You may have heard ‘kale’ being bantered about where the subject of discussion is super foods. But what exactly is kale? Before getting into the ways you might add kale to a healthy seniors’ diet, here is a brief description of kale.
Kale (or borecole) is a leafy green vegetable with deep green or purple leaves that come together at the base of the plant, similar to wild cabbage. Varieties of kale include curly, ornamental and dinosaur kale, all of which vary in flavor, texture and appearance. All varieties of kale are beneficial in helping lower the risk of several types of cancers and are rich in antioxidant properties.
Leafy green vegetables are ideal foods for bone health as they are high in calcium and potassium, and they help reduce calcium losses from the body. For seniors that are trying to improve calcium balance in their diet, consider adding kale to your grocery list.
Selecting and storing kale
Kale is available throughout the year and should be displayed in the produce section of your grocery store along with cabbage, lettuce and Brussels sprouts. Select kale that appears deep in color with firm moist stalks and no small holes or browning on the leaves. Choose a plant with smaller leaves – these are milder in flavor and tenderer than larger leaves.
Store kale in a plastic food storage bag, squeeze out as much air as possible – it will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. Do not wash before storing to keep the leaves from spoiling.
To prepare kale, rinse leaves under cold water and chop evenly. Sprinkle with lemon juice, this will enhance the flavor and the concentration of beneficial nutrients in the leaves. Allow kale leaves to sit for about five minutes before steaming.
As with most vegetables, steaming will help preserve the nutritional value as well as the flavor of kale leaves. Steam for about five minutes then toss with salad ingredients and dressing or add to pasta or soup.
These are three of our favorite ways to enjoy kale as part of a healthy seniors’ diet.
1. Potato Kale Soup
Sauté one medium onion in a tablespoon soup broth for about five minutes; add four garlic cloves and continue simmering for about a minute. Add a cup each of chopped celery and carrots, and 5 cups chicken or vegetable soup broth to the soup pot and bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for about five more minutes. Add two red potatoes (cubed) and cook for about fifteen minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add three cups of rinsed, finely chopped kale leaves, 2 teaspoons each of dried thyme and sage, then salt and pepper to taste and simmer for an additional five minutes. This healthy soup is perfect served with biscuits or dinner rolls.
2. Mediterranean kale and sea vegetables with Mediterranean dressing
Cut a pound of kale leaves into ¼ inch slices and steam for five minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with Mediterranean dressing.
Mediterranean dressing ingredients:
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 pressed garlic clove
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Add dressing ingredients plus three tablespoons chopped dulse (seaweed) to kale while it’s still hot and enjoy this super healthy side dish with any meal.
3. Five-minute kale
Prepare the kale in the same way as for the Mediterranean style kale above. Add one sliced onion to steamer with a pound of kale and steam for about 5 minutes. Transfer kale and onion to a salad bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons dried tomatoes, 2 tablespoons sliced kalamata olives and a couple dashes of soy sauce. Top with feta cheese to make another super healthy and delicious side dish.
To derive maximum health benefits, include kale with your servings of other cruciferous vegetables at least 4 to 5 times per week. As kale finds its way into your kitchen, you’ll come up with many more delicious ways to use this super healthy leafy green vegetable on your dinner menu.
Written by Alice Lucette
Alice is a blogger from Canada and is a writer for SeniorsZen.com.