No. 4 – Kale!

I thought I’d set myself a challenge with this blog post and attempt to convert any non-believers to join me in worshipping the humble member of the cabbage family that is kale! There’s not much that hasn’t been written to expound the numerous health benefits of this green, crinkly leafed veg. It’s always in the news being hailed as the ultimate super food and promoted by various celebrity fans (alongside their new cookbook/exercise video etc), so sorry to jump on such a worn out bandwagon, but kale really is obscenely healthy.

It is packed with antioxidants and other nutrients, including vitamins A, B6 and C, calcium and fibre. One serving provides more than 100% of the recommended daily amounts of vitamins A and K, so it is great for eye health and promoting healing in the body. There’s not many ingredients which can beat all that.

But it has a bit of an image problem, let’s be honest. It’s not massively inspiring to cook with and doesn’t grab you in the supermarket begging to be turned into a delicious family friendly dinner. Kids in particular are often turned off because it’s just so green and leafy. They’ve already decided they don’t want to eat it before its served – it’s like a bigger, badder version of brocolli [insert your child’s least favourite vegetable here] for lots of them!

So yes, I know I may be fighting a losing battle here, but I’ve got a trio of recipes which I’m hoping will change a few minds, big and small alike. To kick things off, one of my favourite salads which is put together in a few minutes and uses kale as the leaf. Beware, it is addictively good.

Kale, avocado, quinoa and chickpea salad with lemony dressing, serves 2

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 handfuls of kale
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 150g cooked quinoa
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Lightly blanch the kale in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes then drain and leave to cool
  2. Peel, stone and chop the avocados and put into a mixing bowl with the drained chickpeas and quinoa
  3. Grate the garlic into a separate bowl and add the lemon juice, oil and seasonings to make the dressing
  4. Once the kale is cool, add to the mixing bowl, pour over the dressing, and mix everything together, ensuring the dressing is distributed evenly
  5. Devour it!

So, so good, tastes light and summery, even on a dank autumnal day, and super easy to put together. It keeps well too, so I make double and have a ready stash in the fridge. It’s my most recent food addiction! I eat it as a main meal on its own, but it works equally as well as a side to a garlicky chicken breast or a peppery steak. I’ve converted my eldest boy to this salad over the past few weeks (he likes it served with fish fingers – hey, you can’t win them all) but my middle one refuses to eat the kale, although he’ll happily scoff the avocado, chickpeas and quinoa in their lemony dressing. He however, absolutely loves my second recipe, kale chips…

Sea salt and garlic kale chips, serves a couple of pre dinner hungry tums

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 17 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°c
  2. Assuming the kale is ready washed, it just needs a good dry. If not, wash and then thoroughly dry the leaves
  3. Put the leaves into a baking dish and drizzle with the oil
  4. Massage the oil into the leaves, making sure they are all coated (the kids love helping with this bit!)
  5. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder and chilli flakes if using. *If the kids have been particularly hard work, the reaction to an extra sprinkle of chilli can be rather satisfying when they tuck in!
  6. Into the oven for 10 mins, then turn the leaves over and back in for another 7 mins ish
  7. Keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn
  8. Leave to cool for a few minutes once cooked, as they get extra crispy if you can manage to wait that long
  9. Tuck in!

If I know dinner will be an hour and the boys are hungry, a plate of these will satisfy them just enough to prevent a meltdown, but won’t ruin their appetite for dinner. Plus I’ve squeezed an extra portion of super nutritious veg into them without them even noticing – winner! The chips melt in your mouth but have a satisfying crunch and are extremely moreish. I like them with a sprinkle of chilli flakes and a glass of cold white wine!

Won you over yet? If not, my final recipe may just do it! Now, on the whole, I’m not a fan of disguising vegetables in food to try and get kids to eat them, but I’d seen a few recipes for desserts including kale and chocolate of various kinds so thought I’d give it a try. Here’s my version of the kale and chocolate marriage, in luscious, unctuous brownie form. These brownies are not pretending to be healthy, and of course if you put enough sugar, butter and chocolate into a recipe (and there’s a LOT in these; my teeth were crying as I measured out the sugar), you can hide the taste of just about anything, but these brownies have a richness and gooey-ness that I can only attribute to the addition of the kale. Well that’s my story anyway, and I’m sticking to it! If you are going to have a sweet treat, may as well stick a superfood vegetable in there, no? And they go really, really well with a cup of Yorkshire Tea.

Kale and chocolate brownies, makes 36 decadently rich brownie bites

Prep time: 10 mins or so measuring everything out

Cooking time: about 45 mins. *Warning – I was literally drooling at the oven door by the end of the baking time

Ingredients

  • 175g kale
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 100g plain choc chips
  • 85g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 350g granulated sugar
  • 115g dark brown soft sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°c and grease your brownie tray. I used an 8″ square one which gave nice chunky brownies with plenty of gooey bits in the middle!
  2. Prepare the kale by removing any stalks, then blanch in boiling water for 5 minutes before blitzing in the food processor. Leave to cool
  3. Mix the flour and cocoa in a small mixing bowl and set aside
  4. Melt the choc chips, chocolate and butter gently in a pan, stirring to mix well, then set aside to cool
  5. Once everything is cool, add the sugar, beaten eggs and vanilla to the chocolate mixture and mix well
  6. Next add in the kale, then the dry ingredients, mixing well each time
  7. Pour into the greased tray and into the oven for about 45 mins until the centre is just set
  8. Turn out of the pan, and leave to cool slightly before cutting into brownie bites. Enjoy!

As I have zero self control around such delicious baked treats, I sent the brownies into my sons school to test out on his classmates. There’s no way I could have them in the house with me as I would have scoffed the lot. In like 5 minutes flat. And then probably been quite sick!

I told my sons teacher that there was a secret vegetable ingredient hidden in the brownies and asked the kids to guess what it was. The responses ranged from carrot to sprouts. Brilliant, maybe I need to develop a recipe for sprout brownies?!
The feedback from the kids was overwhelmingly positive. Personal favourite ‘unusually delicious’!

If you are on Instagram, give @kaleandchocolate a follow. I’m obsessed with their Instagram feed and blog! Chock full of delicious looking food and recipes, often incorporating kale and chocolate. Seriously tempting but super healthy and nutritious at the same time!

 
Still not convinced by my kale delights? Here’s a few other recipes to try:

http://cookieandkate.com/2014/spicy-kale-and-coconut-stir-fry/ – I’m trying this when I’m next in the mood for a takeaway, looks amazing!

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/kale-goats-cheese-frittata – perfect for a summer picnic!

http://pinchofyum.com/5-minute-vegan-kale-pesto – this might just get me to ditch my usual avocado based ‘pesto’. I only said might, mind you!
Follow me:

dippyeggplease on Instagram

@dippyeggplease on Twitter and Facebook

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