Let's Talk About: The king of super foods

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This green-leafy vegetable may not wear a superhero costume, but as far as nutrition goes, it is a champion.

Kale, like most vegetables, is naturally low in fat and calories. Its mild cabbage flavor is no surprise because it belongs to the Brassica family, which includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Kale is full of vitamin A for healthy skin and eyes, vitamin C to protect against infections, vitamin K for strong bones and calcium and other minerals to help keep a balanced nutrition. The dark green color of kale is rich in chlorophyll and fiber, which helps with proper bowel function.

Kale is a hearty vegetable that can be grown during cold temperatures and can withstand frost. During World War II, growing kale was encouraged by the Dig for Victory Campaign. These "war gardens" were planted so people could reduce eating from the public food supply and allow gardeners to contribute to their community. The vegetable was easy to grow and provided nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet.

The USDA recommends eating 1/2 cup of green leafy vegetables each day. Some picky eaters may not like the crisp bite of raw kale. However, it becomes tender once cooked. We like to make Kale Chips for our visitors in the Science Center's Kitchen Theater.

Gently wash kale leaves and pat dry. Have kids rip the leaves into small 1-inch pieces and compost the stems. After ripping about 6-8 cups (you'll eat them all), add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Stir and coat evenly. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Finish with herbs or spices -- about 1 or 2 tablespoons. Basil and oregano are a crowd favorite at the Science Center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, flip, and bake 8 minutes more. Allow to cool and enjoy.


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