By Julie Mathiasen
A lot of people think of kale as a cool season crop but on our coastside we can grow kale year-round. We grow it year-round at , and I grow kale all year in El Granada where I live.
The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around. Kale has 36 calories per one cup serving.
Although it can be found in markets throughout the year, kale is in season from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring when it has a sweeter taste and is more widely available.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts that have gained recent widespread attention due to their health promoting, sulfur-containing phyto nutrients.
It is very easy to grow. Kale grows to 30 inches tall with long, upright, curly, ruffled leaves used as “greens.” Kale grows very fast, because you’re not harvesting a flower or a fruit, you’re harvesting mere leaves. You can harvest it all through the growing season, taking leaves as needed, while letting the plant live to keep making more.
Kale does not form a head like cabbage. It grows almost everywhere and thrives in cool weather. The plant will continue to grow when the outer side leaves are picked off for cooking.
Kale is very high in vitamin K and vitamin A and is a great leafy vegetable that is said to help prevent cancer. Human population studies consistently show that diets high in cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, are associated with lower incidence of a variety of cancers, including lung, colon, breast and ovarian cancer.
Sulforaphane, the sulphur-containing phytonutrient that is formed when cruciferous vegetables such as kale are chopped or chewed, triggers the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals, inhibits chemically induced breast cancers, and induces colon cancer cells to cease.
Roasted kale leaves are a popular way to eat kale. To roast kale leaves, coat the leaves with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and sesame seed. Roast in oven at 250 degrees until crispy. Store in an airtight container to keep leaves crisp.
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