I am surprised I haven’t written about kale before. Since I started experimenting with kale last spring, I’ve grown to like it. Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. One cup contains only 35 calories and 5 grams of fiber. Protein accounts for 16% of it’s calories. It also has vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K (important to remember for those on Coumadin). Vitamin A, C and K are extremely important to health. Plus, the high fiber content can help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
Kale contains oxalates which block the absorption of calcium, so don’t eat it with every meal. Generally spacing out your greens and dairy (eating them at different meals) is enough to prevent problems, but people with certain conditions should avoid oxalates all together. Some research has shown that people who have had oxalate kidney stones in the past should restrict dietary oxalate, but other studies have found dietary restriction does nothing to prevent stones. Talk to your physician if you have kidney stones.
Kale can taste bitter, but it’s not as bitter as some other greens (like mustard greens). When it’s cooked well, it’s earthy and a little tangy. When picking kale, pick bunches that are crisp, not wilted. The more vibrant in color, the better. Kale should be stored in the refrigerator. My supermarket has bags of kale (near the bagged spinach) that I love. The bags are already trimmed and that makes it super easy to add a handful of kale to anything. If you buy kale in bunches, you need to trim the greens from the stems.
Since I started to try to like kale, I’ve been tossing it in everything. Today, I decided to make a healthy mac and cheese by tossing in a few cups. The more times you can expose picky eaters to a vegetable in a non-threatening manner, the more likely they’ll try it some other way later. So, maybe people who think kale is ok in this will be more apt to try kale greens later. I still don’t like straight kale greens, but maybe someday I’ll get there.
You could use whatever mac and cheese recipe you want, and just add the wilted kale after you make it.
- 3 cups of kale, chopped
- 2 cups of cheese (I used shredded cheddar, separate a handful)
- ½ pound of pasta (I used whole wheat twists)
- ¼-1/2 cup of vegetable broth
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta.
- Wilt the kale with the vegetable broth. Basically, put them both in a saucepan until the kale wilts and gets a little tender.
- Drain the broth and set the kale aside. Return the broth to the saucepan.
- Add the shredded cheese to the saucepan and simmer on low until it's melted. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add the sour cream.
- I had planned to leave the kale in big chunks. When I tasted the sauce, the texture was not nice. So, I added the entire sauce contents to my blender and blended it to make a smoother consistency with smaller chunks.
- Mix the sauce and the pasta together in a over proof dish.
- If you like boxed mac and cheese, you can go ahead and eat it now. I like baked mac and cheese. For baked, just top the pasta with the reserved handful of cheese and cook it for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Even non-kale lovers told me they liked this dish. You can taste the kale, but you can also taste the yummy mac and cheese. This dish is really not a whole lot lower fat or calories than regular mac and cheese, but it has the benefits of the added kale.