When the graphic designer of my new picture book, L’alphabet à la ferme, sent me pictures to choose for the k word, I honestly did not know which picture of kale was more suitable. I had zero knowledge of kale. I could not identify it, had certainly never bought it, nor ever expressed an interest in the vegetable. That day the lethargy evaporated. If kale was going to be in my book, I vowed that I would become as close to an expert as I could on the subject. Fortunately this post has a word limit which debars a thesis on kale, so you will be spared the gushing of the kale-enthusiast I’ve morphed into, but I will share a few facts that changed the obscure leafy vegetable to a coveted daily dish. And I’ll share my recipe too.
Low on the glycemic index, kale belongs to the Brassica family with vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and collards. Kale is laden with nutrients that puts it high on the list of the world’s healthiest foods, packed with vitamins A, C and K, and calcium. Thus including kale in one’s diet provides nutrients that support healthy skin, hair and bones, as well as healthy digestion and a reduced risk of heart disease. Other health benefits include improving blood glucose control in diabetics, lowering the risk of cancer, lowering blood pressure and lowering the risk of developing asthma. (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270435.phpApril 16, 2016)
Which writer does not need a healthy body or lovely hair for the camera?
My first attempt on the power food bandwagon was to try making kale chips. This was quickly abandoned as the only beneficiary was the trash can. I also did not care for raw kale. Then a simple recipe from my childhood got me eating this super green 5-7 times a week. Because kale appeared similar to choraiya bhagi, aka aramanth leaves, that grew in Trinidad, I thought of sautéing the kale the same way as we did the choraiya. This proved to be the winner.
A serving of kale equals 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked, and one cup of raw kale has only 35 calories. My recipe, however, is based on what I eat at one meal. Because seriously, how do you measure a cup of unruly, curly kale? Anyway, I hope you enjoy this dish.
Recipe for Sauteed Kale
3 stalks kale
1 tsp olive oil (or any cooking oil)
¼ small onion thinly sliced
1 clove garlic crushed (or 2 cloves if you like)
1 tsp cracked pepper (optional)
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
1. Wash kale and pat dry. Trim off the woody stem leaving only the leafy part.
2. Cut leaves into small pieces.
3. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a non-stick skillet (or 2 tsp if using an iron pot).
4. Drop onions in oil and sauté on medium heat with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. When onions becomes soft, turn down heat between medium and low. Add garlic and sauté for one minute. (Note – garlic burns easily so be sure to lower the heat and turn mixture often.)
5. Add kale and salt to onion-garlic in skillet and sauté for one minute uncovered. Kale should begin to wilt and turn bright green.
6. Cover skillet with lid and let kale steam in its juices for 2 minutes. Then remove from heat.
The website https://www.caloriecount.com indicates the calorie count of the ingredients as:
40 calories per tsp of olive oil
zero calories in the salt
5 calories in the cracked pepper
24 calories in the onion
4 calories in one clove of garlic
Kale can be eaten as a side dish with any meal or as a filling in a pita wrap. Delicious. In Trinidad we ate the choraiya bhagi with roti, or as a side dish to split peas and rice. Yummm.
Just rambling – I tried to slice the onions as best as I can but I realize I do not have onion slicing skills for good photography. I also use a small iron pot I brought from Trinidad to cook my kale. The quarter tsp measure is available in stores.
K is for kale. Who knew writing a children’s picture book would spin off such rewards?
SUSAN HARRIS is the author of eight books. Her newest release is L’alphabet à la ferme from Borealis Press and the first of her books to be translated in French. The English version, Alphabet on The Farm has 50% different pictures from the French edition.