King Kale

King Kale

What’s leafy, green and packs a mean nutrient punch? That would be kale, the new darling of the vegetable world. Kale is from the same plant species as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, but these days it seems to have leapt off the winter vegetable list and found its way into every second salad, side or smoothie you order.

Its popularity has to do with its high nutrient value. Kale is celebrated by health-conscious cooks for its high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin K and vitamin C. Like all leafy greens kale is also an excellent source of plant-based calcium, and can help you maintain good digestive health.

While kale has quickly become Australia’s leafy green du jour, it’s been popular in European countries for generations: before the Middle Ages it was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. Kale is a staple of several traditional Dutch dishes; while in Ireland it’s mixed with mashed potatoes to make colcannon, a festive dish typically served with sausages on Halloween.

If you’re interested in exploring the health benefits of kale, perhaps skip the bangers and mash and instead add a side of steamed greens to your next meal (steaming or stir-frying kale helps to lock in maximum nutrients). You can also bake torn kale leaves in a 180-degree Celsius oven for 10-15 minutes to make crispy kale chips: sprinkle with chilli, paprika and parmesan for a nutritious alternative to potato chips. Kale also freezes well, so don’t throw out your excess leaves – pop them in the freezer for when the next green smoothie craving strikes.