Kale (羽衣甘蓝)- Vegetable Powerhouse

Most American’s diet is lack in fruits and vegetables.  The most common vegetables that they eat is carrots, lettuce, potatoes, corn, tomatoes. How sad is that ? Healthy eating habits starts from a young age and if you weren’t exposed to all the other wonderful cruciferous out there, maybe it’s not your fault and maybe it is. So, while you are trying out new foods yourself, let your kids join in the fun food experiment together.

Let me introduce you to Kale, a cabbage family vegetables that provides the most nutrient dense in one single cup of leafy greens.  The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in kale are beneficial for heart disease, cancer, bone, digestive, eye and skin health.

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My few favorites Kale recipes are Kale Chips, Kale Stew and Kale Salad.  Older babies and young toddler probably will do well with the kale stew where it’s soft and easy to chew. Older toddler over 2 years old would love the crunchy textures of the kale chip (much better compared to potato chips if you ask me). As for yourself, try the kale salad, keep an open mind and you’ll be surprise how delicious they can be if you paired the salad with grilled salmon or steak.

According to USDA nutrition database, one cup of raw kale (67 g) contains :

Energy 28 calories
Protein 2 g
Fat 0.40 g
Carbohydrates 5.57 g
Fiber 1.1 g
 
Minerals/Vitamins
Calcium 137 mg     (14% RDA)
Iron 2 mg          (10% RDA)
Phosphorus 42 mg        (6% RDA)
Magnesium 59 mg        (16% RDA)
Potassium 302 mg      (6% RDA)
Manganese 0.5             (25% RDA)
Copper 0.2              (10% RDA)
Vitamin A 2077 IU     (69% RDA)
Vitamin C 87 g           (147 % RDA)
Vitamin K 547 mcg    (684%RDA)

There is also some fear circulating in the internet regarding Kale and other cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, collard greens, brussels sprouts, rapeseed, turnips, watercress) that lead to hypothyroidism. So far, there’s no research to back this up, at least in human studies. Only one case reported where an 88-year old women developed a severe hypothyroidism when she consume about 1.5 kg/day of raw bok choy for several months.  That’s a lot of raw vegetables !!!  In theory, yes it could happen if you consume a lot of of them raw (for example: vegans and people that juice everyday) and also living in an area where iodine is lacking.  So, cook it before you eat it and also throw in some high iodine food such as seafood and seaweed in the mix of your diet.  Variety and moderation is always your best friend.

Caution:
If you have kidney problems or is on blood thinning medication,  Kale is not the vegetables for you because it is high in potassium and Vitamin K which could provides adverse effects in combinations of the medication that you are currently taking.

Braised Kale with Pork Shoulder

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This hearty stew is perfect for cold winter days. I came up with this recipe when my husband said there’s nothing to eat in the house. I went to the fridge, and carrots, kale, pork, and tomatoes were the things we had available. I just threw everything together in the pot and to our surprise, it tasted pretty good! I hope you enjoy it as much as we (including my 18-month old) do!

Serves: 4
Calories: ~380 calories, 23 gm protein per serving

Ingredients:
1 bunch of kale
1 pound pork shoulder (remove excess outer fat layer and cut into 1-2 inch cubes)
2 carrots (cut into big cubes)
2 medium tomatoes (cut into big cubes)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup of water
3 garlic cloves (peeled and left whole)
1 tablespoon cooking oil (canola or safflower)

Pork Marinade:
1/2 teaspoon regular sesame oil
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon white or black pepper

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Instructions:

  1. Combine the pork marinade ingredients and pour over the pork shoulder cubes. Mix well and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Tear the leaves off the kale stems and wash thoroughly.
  3. Heat a 12-inch skillet or a larger sauce pan and add the cooking oil. When the oil starts to glisten, add the garlic cloves and saute for 10 seconds. Then slowly add in the marinated pork (discard marinade liquid). Keep the whole garlic cloves in while searing the pork.
  4. Sear the pork, about 15-20 seconds per side under medium heat.  Add the carrots and tomatoes and continue stirring for another 20-30 seconds. If the garlic starting to burn in this step, remove and set aside.
  5. Pour in the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Add in the garlic that was removed earlier. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add in two-thirds of the kale. Cover and let simmer for 25 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining kale and simmer for another 10 minutes. (This gives the dish a brighter green color, but you can skip this step if you prefer. Just add all the kale in Step 5 and simmer for 35 minutes.)