By Lauren Cox – Closer To Your Food

Kale is so easy to grow and cook. Here are some tips to integrate this superfood in your diet.

When you think of kale, depending on your age group, you think of either floppy salad bar garnishes with those curly green leaves, or hipsters with kale smoothies and kale chips. Either way you look at it, kale is actually a superstar for many reasons. Primarily, kale is really good for you. There’s just no way around those dark leafy greens being total nutrition superheroes. Secondly, kale is super easy to grow, I mean ridiculously easy. For those of you who kill ficus, you can still grow kale. Third, it’s really easy to cook and is surprisingly yummy. Here are some of my favorite varieties and recipes to try with them.

Blue Curled Kale
Curled kale has to be one of the hardiest varieties. It lends itself really well to kale chips.

Red Russian Kale
Red Russian is one of the prettiest varieties. That’s why I really like using it in raw preparations.

Lacinato/Tuscan Kale
Lacinato or Tuscan kale is my favorite for cooking because it is delicious both raw and cooked. It really holds up to slow, low heat cooking like soups and stews, but can be equally delicious in salad if you treat it right.

Early Spring Kale Chips

4 bunches curly kale, washed, dried, de-stemmed and torn into chip-sized pieces
1 small white onion
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 dried chile peppers (I love to use georgia flame from my garden) OR 1 tablespoon dried chile flakes
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a blender, blend together the onion, garlic, chile and lemon until very smooth. You may need to add a little water if the mix is too thick.

In a large bowl, toss the kale with the mix until all of the leaves are evenly coated. Spread the kale evenly onto your dehydrator trays. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on your dehydrator or use an oven at 325 degrees for about 20-30 minutes until the chips are extra crispy.

Kale and Sweet Potato Baby Food Puree

1 head kale, washed and bottom stems cut off
1 cup sweet potato or yam, peeled and diced
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch cinnamon

In a pot on medium-high heat filled with 2 cups of water, bring it to a boil. Add in the potato and kale and cover. Cook about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are past fork tender.

Transfer the mix to a blender or use an immersion blender in the pot to puree until very smooth. Add the salt and cinnamon and blend again. Transfer into ice cube trays and keep frozen until needed. De-thaw preferably at room temp before use.

Tuscan Kale Salad

1 head Tuscan or Lacinato kale, washed with bottom stems removed
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch natural sugar of choice
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Slice your kale very thin (like the fake grass you find in a gift basket) and transfer to a salad bowl.

In a small bowl, add the lemon juice and slowly whisk in the oil to emulsify. Add in the sugar and season and stir again.

Gently toss the kale with the lemon/oil dressing and top with the bread crumbs and parmesan before serving.

Momma’s Morning Smoothie

3-4 leaves fresh kale
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, skin-on
1 teaspoon fresh turmeric, skin-on
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup fresh spinach
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 fresh cucumber
nut milk of choice to taste

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender until evenly combined. Adjust the consistency with nut milk and enjoy!

Closer to Your Food is a wellness blog focused on eating and cooking for health and sustainability with recipes and lifestyle tips formulated around a plant-based diet and home-grown local foods. Chef Lauren Cox holds a B.A. from the le Cordon Bleu in Culinary Management with over 8 years of fine dining experience in private dining, catering and Michelan star restaurants. For more information, please visit and follow Closer to Your Food on Twitter and Facebook @Closer2YourFood. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.