It’s time to s-KALE up your diet


It seems as though the past year has been a great exploring and learning year for me, especially in the area of food.  I’ve never been that into cooking and didn’t feel I was very good at it.  It just wasn’t in me to follow a recipe or explore new options.

As my interest in eating more nutritiously increased, so did my willingness to try new and different things.  Sweet potatoes, quinoa and today’s subject, kale, fall into this category.  If you would have asked me a year ago what kale was, I’d have probably told you it was the green stuff growing on the inside of a dirty fish tank.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, kale is a wonderful vegetable that’s green in color and resembles lettuce or cabbage.  It’s part of a group known as borecoles, and is a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts (two of my faves).  Kale is super rich in nutrients and has numerous health benefits that accompany its great flavor.  I’ve grown really fond of it and think you should give it a shot, if you haven’t yet.  Later I will share some ways to prepare, but for now, let’s get to some more positive points about kale.

First of all, kale is low in calories, high in fiber, calcium and B6.  It also has a good amount of magnesium, a larger amount of Vitamin A, and a crazy amount of Vitamin C.  Not bad, huh?

Add to the list the fact that it has a bunch of minerals, as well (including manganese, potassium, copper, iron and phosphorus).  The health benefits of kale exist due to the fact that it has a bunch of the antioxidant vitamins.  In addition, kale is rich in Vitamin K.  For those of you who aren’t aware, nutritionists and physicians believe a diet rich in Vitamin K can reduce ones risk of developing and/or dying from cancer.  Vitamin K also aids in bone health and with normal blood clotting.

Fortunately, I have a buddy who grows his own, organically, and is willing to share by the bag full this time of year.  I say fortunately because here are the many things I do with kale, and enjoy tremendously, when he reminds me how much I love it by bringing my bag-fulls to the gym:

  • Kale Chips – A delicious snack can be made by slicing kale into bite sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil and a bit of sea salt.  Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Kale ‘n Quinoa Salad – A wonderful summer salad is enhanced by chopping kale finely and add to quinoa, along with your other favorite veggies.  I like to add tomatoes, broccoli and a little bit of Feta cheese, then mix with a lite Greek Dressing
  • Fruit & Kale Smoothie – I absolutely LOVE adding kale to my strawberry/banana, Greek yogurt, &Whey protein smoothie after my workout.
  • Whole Wheat Kale Pizza – I like to top a whole wheat crust with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and kale and then drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

These are just some of the ways I enjoy s-KALE-ing up some of my favorite dishes.  I know many others who use kale in salads, soups and stews.  It can also be served simply steamed.  If you have a favorite way to enjoy kale, please share!

Carri Nelsen of Gold’s Gym in Shrewsbury.

Got questions for Carri?  E-mail them to blogs@TheZoneMag.com.

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