense. It contains all sorts of essential vitamins and nutrients, and is a particularly good source of vitamin A, C and K. In fact, one cup of kale actually contains more vitamin C than a whole orange!
- Kale is also an excellent source of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and various flavanoids and polyphenols.
We could keep going, but you probably get it. Kale is truly a powerhouse green!
Most Common Varieties of Kale
You’ve probably noticed the various kinds of kale at the store. And maybe you have a preference for one. But, we say: try them all.
Here’s the breakdown of the different kinds of kale for cooking:
- Curly Kale. This, as you’d expect, has tight, curly leaves. It’s probably the most commonly found at grocery stories. It’s light and mild and great for a raw salad or homemade kale chips.
- Redbor Kale. Also called red or purple kale, it’s the kind pictured above. It’s stiffer and thicker than curly kale. We love its color and prefer it cooked. Try a quick sauté. But know that it’s color will leech out with acids, so if you add other ingredients, like onions, don’t be alarmed if they turn purple!
- Dino Kale. These are the leaves that look prehistoric. They’re rounded and shiny, dark green. They can be enjoyed raw, but we like them cooked. It’d be great on our savory oatmeal bowls or in this white bean and kale soup.
- Baby Kale. It’s exactly what it sounds like – young, pre-mature kale. These leaves are much more tender than regular kale and have a mild, slightly peppery flavor, almost similar to arugula. I prefer to use them in salads. You’ll most likely find them in a plastic clamshell at your grocery store, right next to the spinach.
When choosing your kale, consider how you’d like to eat it. If you’re going for a raw salad, choose smaller leaves. They’ll be much easier to chew!
For cooked dishes, you can experiment with all different kinds of kale. See below for our favorites!
Notes on cooking with kale
Kale leaves can be tough and their stems can be woody and downright inedible. It’s important to de-stem your kale fully before cooking. You can compost the stems, or save them to flavor a veggie broth.
You probably also want to hand-tear or roughly chop the leaves too. Large kale leaves can be hard to chew, even after they’re fully cooked.
And finally, if you’re eating kale raw, as in one of the salads below, we recommend giving it a quick massage beforehand. That’s right, treating your kale right will let it treat you right 🙂
Massaging the leaves with a bit of olive oil helps the leaves start to break down a bit. This makes them softer and easier to chew and digest.
Best Recipes With Kale
We’re eating kale for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not to mention snacks! Here are our favorite kale recipes:
- Savory Vegan Oatmeal with Mushroom, Kale and Avocado. Bet ya didn’t expect a kale breakfast recipe! But yes, folded into creamy savory oats, this leafy green brings breakfast up a notch.
- Easy Cheesy Kale Chips. Smothered in cheesy vegan queso and dehydrated, these crispy chips are addicting: be warned!
- Kale Tahini Caesar Salad. Kale Caesar might be a classic at this point. But our thick and creamy tahini dressing brings the dish to a new level.
- Cheesy Kale Gratin from the Suburban Soapbox. This is comfort food at it’s most comforting. Vegetarian gratin packed with kale (but mostly cheese!)
- White Bean and Kale Soup. This is a bowl of comforting, satisfying vegetarian soup. The classic combo of beans and greens is the warming dinner you need this fall.
- Creamy Kale Linguine from Simply Healthy Vegan. This dish brings more green to your classic pasta dinner. Plus, coconut cream makes a rich and creamy vegan sauce.
- Fall Kale Salad. Speaking of fall, this hearty salad is full of squash, creamy tahini dressing and sprinkled with bright pomegranate seeds.
Sustainability: Pledge Against Plastic
I know, I know. You’re probably sick of hearing about plastic and why you should stop using it.
But it’s not enough to read articles, nod our heads in agreement about the perils of plastic straws, and then head to Starbucks and get a Venti cold brew in a plastic cup. We have to make a sincere effort to make change before it’s too late.
A few weeks ago at Expo East, we had a chance to listen to a talk from Rachel Sarnoff, the woman behind this viral TED Talk about plastic. We won’t regurgitate the exact message here (and we really encourage you to watch her talk to learn more), but it’s incredibly important to take steps towards reducing plastic consumption NOW.
It’s not enough to simply recycle. In fact, as Rachel explains, the recycling system is actually incredibly inefficient. Most of the items you recycle never actually get recycled.
Most of the plastic we “recycle” actually gets sent to Southeast Asia, where it’s then disposed of. More often than not, it ends up in the ocean. Here’s a tough fact to swallow: by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
The single most important thing YOU can do is to take small steps to start reducing your plastic consumption now. You can head here to sign a pledge against plastic. It’s a written commitment to start making lifestyle changes, and it’s quite honestly very attainable for most.
Once you sign the pledge, here are a few very basic changes you can make today:
- Ditch plastic water bottles. There’s really no excuse, unless you either have no access to clean water, or end up in a situation where you’re unexpectedly unprepared.
- Along the same lines, start bringing reusable containers to coffee shops and other fast casual restaurants. I’ve never had an employee complain about filling up my container, and it’s easy to just keep a few in your car for easy access. It doesn’t have to be fancy – I just use basic mason jars with lids.
- Switch from body wash to bar soap. My husband and I made the swap over a year ago and haven’t looked back. Bar soap is perfectly usable, and it’s basically zero waste.
- Start shopping in the bulk section at your grocery store. Don’t forget to bring reusable containers to fill!
- Invest in an inexpensive set of reusable produce bags. There’s no reason to use 15 plastic bags in one grocery trip when reusable bags are so affordable. We use these and just throw them in the washing machine if they get dirty.
Read a few more of our tips on reducing plastic here, and more importantly, SHARE THE MESSAGE! You can single-handedly make a difference simply by leading by example. If more people realize how easy it is to reduce everyday plastic consumption, we’ll collectively take a huge step towards a solution.