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Kale, king of the superfoods

My girls are great little eaters but occasionally there is mutiny in the ranks. Recently, after months of hiding kale in smoothies, I tried serving it as a straightforward vegetable. There was a tentative nibble, followed by an assortment of horrified facial expressions. They would have been happier with a snail sandwich. This was clearly a battle I was not going to win and so I retired with good grace. As tempting as it was to yell “JUST EAT IT!!” along with some kind of expletive (while downing a cocktail), I managed to restrain myself. I have long since learnt that attaching my emotions to how or what my children eat, is not a productive exercise.

However, I had much more success with the LH. He is very open to healthy options but they have got to be tasty. As steamed kale wasn’t quite cutting it, I made a raw kale salad with a tangy sesame dressing and it was an instant win. I’d been playing around with sesame dressing for a while. Harbourfront have a really simple house salad that I order every time because the sesame dressing is so delicious. This isn’t a carbon copy but it’s pretty close and has a real kick. You can whip it up in less than ten minutes so it’s a great last-minute side when you want to bump up the health factor of your BBQ.

Kale, king of the superfoods is packed with fibre, plant based calcium, iron, vitamin C and other cancer-fighting antioxidants. It’s had a hard time in the press recently as it’s also goitrogenic and high in oxalic acid. Goitrogens can suppress thyroid function and oxalic acid can inhibit mineral absorption (e.g. calcium) but don’t scratch kale off your list in a panic. Problems really only occur when people consume lots of goitrogens or foods high in oxalic acid all the time. Regarding goitrogens, they are only really an issue if your thyroid is underactive in the first place. Still this is the reason why I suggest you rotate your greens, i.e. avoid eating or juicing the same thing every day. Both substances are also greatly reduced when food is gently cooked, so that’s also another factor to consider.

There are many sensationalist articles on the web, so there’s no need to cry tears into your vegetable drawer. Kale is a fantastic option, whether steamed or raw, just don’t overdo it! If you have kale as a side one evening, then have green beans the next. Add a cucumber salad, romaine, broccoli and peas into the rotation and you are all set. If you get addicted to the dressing, fear not — it goes really well with other salad leaves too — try it on lambs lettuce, arugula or Wadson’s mixed baby heads. If you are particularly concerned about oxalic acid, note that dinosaur kale (the flat variety) contains less than the curly variety. Delicious!

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the Managing Director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the U.K. Please note that she is not a Registered Dietitian. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda

<p>Kickin’ Kale Salad</p>

Ingredients (serves 2):

6-8 stems kale

1 lemon, juiced

1 tbsp EV olive oil

2 -3 tsps honey, ideally local

2 tsps tahini

Salt/pepper to taste

1 tsp sesame seeds

½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted


1. Prepare the kale by rinsing well and patting dry. Remove the tough middle stem and then slice the leaves into thin ribbons. You can do this roughly, it doesn’t take long. You can alternatively process into small pieces in a food processor. Set to one side.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, tahini and salt/pepper. Pour this over the kale and with clean hands, literally massage it into the kale leaves. Rub it in really well till all the leaves are coated.

3. Add in the sesame seeds and pine nuts and toss into the salad. Keep a few aside to sprinkle on top just before serving.

(You can serve it straight away but you can also leave it marinating in the fridge. Unlike regular salads, kale gets better and softer the longer the dressing soaks into the leaves!)