Kale: More Than Just a Garnish

Used to decorate platters for ages, kale’s nutritional attributes and culinary traits cannot be overlooked. Rather than turn away from this misunderstood and underestimated green, embrace this versatile and nutrient-dense veggie. A single cup of chopped kale has about 33 calories and is packed with essential nutrients like vitamins K, A, and C. It provides an excellent source of potassium along with a good dose of calcium, iron, and folate. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable and is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Many different varieties of kale range in color, shape, and textures. The most common types of kale include:

  • Curly Kale is curly and dense with a pungent and peppery flavor.
  • Tuscan/luctino kale, also known as dinosaur kale, has a mild flavor, making it ideal for raw salads.
  • Red Russian Kale has a mild, nutty flavor that is slightly sweet and earthy with a hearty texture.
  • Baby kale is more tender and lettuce-like.

Kale can be sautéed, steamed, or stir fried, used in soups, casseroles, or quiche.

Enjoy kale in a salad or in a smoothie. The options are endless. Remember, if a recipe calls for spinach or another leafy green, most times kale makes a superb substitute. Like other greens, kale will greatly reduce in volume when cooked. Due to its dense texture, kale takes a bit more time to wilt and soften than its cousins.

Get creative with Kale….

  • For a healthy snack for the entire family, trade in the potato chips for these Crispy Kale Chips for just 75 calories/serving.
  • This flavorful Orecchiette with Kale and Pancetta recipe offers fun and flavor to a summer meal. With sundried tomatoes and plenty of garlic, this simple pasta dish will become a favorite. Boost the protein content by tossing in some cannellini beans.
  • When you are looking for a quick boost of energy or an on-the-go breakfast, pull out the blender and whip up this Green Smoothie filled with nutritious kale and healthful fruits.
  • Sometimes soup hits the spot, even in the middle of a heat wave. Crank the air conditioning and enjoy this White Bean and Kale Soup. Packed with protein and fiber, this powerhouse soup can be made in 30 minutes.
  • Add chopped kale to any stir fry for added color and nutrition.
  • Enjoy kale in this Farmers’ Market Frittata for a high-protein breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This delicious baked omelet is packed with summertime favorites, including zucchini and tomatoes.
  • Make a quick Kale Pesto: In a food processor, pulse 2 cups of torn kale and parsley (mixed according to taste), ½ cup of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt (optional/to taste), 1 clove of garlic and the juice of 1 lemon until smooth. Add ¼ to ½ cup raw almonds and pulse again until the almonds are ground to desired consistency. Makes 1 cup. Use on pasta, pizza or on a sandwich.
  • Try this Sweet Kale Salad with Poppyseed Dressing featured below and served at Jill’s free, nutrition program in June!


  • 4 cups chopped curly kale
  • 2 cups shredded brussels sprouts
  • 2 cups broccoli slaw
  • 3 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 3 Tablespoon roasted and salted pepitas

Creamy Poppyseed Dressing:

  • ½ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • Salt to taste/optional


  1. Make dressing: Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Mix salad: Prep salad by adding chopped kale, shredded brussel sprouts, and slaw into a large bowl. Toss with half of the dressing, then add more as needed.
  3. Add toppings and enjoy: Top salad with dried cranberries and pepitas and serve.

Nutrition: 6 servings/ 1 1/3 cup each 140 calories, 7 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol 40 milligrams sodium, 18 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 12 grams sugar, 5 grams protein

Values listed represent a statistical nutritional analysis. There are natural variations that occur in all recipes; these figures may not be exact and are provided for informational purposes only.

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