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Kale: the new spinach

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

This time of year, I like to spotlight a fabulous green food in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

Is it a coincidence if a child of a dietitian is named Kale, which is one of the healthiest vegetables? Coincidence or not, the first time I prepared kale for dinner, Kale was not amused. In fact, as a toddler he was a little confused over this “queen of green” vegetable. We should not be confused.

Kale is rising on the most-popular vegetable list, and with its impressive nutrient resume, it should be landing on plates everywhere. Kale’s antioxidant properties supply cancer protection, promote eye health, and help reduce cholesterol levels.

One cup of kale is rich in copper, iron, potassium and phosphorus, and supplies the following daily percentages: 206 percent of vitamin A, 134 percent of vitamin C, 684 percent of vitamin K, and one cup only has 33 calories.

If you are unsure what kale looks like, it is a leafy green vegetable. The leaves can be dark green to purple in color, with the smaller leaves being more tender and mild in flavor.

Store kale unwashed in the refrigerator in an airtight bag for up to 5 days. Be creative with your use of kale. When ready to use, rinse kale in water, chop it finely and add to soups, stews, stir-frys, egg dishes, casseroles and as a pizza topping.

More ideas:

• Mix up a salad with kale, apples, chopped walnuts and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

• Toss whole grain pasta with chopped kale, feta cheese, sun-dried tomato and olive oil.

• Steam kale in a skillet with a little olive oil and garlic for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and 1tablespoon red wine vinegar.

• Make homemade kale chips by cutting up kale, lightly toss with olive oil and sea salt. Bake in preheated 275-degree oven for 20 minutes or until crispy.

Toss some kale in your cart this month and I will be sure to remind my Kale he is as fabulous as the vegetable.

Kale with Carmelized Onion

Makes 4 (1-cup) servings.

2 t. Olive oil

11⁄2 Cup chopped red onion

2 t. Honey

3⁄4 t. Salt

1⁄4 t. Pepper

1 large bunch kale

Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat; add onion; sauté 7 minutes or until golden. Add honey, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Add kale; cover; reduce.

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