Green on the red carpet: Kale Week

It probably won’t be found on the red carpet anytime soon, but green leafy kale certainly is a food superstar.

And we’re not talking one-hit wonder, either. Kale – a relative of cabbage – boasts a huge amount of vitamin K to help build bones and promote normal blood coagulation. It also contains good amounts of vitamins A, C, iron, and calcium. Carotenoids found in kale are essential for visual function, and some may protect against vision loss associated with aging. It provides fiber and a reasonable amount of protein, and several compounds in kale may be protective against several types of cancer.

With all that going on, kale could be expected to have a full-time entourage, assisting it in its nutritional duties. But kale keeps things humble, showing up as a complement to richer flavors in most dishes. For example, massaging kale with some salt and olive oil makes a well-bodied base in this avocado, mango and hazelnut salad from Opera Girl Cooks.

Kale didn’t even pull a diva stunt when asked to play a supporting role in a protein-rich smoothie recipe I made up this week. The fruit and yogurt flavors shine through, while the kale lends some additional fiber, protein and a fun green color.

A kale-based smoothie may not sound appealing to non-veg-heads, I realize. So let me – or rather, let Miles – assure you that it is tasty even for the pickiest of 5-year-old palates.

Back to the topic of superstars, for the record, a kale dress would be about 1 million times more clever than that infamous meat dress. But if you’d rather put some in your mouth than on your torso, here’s a week’s worth of ways to do that:

  • Kale, avocado and ricotta pie, from The Daily Meal (here)
  • Kale chips, from All Recipes (here)
  • Kale protein smoothie (recipe follows below)
  • Massaged kale, mango, hazelnut salad, from Opera Girl Cooks (here)
  • Roasted potato, leek, kale soup, from Not Eating Out in New York (here)
  • Slow baked beans with kale, from NYTimes (here)
  • White bean and kale soup, from Vegetarian Times (here)

A note on the smoothie recipe below: I made this up as a post-workout re-fuel, so it is not exactly low calorie. But it does have a good dose of protein, to make use of the post-workout body’s receptivity to using dietary protein for muscle repair and building.

Kale protein smoothie (text file here)

Many ingredients in this recipe can be swapped to suit particular dietary concerns. Don’t eat dairy? Instead of Greek yogurt, add 2 Tbsp rice protein powder. Not nuts for nuts? Try 2-3 Tbsp chia seeds instead of peanut butter, and any non-nut milk instead of almond milk.

1 serving (approx. 370 calories)

1 banana
½ pear
1/3 cup almond milk
1 cup kale leaves, stems removed (or more, if you’re feeling extra green)
1 Tbsp peanut butter
3-5 ice cubes
½ cup plain Greek yogurt

Put all ingredients in a blender, and blend on the highest setting until smooth. Pour into a glass & enjoy!

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