The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


October 10, 2012

Amanda Stone: Cool weather right time for kale

CARTHAGE, Mo. — There are babies in my garden -- sweet, green, leafy babies. By this time of year, I’m pretty spent with working in the yard. But just a few weeks of looking at the barren dirt inspired me to plant a small fall garden. The highlight this year is kale. It’s easy to grow, it loves cool weather, and it is super good for you.

As far as nutrients per calorie go, you can’t get much better than kale. It’s a cousin of broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprout, and a descendant of wild cabbage, which is clearly where it gets its good looks. Kale is packed with calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and K as well as beta carotene and fiber. You know you love fiber. I could go on and on. The kicker is that it tastes good, too.

Kale likes cool weather so much that a little frost makes it taste even sweeter. I love seeing some green in the garden that is still edible after a frost. Pluck the tender, sweet baby leaves for salads and sandwiches. Use them in place of or in addition to lettuce and spinach. Save the bigger leaves for roasting, sautŽing or dehydrating. Roasted kale is a surprisingly suitable substitute for salty snacks. After drizzling with olive oil, sprinkling with salt and roast, it becomes very light and crispy. Otherwise, treat kale as you would other greens when cooking for a super-food punch. Chop it and toss it in soup or stir-fry, or saute it with bacon and enjoy it as a side dish.

Kale can be found at any farmers market or grocery store. Its shades include green, white and purple, and it can be flat or curly. Any of them will work for your kale needs. If you decide to grow your own kale, keep in mind that it reseeds itself and keeps coming back year after year if you let it. Mine popped up in an undesirable location in my garden. I hate that. Digging it up wasn’t too painful for my soul, because I knew I could throw some more seeds down in the fall.

Kale is a win-win vegetable -- simple to grow, good for you and very tasty.

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