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Do you love kale? I love kale. I eat it weekly, sometimes daily if I have a batch of my delicious “cheesy” kale chips on hand.
Kale is packed with nutrients and though many people don’t like it, there are many ways to prepare this leafy green that make it more palatable for those super tasters who may be turned off by the slightly bitter flavor.
Here are 9 awesome (and healthy) kale recipes shared with permission from Dr. Mercola. You’ll see that the recipes were not designed for the paleo-style of eating, but I have offered easy substitution ideas so anyone and everyone can tailor these recipes to their own needs.
9 Healthy Kale Recipes
By Dr. Mercola
Kale is an unassuming leafy green that many people bypass due to its slightly bitter flavor. But if you learn to use it creatively, kale can be quite tasty, which is only one reason to eat this vegetable. In the realm of superfoods, and certainly of green leafy vegetables, kale is king (or close to it!).
One cup of kale contains just around 30 calories but will provide you with seven times the daily recommended amount of vitamin K, twice the amount of vitamin A and a day’s worth of vitamin C, plus much more.
Kale Dubbed the ‘New Beef’
Kale has a 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio – an exceptionally high amount of protein for any vegetable, and one reason why it has recently been acclaimed as the “new beef.”
Surprisingly, like meat, kale contains all nine essential amino acids needed to form the proteins within your body: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine – plus, nine other non-essential ones for a total of 18.
Further, the amino acids in kale are easier to extract by your body compared to those in meat. When consuming a steak, for instance, your body has to expend great metabolic resources to break down the massive, highly complex, and intricately folded protein structures within mammalian flesh back down into their constituent amino acids.
Then, later, these extracted amino acids must be reassembled back into the same, highly complex, intricately folded and refolded human proteins from which your body is made. This is a time-consuming, energy-intensive process, with many metabolic waste products released in the process.
Kale, on the other hand, is easier for your body to use, yet can be considered “meaty” and worthy of being considered as a main course in any meal (and you can try out numerous recipes in which kale is the star player below).
If You Want to Flood Your Body with Antioxidants, Vitamins, and Minerals, You’ll Want to Eat Kale
Many people have difficulty consuming enough vitamins and minerals, but this becomes simple if you eat kale regularly. Most notably, one cup of kale contains over 10,000 IUs of vitamin A, most of which is delivered the form of natural beta-carotene, as well as significant amounts of vitamin K.
And as far as calcium is concerned, one cup of kale will give you 90 milligrams in a highly bioavailable form. One calcium bioavailability study found that calcium from kale was 25% better absorbed than calcium from milk.
Kale is also an excellent source of magnesium, and as a cruciferous vegetablehas many of the same cancer-fighting properties as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. And, kale is loaded with both lutein and zeaxanthin at over 26 mg combined, per serving.
Of all the carotenoids, only zeaxanthin and lutein are found in your retina, which has the highest concentration of fatty acids of any tissue in your body. This is because your retina is a highly light- and oxygen-rich environment, and it needs a large supply of free radical scavengers to prevent oxidative damage there.
Your body concentrates zeaxanthin and lutein in your retina to perform this duty, and consuming these antioxidants may help to ward of eye problems like age-related macular degeneration. What else do you gain when you eat kale?
- Anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent arthritis, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases
- Plant-based omega-3 fats for building cell membranes, protecting against heart disease and stroke, and regulating blood clotting
- Cancer-fighting sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol
- An impressive number of beneficial flavonoids, including 32 phenolic compounds and three hydroxycinamic acids to help support healthy cholesterol levels and scavenge free radicals
Curly Kale to Dinosaur Kale: What’s the Difference?
There are multiple varieties of kale, which descended from wild cabbage. The oldest variety is curly kale, which has ruffled leaves, a deep-green color and a bitter, pungent flavor. More “recent” varieties are ornamental kale, Russian, and dinosaur kale, the latter of which has blue-green leaves and a more delicate taste than curly kale. Ornamental kale, sometimes called salad savoy, was originally used as a decorative garden plant (it comes in green, white, and purple colors), although it can also be eaten and has a mellow flavor and tender texture.
When choosing kale, look for firm, fresh deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Avoid leaves that are brown or yellow or that contain holes. Kale with smaller leaves tends to be more tender and milder than larger-leaved kale. Choose organic varieties (or grow your own) and store it in your refrigerator (unwashed) in a plastic storage bag (remove as much air as you can). Ideally, eat kale as soon as you can, because the longer it sits the more bitter the flavor becomes.
9 Tasty Kale Recipes
If you avoid kale because of its bitter taste, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the recipes that follow. Posted by Health.com, these recipes feature kale in fresh new ways that will tempt your taste buds and, with this much variety, there’s something for everyone.
Make it a goal to make your way through each recipe on this list… and remember to source locally grown organic produce, organic pastured eggs, raw dairy products, and grass-fed meats as much as possible. I also recommend swapping out olive oil for coconut oil in cases where the oil will be heated during cooking.
|1. Two-Bean Soup with Kale IngredientsNote from Jessica: I have made a similar soup to this without the beans. If you’re paleo, you can sub some ground beef or chicken for the beans. If you’re not avoiding legumes, enjoy!
|2. Raw Kale, Grapefruit, and Toasted Hazelnut Salad IngredientsNote from Jessica: I don’t believe in using fat-free anything, so sub full fat yogurt, sour cream, or even thick coconut milk for the fat-free yogurt.
|3. Braised Kale Frittata Ingredients
|4. Crispy Tamari Kale Chips Ingredients:Note from Jessica: Tamari is a wheat-free soy sauce, but if you need to avoid soy completely, use coconut aminos instead.
|5. Roasted Squash and Kale Salad Ingredients:Note from Jessica: Tamari is a wheat-free soy sauce, but if you need to avoid soy completely, use coconut aminos instead. You could also easily sub your favorite nut or seed butter for the peanut butter in this recipe and it would be delicious. I love using sunflower seed butter.
|6. Barley-Stuffed Poblanos IngredientsNote from Jessica: If you’re paleo, or grain-free, then you could easily eliminate the barley and replace it with ground beef or chicken. It’s an easy substitution and tastes amazing!
|7. Tuscan Kale with Almonds, Plums, and Goat Cheese IngredientsNote from Jessica: Tamari is a wheat-free soy sauce, but if you need to avoid soy completely, use coconut aminos instead.
|8. Chicken and White Bean Soup with Greens IngredientsNote from Jessica: If you’re legume-free, simply leave out the beans and either add a little extra chicken, or you could add some extra carrots and it would be equally as delicious. As always, I don’t eat fat-free anything, so just use whatever broth you have on hand. Homemade stock is always best.
|9. Braised Kale Ingredients