Kale is good for you. It’s a leafy green. It’s a heart healthy super food and if it is heart healthy it’s brain healthy. One cup of cooked kale boasts only 36 calories and is packed with vitamins K and C and omega-3 fatty acids. A UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science, Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, has spent years studying the effects of food, exercise and sleep on the brain. He says omega-3 fatty acids “support synaptic plasticity and seem to positively affect the expression of several molecules related to learning and memory that are found on synapses.” In other words, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal brain function.
So what is stopping you from eating this brain-boosting food? Is kale too pungent for your taste buds? Does it look weird? Perhaps you’re at a loss as to how to prepare it? No matter, we can make this odd vegetable more palatable with two tasty recipes. Give it a try. What do you have to lose?
- ? 1 tablespoon muscavado or brown sugar
- ? Pinch of cayenne
- ? 2/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- ? 1 small bunch kale, stemmed and shredded
- ? 2 large carrots, grated
- ? 1 cup baby tomatoes, halved or quartered
- ? 2 green onions, sliced thin
- ? 1 small English cucumber, diced (approximately 1 cup)
- ? 1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- ? 1 cup cooked lentils, black or green preferably
- ? 1 large avocado, diced
- ? 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- ? Juice of 2 limes
- ? 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ? 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- ? Sprinkle of salt and pepper
- ? 1/4 cup sour cream or non-dairy sour cream
- ? 4 brown rice or flour tortillas for wrapping
In a small nonstick skillet, warm the muscavado or brown sugar with a pinch of cayenne and salt over medium low heat. Add the pepitas and stir so the sugar sticks to the nuts and they smell toasty – about 5 minutes. Remove to cool on a piece of parchment (or left in the pan is fine).
In a large mixing bowl, combine the kale, carrots, tomatoes, green onions, cucumber, cilantro, lentils, avocado and feta. Add the juice of both limes, olive oil, hot sauce, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and the cooled pepitas. Toss everything together to mix.
Warm the tortillas over the stove. Add a spoonful of sour cream down the center of the tortilla. Next, add a pile of the kale slaw and wrap ‘er up. Wrap everything in parchment to keep it together for portability or to make in advance and keep in the fridge. It’s messy but it’s yummy!
- ? 4 cups very finely chopped silver curly kale or Russian kale (about 6 ounces of the stem or half of a ¾-pound bunch, stemmed and washed in two rinses of water)
- ? 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped toasted almonds
- ? 1 apple, sweet, like Fuji, or a sweet-tart, like a Gala, Braeburn or Pink Lady, cored and cut in ¼-inch dice
- ? 1 ounce sharp Cheddar cheese, cut in ¼-inch dice
- ? 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ? Salt to taste
- ? 1 very small garlic clove, pureed
- ? 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ? 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Combine the kale, almonds, apple and Cheddar in a large bowl. Next, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, garlic and olive oil. Add to the salad, and toss well. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top, and serve. Tip: This salad benefits from tossing with the dressing about 15 minutes before you serve it. The kale will soften in the dressing.
University of California – Los Angeles. (2008, July 11). Scientists Learn How Food Affects The Brain: Omega 3 Especially Important. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 25, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080709161922.htm