There are several varieties of kale; these include curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (or Lacinato or Tuscan) kale, all of which differ in taste, texture, and appearance. The scientific name for kale is Brassica oleracea.
Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and is usually deep green in color. It has a lively pungent flavor with delicious bitter peppery qualities.
Ornamental kale is a more recently cultivated species that is oftentimes referred to as salad savoy. Its leaves may either be green, white, or purple and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head. Ornamental kale has a more mellow flavor and tender texture.
Dinosaur kale is the common name for the kale variety known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale. It features dark blue-green leaves that have an embossed texture. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate taste than curly kale.
It's nutrient richness stands out in three particular areas: (mostly vitamins K, A, and C)
(1) antioxidant nutrients
(2) anti-inflammatory nutrients
(3) anti-cancer nutrients
RecommendationsYou'll want to include kale as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis if you want to receive the fantastic health benefits provided by the cruciferous vegetable family. At a minimum, include cruciferous vegetables as part of your diet 2-3 times per week, and make the serving size at least 1-1/2 cups. Even better from a health standpoint, enjoy kale and other vegetables from the cruciferous vegetable group 4-5 times per week, and increase your serving size to 2 cups.
Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around and one way to be sure to enjoy the maximum nutrition and flavor from kale is to cook it properly. We recommend Healthy Steaming kale for 5 minutes. To ensure quick and even cooking cut the leaves into 1/2" slices and the stems into 1/4" lengths. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to enhance their health-promoting qualities before steaming. See our Healthiest Way of Cooking Kale in the How to Enjoy section below.
Tips for Preparing KaleRinse kale leaves under cold running water. Chop leaf portion into 1/2" slices and the stems into 1/4" lengths for quick and even cooking.
To get the most health benefits from kale, let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration.
Cooking: Best to Steam Kale
Kale can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in kale do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they've been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it's easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw kale still has cholesterol-lowering ability--just not as much.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Braise chopped kale and apples. Before serving, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and chopped walnuts.
- Combine chopped kale, pine nuts, and feta cheese with whole grain pasta drizzled with olive oil.
Zuppa Tuscana soup
Sausage Kale Fettuccine (my favorite--I also like it with lemon chicken in place of sausage)
Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale
Garlic Parmesan Kale Salad
*info from WHfood.com