Photo Credit: Sweet on Veg

What could be more better for the environment than growing, harvesting and eating your own food! As we strive to eat a more plant-based diet, kale is one of the superfoods that is easy to grow and super nutritious! Johnny’s Seed Company in Maine writes: “Famous for exceptional cold tolerance, kale’s flavor is enhanced by frost and cold weather. The frilly hybrids are best for full-size production whereas the open-pollinated varieties, such as Red Russian and Toscano, are also excellent for baby leaf.” In my climate, I sow it in spring and harvest it all summer long and into the fall. I grow it for myself and for my chickens, who can’t seem to get enough of it (and I swear it makes the egg yolks a deep orange color). It seems the more leaves I harvest, the more leaves it grows!

Kale contains the highest levels of antioxidants of all vegetables and is a very good source of Vitamin C. It is rich in calcium, important for healthy bones, and extremely rich in carotenes to protect eyes. WebMD writes: “Kale is a Nutritional Powerhouse. One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients. Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds. Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.”

So, it doesn’t take much to get a bucket full of nutrients! I use it in veggie scrambled eggs, throw a cup or two into veggie stir fries and soups, and use it in morning fruit/vegetable smoothies. If you need some inspiration, try The Book of Kale: The Easy-to-Grow Superfood by Sharon Hanna. This “garden-to-kitchen guide gives readers all they need to know to grow this super-sustainable crop organically – as edible landscaping, on balconies and boulevards and even indoors. And, aspiring locavores take note — purple, silvery-green, frilly, stately Tuscan and rainbow-hued kale can all be grown year-round throughout North America, helping families save hundreds of dollars a year on grocery bills.” Mmmm…and by growing your own food, you are reducing your use of fossil fuels! Good for you nutritionally and great for the environment! Yeah!

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