The Calcium Kale Connection: Grow & Eat Leafy Greens Series 4/5
Kale makes me happy.
It’s a veggie that does TRIPLE duty:
1) Grows anywhere.
2) Filled with nutrients.
3) Easy to include in meals.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF KALE
According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. He developed a food ranking system based on nutrients per calorie. The higher the levels of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) in a food, the higher the ranking. 1000 is the highest possible rating. Here are some sample ratings:
Collard greens 1000
Romaine lettuce 510
White bread 17
Low fat cheddar cheese 11
Corn chips 7
(You can click here for details on which micronutrients were included in the ratings.)
Why do I care so much about micronutrients? “Micronutrients fuel proper functioning of the immune system and enable the detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms that protect us from chronic diseases,” writes Dr. Fuhrman on his website. To sum it up: micronutrients help keep our structure stable and our systems functioning at optimal levels. They play key roles in all of our body structures and functions including bone health, eye sight, immune function, nervous system, etc, etc.
Want strong bones? Eat more greens.
I’ve been seeing more and more information lately about how the consumption of green vegetables helps prevent osteoporosis.
” Fruits and vegetables strengthen bones. Researchers found that those who eat the most fruits and vegetables have denser bones. These researchers concluded that fruits and vegetables are not only rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and other nutrients essential for bone health, but, because they are alkaline, not acid-producing, they do not induce urinary calcium loss. Green vegetables, in particular have a powerful effect on reducing hip fractures, for they are not only rich in calcium, but other nutrients as well, such a vitamin K, which is crucial for bone health.” “Green vegetables also have calcium absorption rates of over 50 percent, compared with about 32 percent for milk. And, since animal protein induces calcium excretion in the urine, compared to dairy, the calcium retention from vegetables is higher. All green vegetables are high in calcium.”
~ Dr. Joel Fuhrman
“…eat plenty of vegetables such as broccoli and collard greens. These super-foods contain a good amount of calcium, without the drawbacks of high protein. One cup of broccoli, for example, contains 178 milligrams of calcium, while 5 dried figs have 135. With a target of perhaps 800 milligrams of plant-derived calcium a day, it’s not difficult to fill your quota. And here’s a plus: vegetables contain boron, a mineral that helps keep calcium in the bones. Milk contains virtually none.”
~ T. Colin Campbell, PhD
Raw kale contains 150mg of calcium per 100g.
How much kale to eat?
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn recommends eating leafy greens (not all kale) 6 times a day for people with serious cardiovascular problems. For the rest of us, he recommends eating as much as we can. For me that means breakfast smoothies, substantial luncheon salads, a big side of greens with a veggie burger, a casserole or stew with greens.
I can do greens with every meal, dude, every meal.
HOW TO GROW KALE
Psshhhaw! Its the easiest thing to grow, especially in colder climates. No doubt most people who have grown kale have experienced MONSTER KALE. This stuff likes to get big and doesn’t need much help doing it. If you live in a southern climate (e.g. Georgia), it will do better during your colder season. Kale is perfect for the fall garden further north because it is cold hardy and leaves become sweeter once touched by cold weather.
You can start kale indoors or seed it directly into workable soil as early as possible in the spring. Seeds can be sown every 2 weeks for continuous harvesting. Its a good idea not to plant it all at once – many a gardener has lamented the arrival of so much kale they don’t know what to do with it.
Days to maturity will vary between about 45-60. Baby leaves can be picked much sooner than when the plant reaches ‘maturity’. So choose your seed types according to the following:
-how long your cool season is
-whether you want to pick baby leaves or mature leaves
There are lots of types of kale (Brassicaceae family) to choose from: curly, flat leaf, lacinato (lacy)/frilly, purple-ish, red, black/dark, russian, dwarf.
EATING KALE – AND LOTS OF IT!
Kale can be eaten raw, steamed, or cooked. Baby leaves are more tender and less pungent than older leaves.
– steamed on the side (plain or with a sauce)
– raw in a sandwich
– raw in a smoothie
– raw in a salad
– raw pieces rubbed/massaged and eaten in a salad (works well to soften older tougher leaves)
– chopped pieces on a pizza
– chopped pieces in your pasta
– chopped pieces in soups and stews
– chopped pieces in casseroles
– baked and eaten as a snack – kale chips
– dried into a powder and added to soups and stews
Here is my own favorite kale smoothie recipe: Kale Blueberry Vanilla Smoothie
I picked some fresh garden kale and added it to a nice Ethopian lentil stew served up with homemade teff bread. I used this recipe from veganricha.com. Her method is for making a pizza but I just used the topping as a stew and the pizza shell as a focaccia-style loaf of bread. Its a wonderfully delicious combo that wouldn’t be complete without the added bits of kale.
Here are some more kale recipes:
http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/03/african-pineapple-peanut-stew.html (this one is especially kid friendly)