Nature's Multivitamin

Nature's Multivitamin

Last night on “House,” Wilson appeared to be starting a healthy eating regimen. Unfortunately this all turned out to be a ruse to fool House, but, I was appalled when Dr. House snubbed Wilson’s brown bag lunch consisting of kale!

While I am a big fan of “House,” I couldn’t help but think what doctor in their right mind would not think kale was a great vegetable? Now that I think about it, Dr. House is not actually in his right mind, and therefore, cannot be taken seriously in his assault on kale.

In 1 cup of cooked, chopped kale you get the following:

Calories: 36

Low calorie and nutrient dense…

Calcium: 94 mg

The kind you can absorb from vegetables!

Potassium: 296 mg

Potassium is responsible for maintaining the electrochemical gradients across our cells (along with sodium) and thus, it is an essential nutrient for proper nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and proper heart functioning. The current recommendation for healthy adults over the age of 14 is 4700mg/day.

Vitamin C: 53 mg

Almost an entire day’s worth

Vitamin A: 17707 IU

If this looks like a lot, it is. The average adult >19 years needs 2,333 IU, but, its mostly in the form of beta carotene, which is not toxic to the body (though you might turn a little orange if you eat a lot of beta carotene on a regular basis)

Lutein & Zeaxanthin: 23,720 mcg

There is no RDA for these specific carotenoids (yet), studies have shown that those people with higher consumption of these nutrients (about 6,716 micrograms per day) had an 18 % lower chance of developing cataracts. This amount is about 3 1/2 times that amount!

Vitamin K: 1062 mcg

There is no RDA for vitamin K either, but rather an “Adequate Intake” (AI) on account of the questionable contribution that the bacteria in our guts make to our overall vitamin K pool. The AI is set at 120 mcg for adult males, and 90 mcg for adult females. Vitamin K is necessary for the proper functioning of several proteins involved in blood clotting.

The other great thing about kale is that it contains those sulforaphanes that I mentioned in my post on broccoli. 1 cup chopped has about 67 mg of glucosinates, and some of these are thought to have anti-cancer properties..

So, how can you incorporate this super vegetable into your diet?

Lately, I have been using it in soups, but, I am also a big fan of sauteing it. Last month, the New York Times featured several kale recipes. The recipe below by Martha Rose Schulman came out great, though I did change a few ingredients to what I had on hand.

(Original Recipe appeared on on March 5, 2009)

Barley Soup With Mushrooms and Kale

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

2 cups boiling water

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced thick

2 large garlic cloves, minced

Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste

3/4 cup whole or pearl barley

1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or water

A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme and parsley, and a bay leaf and a Parmesan rind

8 to 10 ounces kale (regular or cavolo nero), stemmed and washed thoroughly

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl or a Pyrex measuring cup, and pour on two cups boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes. Set a strainer over a bowl, and line it with cheesecloth. Lift the mushrooms from the water and squeeze over the strainer, then rinse in several changes of water. Squeeze out the water and set aside. Strain the soaking water through the cheesecloth-lined strainer. Add water as necessary to make two cups. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until just about tender, about five minutes, and add the sliced fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are beginning to soften, about three minutes, and add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue to cook for about five minutes, until the mixture is juicy and fragrant. Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms, the barley, the mushroom soaking liquid, and the stock or water. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Meanwhile, stack the kale leaves in bunches and cut crosswise into slivers. Simmer the bouquet garni during the 45 minute simmering, then pull it out when the soup is done.

3. Add the kale to the simmering soup, and continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes. The barley should be tender and the broth aromatic. The kale should be very tender. Remove the bouquet garni, taste and adjust salt, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and serve.

Yield: 6 – 8 servings