Despite being the most common green vegetable in Britain and around since the middle ages, it’s only recently become popular again for its health and well being benefits . This super green vegetable is creating quite a storm in the healthy-eating revolution and everyone wants in. We’ve always been a fan of this curly green leaf in my family and my mum would add it regularly to her homemade saag. I remember never questioning its health properties as a child growing up in the North as mum knows best! Now I do the same as well regularly adding it to noodles or wok frying with vegetable bouillon, chilli, ginger and garlic with a light sprinkle of lemon salts which I believe are utterly delicious and cooked in a spot of coconut oil.
Now one of the top seasonal vegetables for keeping healthy, kale has come under fire for potentially causing kidney stones. One thing we need to be aware of is that kale contains 17mg oxalate acid (the substance that is said to cause stones) per 100g. Steaming or lightly frying kale is therefore better for us as it reduces the Oxalate acid as with Spinach . Eating raw kale could cause problems with your thyroid due to the isothiocyanates that it contains; these block the TPO enzyme, which is responsible for attaching iodine to the hormones in the thyroid to make them active, so if these very important enzymes are blocked, the thyroid can’t work at its best. It’s probably safest to avoid regular, large amounts of this delicious green leaf in its raw state, however a couple of handfuls added to your juice or smoothie once a week could be beneficial. Another popular way of eating these although I have not done so is by making kale crisps: spray the leaves with a light spray of rapeseed oil, sprinkle with seasoning ( chilli and bouillon) and bake in the oven until crisp (12-15 mins gas mark 6).
Containing high levels of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and vitamin C, kale is excellent for our immune system. These essential vitamins help us to stay feeling healthy and keep the bugs at bay, as well as keeping the linings and connective tissues of the body healthy and strong. Vitamin C helps our bodies heal when we have a small cut or graze, while beta-carotene helps create healthy skin and a strong immune system, as well as converting into vitamin A for good vision and eye health, helping prevent eye disorders including age-related macular degeneration.
Plump your skin
Kale can also help keep us looking younger due to the high level of manganese it contains and an important nutrient in the production of collagen, manganese can help our skin appear plumper and improve its elasticity. It’s also essential for bone health. Although our bodies will store small amounts of manganese, it’s important to keep these levels topped up by a diet that’s rich in vital minerals in order to keep our bones strong.
Kale is a very hardy veg and relatively easy to grow. Sown under a cloche or a greenhouse in the summer, the seedlings will be ready to transplant outdoors later in the season, when they are about 5cm high. Plant them deep – so that the soil reaches the bottom leaves of the plant – and water well. When the kale has reached 15cm, you can start harvesting the leaves. Cut them from the bottom of the stem, but only cut as many as you will be cooking – that way you can enjoy harvesting your kale throughout the winter and into spring.