Today’s recipes feature my favourite dark leafy green, kale, which is one of our all-star local superfoods! If your kids don’t know what kale is, they should!
I love kale because it is nutritionally-packed and grows locally in abundance, as it actually prefers a cooler climate.
You can even grow it in the backyard or in a large planter on the deck.
Kale is a leafy-green cruciferous vegetable, descended from the wild cabbage. It is loaded with beta-carotene, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, calcium, manganese and potassium, along with lots of glucosinolates — cancer-fighting compounds. It is also a terrific source of fiber.
Even with all of its innate goodness, most parents I speak to have yet to try it. Why? Because no one has a clue what to do with it! So, in the hopes of encouraging some of you to start incorporating this wonderful veggie into your family diet, I’m including some preparation tips and a couple of simple recipes.
Kale is best enjoyed fresh, as the longer it is stored the more bitter it gets. The smaller leaves are often less bitter than the larger ones, but the key is really to prepare it properly. Before cooking kale, remove & discard the large rib or stem completely in each leaf, by slicing up either side with a knife (I also remove smaller branching ribs if they seem a little larger than usual). Shred the leaves into smaller pieces (like you would romaine), or chop the kale finely if you are incorporating it into a kids’ soup or stew. Kale can be steamed and served with a lemony dressing or soy-based sauce, or added to just about any one-pot dish for a nutritional boost.
This super-simple recipe is also found in my cookbook, Real Food for Real Families:
Please believe me – these are not awful! Give these kale chips a chance and you will understand why my two urchins devour these. They are crazy simple to make, and are so tasty they will not last the day out on the counter. My kids call these “Kalato Chips” because potato chips are in short supply around this house, and if you close your eyes when you eat them your palette might just detect a hint of Frito Lay…
Oh come on, just try them, they take ten minutes to make and only have three ingredients!
– large bunch fresh kale, de-stemmed and washed, then patted or spun as dry as possible
– olive oil (I keep some in a pump mister and just spray the leaves with that, otherwise 1 tbsp)
– sea salt
Preheat oven to 300-325 F. Prep kale and shred into large pieces (they shrivel in the oven, so you don’t want to make them too small).
Either spread kale on a non-stick pan (or parchment covered pan) and then spray until coated with olive oil, or toss with a tablespoon of oil in a bowl and then spread on baking sheet. (The first method uses less oil, if you are concerned about calories.)
Sprinkle sparingly with sea salt (you can also experiment with other spices, or leave the salt out if you are trying avoid it, but of course that wouldn’t be very Frito-Lay-like).
Bake until crispy but NOT browned (watch the edges the first couple of times you make these to avoid browning, as this adversely affects flavour), about 10 minutes to 15 minutes, depending on oven temp. As pieces crisp up, remove them and put the others back in until they’re similarly crispy.
Here’s a new recipe inspired by the fall harvest:
This simple, nutrient-packed pesto made with kale, walnut & pumpkin seeds is a more cost-effective recipe than the traditional version made with basil and pine nuts. It freezes well, and makes a great pasta sauce, pizza topping, or base for marinades, dressings and egg-based dishes.
– 2 c. packed, de-stemmed kale juice of one lemon
– 1/4 c. walnuts
– 1/4 c/ pumpkin seeds
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1/2 c. grated asiago or parmesan cheese 1/2 tsp sea salt
– 1/4 c. olive oil
Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts and pumpkin seeds and toast, watching them carefully, for a few minutes or until fragrant and golden, then remove from heat.
In a food processor, combine kale, lemon juice, toasted nuts & seeds, garlic, and cheese and process until just combined. Slowly add oil while processing, to form a thick consistent pesto.
Wendy McCallum, LLB, RHN, is passionate about providing busy parents with the tools & support they need to feed their families wholesome food, so everyone can play, learn, and feel better! She is a mother of two terrific nine-year old kids. For information and recipe ideas, visit her website or pick-up her cookbook