Roll out your yoga mat, shot back some wheat grass and ready yourself for a whirl wind tour of kale!  

It took me a while to take to kale, probably because all at once everyone was telling me how super it was. A stubborn child when it comes to group think and greens. 

The modern love for kale is nothing new. It and has been a staple around the world for thousands of years. It’s hearty, it’s tough. It’s full of nutrients and it grows easily in inhospitable spots. Kale has been used as a bridging crop for centuries, as it continues to thrive long into winter after other crops have failed. Not only is it a life saver for the livestock come winter, it’s better for humans in the colder seasons too! The kale crop will sweeten after the first frost, as this starts to turn the starches into sugars. 

The wellness warriors were right about it being super food, the coarse green leaves of kale contain more vitamin C pound for pound than an oranges!  Kale is one of most nutrient-dense vegetables, packed with vitamins A, C, E, K, B6 as well as iron, folate, manganese, calcium and omega-3. One cup of chopped raw kale give you 100% of your vit A and K for the day! Because of the high concentrations of lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and vitamin A, kale helps to keep your retina healthy. It can even help protect your baby blues from ultraviolet light! The popular Scottish idiom, to be ‘off ones kail’ means to be feeling poorly or off your food. More kale, that'll sort you out!

Cultivated in the Mediterranean since 2000 BCE, modern kale owes its ancestry to what the Romans called Sabellian kale. “Kale” originates from the old English word for cabbage; cale, coming from the Latin, caulis.  

In Kenya, kale is grown by many households and is cooked in the traditional side dish Sukuma wiki; which translates to ‘stretch the week’, meaning the hearty crop from the backyard helps stretch the resources to make ends meet. Various kale types are eaten throughout south-eastern Africa, where they are typically boiled with coconut milk and ground peanuts and boiled cornmeal (Upthulu). 

If you find kale too tough, you can soften the leaves with a light massage – the gentle rubbing tenderizes. If your partner catches you massaging the brassica and gives you a funny look, just tell them to wait their turn. Plus, you’re making dinner, so who’s to complain? 

To store: Place kale unwashed in a sealed bag in the crisper drawer. Best used very fresh, but may last for a week. 

To prep: Wash leaves in basin of lukewarm water to remove grit. If your greens have thick stems, its best to remove them. Fold each leaf in half and slice out the stem.   

To freeze: Blanch washed greens for 2-3 minutes. Rinse in cold ice water, drain, and pack into airtight containers.  

Kale recipes 

-Morogo – A mixture of stewed greens, curry, peri peri, potatoes and green peppers 

-West African jollof rice 

-Portuguese caldo verde soup 

-Sri Lankan kale mallung 

-Tuscan ribollita soup 

-Boerenkoolstamppot: Kale and mashed potatoes, served with rookworst, traditional to the Netherlands. 

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