Kale to the Rescue

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Times like these call for food superheroes: foods that are tasty, healthy, easy to fix and -- most of all -- cheap. And, if it's your thing, easy to grow, too. And that's where kale comes in.

Kale is one of the more unappreciated leafy greens, playing second fiddle to its more well-known cousins like spinach and cabbage. And that's a shame, really. Kale is not only far cheaper, but it's just as simple to fix and delicious to boot.

Kale is one of the hardiest, and therefore easiest, vegetables to grow. It takes to nearly any soil and is extremely cold resistant (not that you really have to worry about that in Houston). In fact, kale actually tastes better after having been exposed to frost, thus it will keep in your freezer quite nicely, unlike most greens. As a result, kale is a staple vegetable throughout areas with colder climates, such as northern Europe and the northern United States. But that's no reason we can't enjoy it down here.

In addition to being easy to grow, kale's nutritional value is nearly unrivaled. It contains nearly an entire daily serving of Vitamin A (beta carotene) and Vitamin C, as well as high amounts of protein, Vitamin K, iron, calcium and Vitamin B6. Kale also boasts cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory nutrients, making it one of the healthiest foods you can eat.

Rounding out kale's trifecta of awesomeness is the fact that it's so damn cheap. You can land it for about $1.50 a bunch at most grocery stores, but it's even cheaper at places like Canino's on Airline and any old Fiesta. And unlike spinach, kale doesn't shrink up when you cook it -- at least, not as much as spinach does -- so that bunch that you're buying will easily feed three or four people.

Now that I've sold you on kale, you're probably looking for some recipes, right? My favorite kale recipe is below -- quick, simple and delicious -- but should you find yourself digging kale as much as I do, you'll want to find a multitude of ways to incorporate it into your meals. The folks at I Heart Kale feel the same way and have put together an entire blog of nothing but kale recipes (there's even an enormous gluten-free section, too!).

Garlicky Kale

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly chopped garlic
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • splash of water
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes

Pour the olive oil into a large pan (I like to use a large saucier pan) that was preheated over medium-high heat (you want the pan hot before you pour the olive oil in). When the olive oil is hot, add the chopped garlic and allow to saute.

Tear the kale into bite sized pieces. Some people don't like the stems, but they're perfectly okay to include. Just keep in mind that they don't cook as fast as the kale leaves. Put the kale into the pan with the garlic and mix well with tongs. Add a splash of water into the pan and cover, allowing the kale to steam.

After five minutes, remove the cover and add pinch of salt and pinch of red pepper flakes (you can leave these out if you don't want your kale hot 'n' spicy). Mix well with tongs and cover again.

After another five minutes, the kale should be wilted and bright green. Plate with your choice of sides (I like salmon and couscous for a super quick and healthy dinner) and enjoy!

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