As many of you know, I hate giving into nutrition myths and urban legends. I like to know the truth behind what I eat and not believe in all the fads. Kale is all the rage these days—it is everywhere! I hear about how great it is, see it on menus and in deli counters and clients keep asking me about it. It is a vegetable so I knew it couldn’t be bad for you…but is it worth all the hype?

Turns out it is! Kale is full of antioxidants (especially Beta Carotene), high in Vitamin K, Iron, a good source of Calcium and has fiber. Also, since it is not part of the traditional American diet, it adds some variety to the plate and allows us to eat something new.

So how do you eat it? Many people (including myself!) are a little scared because it is not a traditional American green and not sure where to start. Because the leaves are so sturdy it is usually recommended to cook kale although some people eat it raw.

Which way is your favorite?

Wilted Kale
Clean leaves, remove stems and center ribs and cut leaves into large chunks. Heat pan with a small amount of oil and wait until pan gets hot and place kale in pan. It can be piled up high because it will reduce quickly. Add vinegar, lemon juice and spices of choice. Let it simmer and the liquid reduce until the leaves are 80% cooked. Remove from heat and enjoy! I make 2-3 bunches of this almost weekly and it lasts several days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Baked Kale
Want a crunch without the extra fat? Clean kale leaves and dry, remove center ribs and stems leaving large kale leaves. Toss leaves with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and/or spice of choice. Bake at 250 degrees for 30-35 minutes until leaves are crunchy.

Raw Kale
Kale can be added to a lettuce mix to add some extra texture or as the base of a salad—the key is to slice the leaves very, very thin since the leaves are so strong and sturdy. I have added thinly sliced kale to salads including spinach and butter lettuce and filled with veggies and another client uses kale as the base of a coleslaw. Try it and see what you think!

This Italian dish is so tasty and shows how easily kale can be incorporated into any dish. Ribolitta is traditionally made with cannellini beans, sausage and vegetables including kale. I didn’t have all the ingredients available at home but I was making minestrone soup—I simply added fresh kale leaves to the soup in the pot and let it simmer and it tasted hearty and delish.

Believe the hype…go get your kale on!