All Hail the Kale! By Karen Smith-Hagman, RN, MSN
The year of kale is upon us, and it is no wonder why so many people pledge their loyalty to this nutritionally dense super food.
Restaurants, celebrities and chefs swear by kale both for its taste and its nutrition. A dark, leafy green vegetable that grows well in a cold climate, kale contains numerous antioxidants and vitamins A, K, C, folate, calcium, potassium and more.
Now that the days are shorter and the weather is cold, kale season is just beginning. Fresh kale is available in farmer’s markets from the middle of summer. But kale is hardy and some claim it is better after frost ends the growing season. So, you can find kale well into the winter.
Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, one cup of boiled kale provides your body with more than 300 percent of the daily value of vitamin A and 1,000 percent of vitamin K.
Among many health benefits, vitamin A helps keep skin and mucous membrane cells healthy and moist. The moistness helps ward off bacteria and viruses since it makes it harder for them to latch on and cause damage to your immune system.
Vitamin K can regulate the clotting of blood and maintain bone health. With the upcoming winter season, slippery walkways can make for one nasty fall. But by taking the necessary precautions now and giving your body the nutrients it needs, you can have the best defense intact to help protect against injury.
Available at your local farmer’s market, kale, garlic and bell and jalapeño peppers, when combined, make for a delicious treat.
The following recipe requires little prep time in the kitchen and is bursting with vitamins and minerals:
Kale with Garlic and Peppers
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups red bell pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon jalapeño pepper, chopped and seeded
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups kale, chopped and stems removed
½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, minced
Preparation: Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add red bell pepper, jalapeño, salt and black pepper and sauté three minutes or until tender. Add chopped kale and broth and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring once. Stir in garlic and increase heat to medium. Cook uncovered for two minutes or until liquid evaporates.
The best gift you can give your family and friends is a meal that is both healthy and flavorful. A recipe for optimal health: eat nutritious food, dance, laugh, and be active. Enjoy life!
Karen Smith-Hagman, RN, MSN, is Vice President, Medical Management at EmblemHealth where she oversees initiatives that improve the health and well-being of New Yorkers. EmblemHealth is a sponsor of Harvest Home Farmer’s Market, which provides access to locally grown fruits and vegetables and cooking demonstrations at the West Harlem, East Harlem and Metropolitan farmer’s markets.