Whenever I set out to make a meal, I generally have to consider several things: Is it nutrient dense? Will my family ACTUALLY eat it? Does it retain nutrients when cooked? This is where kale comes in.
By now everyone knows Kale is good...I mean really good. It's been in the media for years but even though it's touted as a super food, not enough information is provided about how to eat kale.
Kale's benefits and nutrient profile have been rigorously studied and it has been determined that indeed kale contains a number of nutrients vital to our health. This leafy green is part of the family of cruciferous vegetables, which includes cabbage, broccoli, brussesl sprouts, radish, etc. Kale is rich in Vitamins K, C and A and E. It contains numerous minerals and essential fatty acids and a balanced ratio of Omega 3s and Omega 6s. The reason this balance is important comes back to the fact that the majority of processed foods are high in Omega 6s and our diet lacks enough Omega 3s to counter this imbalance.
Benefits of Kale:
- Anti-inflammatory, due to its high vitamin K content
- High in all 3 antioxidants (these are vitamin A - in the form of beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E)
- Supports cardiovascular health due to the high antioxidant content, vitamin K and E, which support heart health.
- Vision support - two of the nutrients found in kale are lutein and zeaxanthin. Both of these have shown improvement in the treatment of macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Supports the body's natural detoxification systems.
However, eating too much raw kale can adversely affect the body. When Kale is consumed raw, once the gut has broken it down, it releases substances called goitrogens. "These goitrogens that increase the need for iodine when consumed in small amounts and can damage the thyroid gland when consumed in large amounts." This is why cooking kale ensures that we still receive all the benefits but drastically reduce the exposure to goitrogens. So it's probably best to use an alternative green in your smoothies and consider cooking kale.
The kale I find works best for this recipe is Tuscan kale (Lacinato kale). The leaves are a bit more tender than those of regular curly kale but if you can't find Tuscan kale, regular is perfectly fine to use.
Tuscan kale, lentil and mushroom curry:
- Prep time: 5-10 minutes
- Cooking time 45 minutes
- Serves 4-6
- 1 cup red lentils - rinsed
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves - finely minced
- 3 carrots but into bite size pieces
- 1/2 lb cremini mushrooms but into bite size pieces
- 4-5 leaves tuscan kale cut into small pieces, (ribs removed)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 4-6 cups broth (I used bone broth)
- 1 tbsp or more of fresh cilantro chopped or torn by hand.
Preheat a large cast iron or regular pot over medium heat. Add the coconut oil onion and carrots and cook for 8-10 minutes or until onion is translucent but not burned and carrots start to soften. Add the garlic and stir continuously for 30 seconds. Add the spices and cook for another minute. Once the spices are fragrant, add the broth and lentils, salt, pepper and bring to a boil. Next turn heat down, add mushrooms, coconut milk and kale. Cook for 40-45 minutes (or longer if you want softer vegetables) on low heat. Top with fresh cilantro and serve. It tastes even better the next day once the veggies have had time to cozy up to one another.