Overcoming Kalephobia

Written by Betsy Keller, MS, RD

I have kalephobia. I should not admit this as I am a Registered Dietitian and have openly and hypocritically blessed Kale’s virtues over the years.  The phobia might have developed due to overactive bitter taste buds (new research has confirmed this) or it might be my lack of patience to scrub hidden dirt from thick and curly leaves. I recently discussed my phobia at a dinner party and was surprised to learn three other guests also shared my disdain for this healthy and supposedly delicious leafy green.

Veggie Therapy

Organic, backyard-grown Lacinato Kale is perfect for making kale chips. When buying at retail, look for unwilted and unblemished leaves. A few pinholes caused by bugs on organic varieties can just be ignored.

In order to overcome a phobia, experts suggest desensitizing yourself to the reviled object/experience over time.  I am an all or nothing personality, so today is National Kale Day at my house (so many declared holidays I think the kids might go for this).  I have prepared a short speech about how kale was loved by the Romans, European peasants and early English settlers. For breakfast I prepared a kale frittata, lunch will include Kale in my soup and unbeknownst to my children, kale will be served roasted and crunchy and sprinkled in mashed potatoes with dinner.

The frittata was delicious (thank you Whole Foods for the wonderful recipes).  Torn into small chewable, digestible pieces, I may be convinced that Kale can be added (hidden) in many of my staple recipes. I am only halfway through day one so my enthusiasm may be tempered by the end of the week. I remain hopeful that my family will enjoy the new recipes and unconditionally accept kale into their life.

Kale Facts

Kale is a member of the cabbage family – cousin of broccoli, cauliflower and collard greens – but its leaves do not form a head.   There are several varieties of kale – curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (or Lacinato or Tuscan).

One cup of kale (36 calories) is chock full of beneficial nutrients such as:

Fiber – 5grams fiber; raw fiver binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels

Antioxidants (carotenoids and 45 flavinoids),

Vitamins (1000% Daily Value vitamin K and 200% DV C) and Minerals (15% DV calcium, 40% DV magnesium, iron, magnesium)…

Sulforaphane a sulfur substance that may protect against certain cancers.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids – It only takes 100 calories of kale to provide us with 25-35% of the recommendation for the basic omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA).

Indole-3-carbinol– may play a role in repairing cell DNA.

Glucosinolates – compounds which provide cancer-preventive benefits.

Cooking Kale

Select firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Smaller sized leaves will be tenderer and have a milder flavor. To store, place kale in a plastic storage bag removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days as it gets bitter (or more bitter in my case) after this.  Do not wash kale before storing because excess water will lead to spoilage.

To ensure quick and even cooking cut the leaves into ½” slices and the stems into 1/4″ lengths. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking to enhance the health benefits.

Kale chips are a salty and satisfying snack that make a great substitute for potato or corn chips. Even kids love them.

For kale recipes, visit the ever-popular Tuscan Kale Chips post on this site and try:

Whole Foods website: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=40

Trying this one tonight! http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001566.html

What are your favorite ways to cook kale?

Betsy Keller, MS, RD is a nutrition marketing and communications consultant specializing in sustainable food, nutrition and health-related issues. She is a freelance writer and also lectures in Fairfield County, CT.

10 thoughts on “Overcoming Kalephobia”

  1. Kale is a major winter staple in The Netherlands. We call it Boerenkool Stamppot, and it is basically mashed potatoes, kale, and sausage of any sort. Very tasty. I found several recipes in english on food.com. Try it!

  2. Loved this post! Kale is staple in my house and a feature veggie in my nutrition education program “Veggiecation”. We have a killer recipe for Sweet Cinnamon Kale Chips that kids just gobble up!

    Welcome to the world of Kale!

  3. Well, I certainly will try serving kale to my kids. Thanks for the info. My children LOVE broccoli and cauliflower so introducing kale should not be a hard sell. I am always looking for new vegetable suggestions. Also, never considered Whole Foods as a recipe source…good to know.

  4. I absolutely love Kale. I grew up with collard greens and swiss chard, spinach and all the other dark leafy greens. Thanks for the recipe tips and links.

  5. I am very fortunate that my children love most of the veggies I put on their plate but I have to admit i have never tried kale. Thank you for the great cooking tips..I will give it a try!

  6. Thanks for the great recipe ideas! Can’t wait to try them. It is also good just steamed with olive oil, just don’t overcook.

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