Friday, June 15, 2012

Eat More Kale!

Gardening is America's number one hobby in terms of money spent on supplies and time invested. One of the great things about growing plants is cultivating edible items to cook and prepare. Common sense tells us that eating greens and vegetables is healthy, plus, what could be more satisfying than growing your own? Let's talk about one green in particular and then see my homemade greenhouse to grow my own indoors. Behold, the nutritional powerhouse, kale.
Loaded with nutrients and fiber, but having few calories, kale is a dieter's friend and a great filler in soups, stews, salads, and other dishes. It is more fibrous than spinach, with a similar flavor and can be used in many recipes. One of my favorites was the kale and white bean soup that was served in my college cafeteria. If you are new to kale and want to try it raw, it might be best to mix it in with other greens in a salad. Personally, I like to cook a large batch of kale in the microwave, then saute it with olive oil and garlic. This cooked kale freezes well or can be kept in the refrigerator to be added to pasta, pizza, soup, or casseroles. It is fantastic in rice dishes and I even add it to mac 'n cheese!

My Indoor Kale Mini-Greenhouse

Kale seeds can be purchased at any garden center, or you can find heirloom varieties online. Above, you can see my growing station to grow my own indoor kale and lettuce. I live in an apartment, so I need to cultivate my greens indoors. I use a jumbo lasagna pan filled with potting soil and plant food. The plastic lid keeps the cat out and the humidity in while the seeds are germinating. When the greens are about 5-6 inches tall, I harvest them and add a fresh 1/2 inch or so of potting soil to the top of the pan, along with plant food, as instructed on the label.

If you like kale, but don't want to grow your own, try the farmer's markets in Murfreesboro or Nashville. You might get kale in a CSA box if you participate with a local farm. Kale makes a wonderful addition to many cooked and raw dishes. You can even use it in green smoothies or homemade juices. Here's to healthy eating and fun cooking in Tennessee!

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