Are you Growing Easy, Nutritious and Delicious Kale?
Currently regarded as one of the most healthy vegetables on Planet Earth, kale is packed full of nutrients, has incredible health benefits, and when well prepared, has a delicious flavour. It is easy to grow, needs minimal care, and will reward you with an awesome harvest for much longer than most of the other veggies in the Brassica family.
There are many different types of kale, all of which are very easily sown from seed. And you don’t need a huge patch to get an ongoing supply of leaves for the table (as you can see from the photograph).
Kale requires reasonably rich soil; water; and a watchful eye to catch aphids and caterpillars before they eat your harvest before you do! While it prefers colder weather to grow in, it will thrive in most climates, though it does tend to become a bit tough and bitter when the weather is very hot.
Kale is a biennial plant, though most people normally grow it as an annual, and harvest the leaves after about 60 days. But left in the ground, it will continue to grow and get quite big. After two years it will flower and complete its life cycle.
Health Benefits of Kale
This super-plant has an exceptionally good concentration of antioxidant vitamins; specifically vitamins A, C and K, as well as phytonutrients that contain sulphur. It is also full of lutein and zeaxanthin compounds that do wonders for eye health; and the fibre content binds bile acids, and in so doing helps to lower cholestrol levels in the blood and reduce risks of heart disease. Vitamin K, which is needed for bone health and normal blood clotting, is one of the vitamins that have been found to help reduce risks associated with cancer. So this really is a veg to grow.
A minor warning is that because kale contains naturally occurring oxalates that may interfere with the absorption of calcium, it’s best not to mix calcium-rich foods with kale (and this includes dairy products).
Ways to Prepare Kale
Kale is quick and easy to prepare, and it can be added to salads or braised, just like spinach. Here are five quick and easy ideas for preparing and serving kale:
- Slice red pepper, red onion and kale and serve with raisins or sultanas and garlic vinaigrette.
- Braise chopped kale with apples; garnish with chopped pecan nuts or walnuts and splash with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Cook like spinach with a few garlic cloves and a tablespoon or two of olive oil (no water). Season with a splash of red wine vinegar, salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
- Combine wholegrain pasta with chopped raw kale, pine nuts and feta cheese mixed together in a little bit of olive oil.
- The piece de resistance: kale chips. Slice the leaves into chip-sized pieces and place in a baking tray. Drizzle over a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 350 °F/ 180 °C. They should be light and crunchy, and very yummy.
Plant and enjoy!