Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve certainly noticed kale has gotten lots of attention from foodies in recent years. It has often been referred to as a superfood, power green, and queen of all greens.
But how healthy is kale really?
As a nutrition consultant, I owe it to myself and my clients to be sceptical about food hypes. I’ve seen people go completely nuts over so-called superfoods like kale, avocado, or coconut water, switching the majority of their daily intake to a single food. This is never a good idea because one single food can’t supply all the nutrients your body needs and VARIETY is key to nutritional health.
However, I won’t say kale isn’t healthy. Because it certainly is! Just like any leafy green vegetable, kale is full of phytonutrients and it should - alongside spinach, chard, arugula, or collard greens - be part of your and your kids’ daily diet.
Health benefits of kale at a glance:
- Raw kale is among the most nutritious of vegetables
- Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, and more vitamin C than spinach
- It’s also high in vitamin K, vitamin A, and potassium
- It’s one of the best suppliers of lutein, a carotenoid protecting our eyes
- It has a proven effect on our cholesterol levels
- It’s also good for the heart, bones, and skin
- It has cancer-protective benefits and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- It’s an excellent source of dietary fiber
How can I make my kids eat kale?
Most kids don’t go wild over leafy greens in general, and kale might be especially hard to introduce to their plates because of its stronger taste.
Below are a few tips to get them to enjoy kale, or to sneak it into their diet:
- Kale chips. These crispy kale chips were my kids’ first encounter with kale, and they were an instant match.
- Kale smoothie. Green smoothies are still the only way for my 3-year-old to eat leafy greens. This idea might seem a bit over the top at first, but I assure you won’t taste it if blended with the right ingredients like banana, mango, or strawberries for instance.
- Mix it into their favourite salad. You might frown at this if your child starts screaming at the sight of a green leaf on his plate. But I can assure that most kids accept salad rather easily. The trick is to keep serving them small amounts of salad, and of course to make it tastier with the right (homemade) dressing. If they like salad you can add some kale to it for extra nutrients (small pieces work best and if it's better to massage them first with olive oil to make them softer).
- Make kale pesto. Add a few leaves to their favourite pesto sauce before blending or make your own kale pesto from scratch.
- Blend kale into a soup. Add a few raw kale leaves right before blending their favourite soup.
- Make it disappear. Another trick is to chop it finely in your food processor and add it to ground meat for meat balls or bolognese.
- Make it sweet. Veggie hiding experts swear by kale popsicles, kale chocolate mousse, kale ice cream, or kale chocolate chip cookies. I’m always open for these kinds of experiments, and I’ll be posting a few on the blog soon. So keep your eyes open!