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Vegan for the Holidays

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 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

Kale Is King

Confetti Kale Salad recipe appears below.

Kale, a high-ranking member of the cruciferous family, is king in the world of nutritious leafy greens. Though it has recently become the trendiest of the leafy greens, kale easily proves its worth. Hidden within its deep green leaves are an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that work to keep us healthy.

Greens deliver health benefits
While kale is very low in calories and fat (36 calories for 1 cup and 0 fat), it's high in fiber to help fill us up in a healthful way and keep us satisfied.

This leafy green, noted for its high antioxidant level, actually tops the scale, alongside collard, mustard, and turnip greens, for nutrient density. The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index Scale, a system that assesses foods based on their nutrient content, shows that kale has a score of 1000, the highest score a food can receive.

According to registered dietitian Cheryl Harris of Harris Whole Health in Fairfax, Virginia, research indicates that kale contains 45 different flavonoids that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities to inhibit the growth of cancer. Consuming high levels of antioxidants is associated with a lowered risk of some cancers, such as breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancer. Antioxidant carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin may provide protection from UV rays that can contribute to cataracts.

Kale is considered an anti-inflammatory food that helps fight chronic diseases like arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune disorders. One cup of kale contains 10% of the RDA for omega 3 fatty acids, a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient.

Harris also says, "Cancer studies seem to show that raw kale is more beneficial than cooked, while cholesterol studies seem to show that steamed kale is more beneficial than raw." She recommends including both raw and cooked kale in our diets.

Better than beef
Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat to Live, The End of Diabetes, and Disease-Proof Your Child, says, "Kale is the new beef … because green vegetables should be the centerpiece of our plates, not meat. And yes, green vegetables are an excellent protein source, and are health-promoting unlike beef."

Kale is also an excellent source of calcium, iron, potassium, copper, vitamin C, and folate, and excels in vitamin A with 6693 IU for 1 cup and vitamin K with 472.2 mcg for 1 cup. Antioxidants include beta carotene, alpha carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Kale makes an outstanding salad But kale is not always easy to eat. Have you ever encountered a kale salad cut or torn into pieces that are so large they're downright unmanageable? It's an unwieldy challenge that kale enthusiasts have sometimes had to tangle with. Imagine a newcomer to the trendy kale scene trying to chew those colossal kale pieces politely.

I vowed to create a kale salad that would never pose a challenge to eat with style and grace. The ideal solution was to compose a designer kale salad with mini bits of kale, along with other veggies that accent the salad with bright, colorful highlights that offer a variety textures and flavors.

This colorful, confetti-enhanced salad makes kale a delight to eat. With the kale, carrots, and bell peppers finely pulse-chopped in the food processor, none pose fine dining challenges. Adding contrast and color accents to the salad are the larger chopped pieces of the remaining ingredients.

I find that a savory, creamy dressing best complements this salad.

Confetti Kale Salad


Yield: 4 to 5 servings

    1 large bunch kale

    1 large carrot, peeled
    1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
    1 yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
    4 cups (1 liter) bite-size chopped green cabbage

    2 Fuyu persimmons, sliced into thin wedges
    1 (15-ounce, 424g) can sliced beets, drained or whole beets, quartered
    1/2 avocado, cut into bite size pieces

  1. Wash the kale thoroughly, dry it, and tear the leaves off the center ribs. Discard the ribs. Put about half the kale into a food processor and pulse-chop it finely. The pieces should be no larger than 1/4-inch (0.635 cm). Transfer the kale to a large salad bowl and repeat with the process with the remaining kale.
  2. Cut the carrot into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces, put the pieces in the food processor, and pulse-chop until finely diced. Transfer the carrots to the salad bowl. Pulse-chop the bell peppers and add them to the salad bowl.
  3. Add the cabbage to the salad bowl and toss well. Line the edges of the bowl with the sliced beets, form a ring of persimmons next to the beets, and heap the avocado in the center. Display the salad at the table before tossing.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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