Kale has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. In fact, in 19th century Scotland, “kali” was the name given to kale. Kale is a member of the Brassica oleracea var acephala family–the same family that provides collards, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
Kale, as with parsley, had previously been treated as the step-child of the dinner plate, resigned to sitting on the edge of the plate as a garnish. But this is not the case any longer. Kale has been identified as one of the most nutritionally dense foods on earth.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman created a tool for measuring the aggregate nutritional density of a food, called the ANDI score. He ranked the nutrient values of foods based on 34 nutritional parameters, and devised a formula to measure the results. His equation H=N/C (health = nutrition divided by calories) has been since accepted as the norm in nutritional analysis of foods.
The ANDI score ranks a food from 1 – 1000 in terms of it’s nutritional density (1 being the worst; 1000 being the best). Kale ranks 1000; soda ranks 1. For comparison, consider other foods’ ANDI scores: salmon, bananas, and eggs are all 31; corn is 45; sweet potatoes are 181; cauliflower is 315; romaine is 510 and spinach is 707.
One cup of raw, chopped kale provides only 33.5 calories with no sodium, fat, cholesterol, or gluten. This powerful green serves 684% of the daily value of Vitamin K and 206% of the daily value of Vitamin A, which is essential for skin and vision. It also provides 134% of the daily value of Vitamin C. Other nutritional benefits of kale are it’s supply of minerals. Unfortunately, most of us do not monitor our mineral intake as we should. One cup of kale provides 26% manganese, 10% copper, and 9% potassium of the daily value.
Kale comes in a few varieties with curly kale and lacinato being the most popular and recognizable. Curly kale has green leaves that curl on the ends with a light peppery flavor, somewhat akin to arugula. Lacinato, or dinosaur kale, is a dark blue-green color, is flat and wrinkled. It is a bit sweeter than curly kale. Another variety is the Red Russian which is flat and fringed on the ends, resembling a large arugula leaf; it’s stems have a red hue to them and it is sweeter than curly and lacinato. Redbor kale, which is not as common, is a dark, red/purple plant that resembles rainbow chard.
Egg it On
This recipe includes another power-punch of vitamins and minerals from the egg. Unfortunately, controversy continues to plague the egg, but recent research indicates that while the majority of the fat and cholesterol are in the yolk, it is the saturated fat, not the dietary cholesterol that impacts HDL. Consuming whole eggs, in moderation, is a nutritious way to incorporate thirteen essential vitamins and minerals into the diet, as well as high-quality protein.
Eggs Make the Grade
Selecting eggs used to be easy. There were two choices: large or jumbo. Now, as consumers have become more astute to nutrition, farmers are choosing from a variety of methods in raising hens, as well as the foods they consume.
Eggs are graded according to three criteria: the overall egg content proportion, the thick white, the thin white, and the yolk placement and elevation. Grade AA eggs have an egg content that covers a small area; the thick white is firm; there is a small amount of thin white and the yolk is centered, round and elevated. Grade A eggs have a moderate amount of egg content; the thick white is semi-firm with a considerable amount visible; the thin white is of medium content and the yolk is round and elevated. Grade B eggs have a wide area of egg content; the thick white is significant and watery; the thin white is much greater than in Grade AA or A eggs and the yolk is wide and flat.
Brown vs White Egg
The difference between a brown and white egg is the hen. Hens with red feathers and red ear lobes lay brown eggs; white hens with white feathers and white ear lobes lay white eggs. Mystery solved. No matter which grade egg or color is used, the nutritional value remains the same.
Selecting eggs is a personal choice, as is the selection of most of our foods. The options are numerous: cage-free, free-range, organic, grain-fed, and so on. As with most foods, choosing the cleanest, most wholesome version is recommended. Another consideration is humane care of the animal. According to the HFAC, Humane Farm Animal Care organization, there are a few humane-certified egg brands/companies that have met HFAC’s certification for humane treatment of hens. Some of these go beyond being certified as organic and some are not organic but certified as humane: Vital Farms, Kirkland(Costco), Backyard Egg, Safeway/Albertson’s (Lucerne, O-Organics, Open Nature), Pete & Jerry’s, Nellie’s, Wilcox, Phil’s Fresh Eggs, and Stiebrs Farms. As for freshness, eggs are dated by the Julian date which indicates the date the eggs were packed. The Julian date starts with January 1 as 001 and ends with December 31 as 365. Most egg cartons have a P-plus three-digit number, then the Julian date. The P-XXX number is the packaging plant identification.
This recipe is quick and easy! Ideal for mornings “on the go”; cut in half and save the other half for later! See the recipe notes for additional tasty ingredients.
Kale and Egg Wrap (serves 1)
2 large kale leaves
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers, sliced
1 whole grain tortilla
1 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
- Wash, pat dry and remove stems from kale
- Chop kale into bite size pieces
- In a bowl, coat kale with lemon juice; toss to coat
- In a skillet, heat oil and chili peppers on medium
- Toss kale in oil; continue to move kale around with tongs, coating it with oil and peppers; about 3-5 minutes
- Remove kale and set aside
- Turn heat down on skillet; add beaten eggs (or egg whites)
- Constantly stirring in an “8” pattern, cook eggs to desired consistency
- Place kale on wrap; add eggs; add red pepper slices; top with Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Organic, Non-GMO ingredients are recommended
- Stand back when the kale hits the skillet. Lemon juice and oil will create a big steam
- Egg whites may be substituted for whole eggs; use 4 egg whites to one whole egg
- Tofu, tempeh, or black beans may be substituted for eggs
- Whole grain tortillas or Flatout® low calorie/low carb flatbreads work well
- Kale cooks down like spinach; if you prefer more kale, use 4 leaves instead of two
- Dress this recipe up as you see fit: tomatoes, onions, shredded carrots, cucumbers, avocado, salsa, flax, pumpkin seeds, quinoa
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