close   X

10/30/12blog post

what's so “Kool” about Kale?

Kale once scared me. It is a “tough” green to get. How does one really cook this super food? Since kale came to our front door through our Happy Box from Fulton Farms, I made kale chips for my family. It was a simple recipe and actually tasty with being cooked in extra virgin olive oil and garlic salt. The boys tried it:

Patrick said, “This isn’t bad.”

When I asked him, “Would you like more?”

He said, “No thank you.”

Matthew said, “eeww…” as he tried it and Edward just threw it back onto the plate. Alex and I finished the plate full of kale chips and enjoyed them! Each time Patrick tries the chips, he eats more. Recently, he requested the garlic salt version.

Why is kale a super food?? It is FULL of antioxidants and nutrition that promotes health: iron, calcium, copper, dietary fiber, vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, E AND it is low in calories!

Interesting kale facts:

  • Kale is in season now, Autumn, and through the winter. It can survive frost.
  • Calcium is highly absorbable in kale and quite close to that of milk! (83 mg compared to 96 mg respectively).
  • A diet rich in the cabbage family, including kale, may decrease incidence of some cancers.
  • Kale provides 700% of Vitamin K! Research supports Vitamin K in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and increasing bone density.
  • 1 cup of kale provides 36 calories, 7 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 0.5 g fat and 2.6 g fiber

How to prepare kale:

  • Store kale in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
  • Freezing kale will allow you to eat kale all year round.
  • Preparing and sautéing kale involves washing it thoroughly, tearing off the stem and cutting it into small pieces.
  • Braising kale is an alternative skillet method.
  • Blanching kale can reduce the bitterness of kale.
  • Have you heard of massaging kale? This technique breaks down the fibers and makes this “tough” green more palatable.
  • Consider adding it to recipes: soup, salads, rice, pasta, quinoa, smoothies and eat as a snack.

The Dayton Children’s dietitians trialed the following 3 kale recipes. We did bring some home for our children to try, too.

The feedback:

  • What the dietitians like about kale: Nutrition powerhouse; not as bitter as other greens; bright color
    • Helpful kale cooking ideas: Try kale pesto (half kale with half basil); add liberal salt and sugar to recipes; mix with spinach greens


Coconut Kale smoothie (provided to group by Dayton Children’s NICU dietitian, Nancy Nevin-Folino; obtained from:; the recipe was co-created with Naturewell in Los Angeles):

Combine one large frozen banana, 2-3 kale leaves (stalks and all), 1 cup of Coconut Dream, coconut water or coconut milk, 6 ice cubes and 2 pinches of cinnamon in a blender. Blend for 35 seconds. Sweeten with a drop of agave, if needed.

Dietitian thoughts: Consider blending/pureeing MUCH longer than 35 seconds; very tasty. All our children did NOT prefer this while SOME husbands enjoyed it.

Nutrition information (when made with coconut water): 199 calories, 38 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 1 g fat and 3.6 g fiber; Please note: if make with coconut milk: 1 cup will provide approximately 445 calories and 48 g fat.

Kale chips (created by Dayton Children’s Hematology/Oncology dietitian, Shannon Burkett)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Rinse and dry the bunch of kale. Tear up the kale (the kids will have fun with this). Toss with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Lay in a single layer on cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.

Endocrine dietitian, Marisa Vanschuyver suggests adding crushed red pepper flakes and garlic salt (my favorite!) Shannon suggested adding popcorn seasonings/powders in future batches.

Dietitian thoughts: To some, surprisingly tasty! All in all, a fun snack, super yummy, fun texture, strong smell but tasty. Patrick asked for more of Shannon’s kale chips and less of the ones with the crushed red pepper flakes.

Nutrition information for bunch of kale chips (will vary with amount of oil used): approximately 94 calories, 6.7 g carbohydrate, 2.2 g protein, 7.5 g fat and 1.3 g fiber

Massaged kale salad (created by Dayton Children’s Clinical Nutrition Manager, Rachel Riddiford)

1 # kale – wash and pat dry; chop or tear into bite sized pieces

Toss the kale with the following: 1/3 cup diced shallots, ½ cup diced bell or sweet red pepper, 4 tbsp olive oil, ¼ cup lemon juice, ¼ tsp ground thyme, ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp black ground pepper and 3 tbsp sesame seeds.

Massage the dressing into the kale with your hands for about 5 minutes until the kale becomes softened but still with texture. (She had some of her children help with this task.) Serve as is or chill and then serve. Can make one day in advance.

Dietitian thoughts: Very yummy; refreshing; tastes like parsley and other greens; 4 of Rachel’s family of 7 love it, 2 eat it without complaint, one refuses it saying he doesn’t like kale in any version. In my house, I think Alex and I will try this salad recipe and the kids will have to continue to try it.

Nutrient information per the 8-1 cup servings: 116 calories, 8.6 g carbohydrate, 2.75 g protein, 8.8 g fat and 2 g fiber

Now, I think kale will appear on our grocery list more often (especially for those chips). What kale recipes or kale helpful hints would you like to share??

Check out more about kale from this dietitian, Diana Dyer and her kale blog.

I would like to thank the members of the Clinical Dietetic Work Group here at Dayton Children’s for their kale recipes and feedback on kale in their own lives and homes.