News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Family and Food: Your Kids Will Eat Kale

JCCHD | Wed, May 09, 2012 | [Family and Food][Healthcare]

KaleKale is a vegetable we are hearing more about as a “Super Food.”  In the past, kale was often found on a dinner plate exclusively as a garnish. Today, kale is moving up in the world as a side dish and even as one of the main ingredients in a meal.

On the 10th season of Food Network’s Iron Chef, kale was placed in the role of the secret ingredient. The versatility of kale displayed by the chefs on the show was inspiring, featuring it as not just a boring sautéed green, but as a mousse, a waffle, a pickled side, and even as a BBQ’d rib. (Yes, the actual rib of the kale, which is normally discarded, was prepared as a traditional BBQ-style pork rib would be). Kale, we hope, is slowly becoming the next star of the show.

One of our dietitians took on a kale challenge recently, making it the focus of “green slime” smoothies, prepared in honor of the famous green slime dumped atop many celebrities during the Kid’s Choice Awards on Nickelodeon. Her children and their friends loved it and didn’t ask once what the ingredients were. All they cared about was that it looked like green slime and tasted good. In fact, they asked for seconds.

So, why is this green becoming so popular? It has many health benefits:
- It is a significant source of vitamins K, A, and C
- It provides a decent amount of calcium
- It is low in calories
- It helps lower cholesterol
- It is anti-inflammatory
- It protects against several types of cancers (bladder, breast, colon, ovary, prostate)
- It helps support detoxification

Kale can also be used in many forms and prepared to provide many different textures.  It is also a great way to expand upon the spinach or broccoli typically used to meet green vegetable intake.  Kale is also a hardy green that is available year round and can even be grown fairly easily and inexpensively in your backyard.

Try introducing this versatile green into your diet with these great recipes:

Green Slime Smoothie
• 1 ½ cups fresh kale
• 1 cup frozen peaches
• 1 small/medium green apple (with skin, cored, cut into chunks)
• 1 banana
• R.W. Knudsen Just Pear juice (start with ½ cup and add more until you reach desired consistency)
Put the apple chunks in the blender, followed by the rest of the ingredients, into a blender and mix well.

Printable PDF

Kale Chips
• 1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes. Serve as finger food.

Printable PDF

Kale, Apple, and Pancetta Salad
Serves: 4
Total prep time 20 minutes

• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 4 ounces sliced pancetta, diced
• 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 small head radicchio, shredded
• 1 8-ounce bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves shredded
• 2 tart yet sweet apples, sliced into thick matchsticks
• 3/4 cup pecans, toasted if desired


Combine the olive oil and pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until pancetta is golden and crispy. Strain the pan drippings into a small bowl and leave the crispy pancetta off to the side to cool. Add the Champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper and whisk well.

Combine the radicchio, kale, apples, and pecans in a large bowl. Toss while adding the dressing, little by little, until salad is well dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with crispy pancetta.

Printable PDF

Kale Apple Pancetta Salad

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