On National Kale Day, how will you kaleabrate?
Doughnuts have their day. So do hot dogs. Even Cheese Doodles. Isn’t it only fair to give kale its own day as well? Faster than you can say curly-leafed green goodness comes Wednesday, the third annual National Kale Day.
National Kale Day even has an Indiana connection – its creator Dr. Drew Ramsey, co-author of the cookbook “50 Shades of Kale," is an Indiana University School of Medicine alumnus – so it should come as no surprise that Indianapolis has a so-called kaleabration of its own, spearheaded by Eskenazi Health.
In honor of National Kale Day, here's a quick rundown.
King Kale. A member of the cabbage family, kale contains about 33 calories per one cup serving. But that one cup provides 134 percent of your daily vitamin C needs, 684 percent of your daily vitamin K needs and 204 percent of your vitamin A needs. All this, plus 3 grams of protein.
“Kale,” said Dr. Lisa Harris, Eskenazi’s chief executive officer, “is the king of green vegetables.”
What eating kale can do for your health. Rich in fiber and flavonoids, kale has been linked in studies to lowering the risk of certain cancer and contributing to weight loss. It also contains substances that can lower cholesterol. Kale is also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that lower a person’s risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
The one caveat comes for people who take blood thinners. Kale is rich in vitamin K, which can make blood thinners less effective. If you fall in this category, check with your doctor before consuming kale. People who keep their green vegetable intake at a steady level can eat kale if their doctors adjust their dose accordingly, said Harris, who serves on the advisory council of Team Kale, the group that brings us National Kale Day.
Kale, the plant, is durable. Kale’s growing season begins in early spring and will continue to produce late into winter. After a frost, kale becomes sweeter, according to a website that Ramsey started to promote the vegetable, which has been cultivated for 6,000 years.
When you can buy organic kale, it’s best to do so, the website says. Because kale is hardy and cheap to grow, organic is often about the same price as non-organic and kale falls on the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen list” of the 12 foods with the most pesticides.
Kale, the food, is versatile. While cooking will leach the nutrients out of many vegetables, you’re safe cooking kale for 10 to 15 minutes at high heat or 35 minutes at lower heat. You can add kale to salads, smoothies, soups, or eat it on its own.
Recipes for kale abound. Perhaps the simplest way to eat this vegetable is to throw it in a smoothie or toss it with olive oil and salt and pop it in the oven to make kale chips.
But if you’re looking for something slightly more involved, try these kalesicles, recipe courtesy of Piazza Produce. Blend together two cups kale, four cups fresh pineapple chunks, one cup orange juice and one-quarter cup honey until smooth. Pour into a muffin pan, cover with aluminum foil and poke a hole with a straw or popsicle stick. Freeze at least four hours before eating.
Local kaleabrations. Yes, they're called kaleabrations. Eskenazi Health will host a kale party Wednesday, featuring kale grown on the Downtown hospital’s rooftop Sky Farm. The event, 11 a.m. to 1:30 pm. on The Commonground, will include free samples of foods made with kale and a giveaway of hundreds of kale plants to participants. The hospital’s eateries also will feature foods with kale, including kale grilled cheese and kale salmon cakes. Eskenazi Health also will hand out kale on Monument Circle, all in the interest of getting people to eat more kale.
“We know all the things that make behavioral change hard, so we’re trying to do everything we can to make it easy,” Harris said. “We’re trying to get away from talking about what’s bad in food and focus on what’s good in food.”
If you want to celebrate but can’t make it to the circle, you can always do it virtually and participate in the National Kale Day Twitter Party from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday hosted by @NationalKaleDay. Or just make some kale chips at home.
Call Star reporter Shari Rudavsky at (317) 444-6354. Follow her on Twitter: @srudavsky.