All hail kale, the “superfood” all-star of 2013. This trendy vegetable made headlines and it didn’t shine in the spotlight for no reason. Let me tell you why kale really does live up to all the hype.
“Kale is one of the easiest vegetables to grow organically and can be grown year round in most climate zones. A light frost or two even brings out the sweetness in kale – eating seasonally just got so much easier!”
Kale is an excellent source of provitamin-A compounds such as beta-carotene which is important for low light and night vision. Kale is also renowned for its excellent phytonutrient repertoire which range from chlorophyll to quercetin, to lutein and zeaxanthin to sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol.
Kale tops my leafy greens book due to its excellent calcium content. The calcium from kale is more easily absorbed than that from other greens such as spinach due to its low oxalate content (oxalates bind to calcium and inhibits absorption in the gut). The recommendations for calcium range from 1000mg-1300mg per day (see below). New evidence shows that our peak bone mass occurs at around age 30, then starts to decline thereafter. So if your yet to hit dirty thirty, keep building up your calcium levels to ensure adequate bone density – there’s nothing pretty about osteoporosis.
Recommended Intake of Calcium
- 1-3 years: 700mg daily
- 4-8 years: 1,000mg daily
- 9-18 years: 1300mg daily
- 19-50 years: 1000 mg daily
- 51-70 years: 1200 mg daily for women; 1,000mg daily for men
- 71 and older: 1200 mg daily
Calcium Content of Some Common Foods
- Kale 1 cup raw: ~180mg
- Asian or Collard Greens 1/2 cup cooked: ~150mg
- Milk/Milk Alternative 1 cup: ~300mg
- Kefir 175g or 3/4 cup: ~190mg
- Yogurt 175g or 3/4 cup: ~330mg
When adding up your calcium values it is important to remember a few things. Oxalates decrease absorption of calcium, as does iron and phytates (legumes, whole grains). Vitamin D is also extremely important in helping to absorb calcium in our gut. For optimal bone health don’t forget regular weight bearing exercises – yoga anyone? For more information on sourcing building strong bones on a dairy free diet see Maximising Calcium For Bone Health On A Dairy Free Diet
This Recipe Redux challenge was to do a healthy creation of homemade pizza. Pizza making is usually reserved for your most favourite of people, and what better way to show your love than with this super nutritious, winter greens pizza.
Recipe for Kale Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza & Sauteed Kale Onion Pizza
Makes 1 Kale Pesto Pizza and 2 Sautéed Kale and Onion Pizzas
Ingredients for Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
1 tsp fair trade cane sugar
1.5 cups warm water
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1.5 cups organic all-purpose flour
Method for Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
In a large bowl dissolve the sugar in warm water. Add the yeast and let sit for about 10 minutes or until foamy.
Add the salt and the olive oil to the yeast mixture and stir. Add 1 cup of whole wheat flour, stir to combine with a fork. Add the second cut of whole wheat flour and continue stirring. Now add 1 cup of all-purpose flour slowly – you may not need all of it. Once the dough all comes together tip the dough onto a floured work surface.
Only use the last 1/2 cup of flour if needed. The dough should be slightly sticky but at the same time still easily comes away from your hands. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. It should be nice and smooth when you are finished.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Let sit for about an hour with a slightly damp cloth covering the bowl. Try and find a nice cozy place in your house for the dough to grow, somewhere with no draft.
Prepare your toppings (see below). Once an hour has passed, or the dough has doubled in size (whichever is first) remove the dough from the bowl and separate into 3 even balls. Form nice tight balls of dough and let sit for another 45 minutes.
Roll the balls of dough out on a lightly floured surface into 3 12″ circles. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) while you make the toppings.
Ingredients for Winter Kale Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza
1 large bunch of organic kale
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup shredded organic parmesan cheese*
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar**
75g fresh organic mozzarella cheese, slice into 1/4″ slices
*The rennet in parmesan renders it non-vegetarian. Strict vegetarians should find another good quality hard non-rennet cheese or use 1 tbsp. white miso place for a vegan alternative.
**I used apple cider vinegar in place of lemon juice as lemons are not grown in Canada in the winter months. If you are making this dish during lemon season substitute with 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Method for Winter Kale Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza
Wash kale, remove stems and roughly chop. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a pinch of salt and blanch the kale leaves in the water for about 20 seconds. Remove kale from hot water and run under cool water to stop the cooking process*. Pat dry.
Place the kale, walnuts and parmesan cheese in a food processor and roughly chop. Gradually add in the olive oil and apple cider vinegar (or lemon). Process until finely chopped and blended.
Spread pesto onto 1 12″ pizza dough, arrange mozzarella slices on top. Place on parchment paper or a pizza stone. Bake for about 5-7 minutes or until crust is nice and golden.
*Kale is one of those foods (along side tomatoes and carrots) that are actually more nutritious when heated slightly. Heat helps to release the carotenoids (phytonutrients) and allows them to be absorbed more efficiently in the body. A small amount of vitamin C may be lost, but don’t worry – a serving of raw kale contains a whopping 200% of your RDA for vitamin C.
Ingredients for Sautéed Kale and Onion Whole Wheat Pizza
1 large bunch of organic kale
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion
150g fresh organic mozzarella, sliced into 1/4″ slices
Method for Sautéed Kale and Onion Whole Wheat Pizza
Wash kale, remove stems and roughly chop.
Place a frying pan on medium heat. Add olive oil and fry onions for about 7-10 minutes or until nice and tender. Add kale, salt and pepper and fry for about 1-3 minutes or until kale is wilted. Remove from heat.
Spread mixture onto 2 rolled out 12″ pizza dough rounds. Add slices of mozzarella cheese. Place on parchment paper or pizza stone and bake in preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes or until crust is golden.
Nutrition Information for Kale Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza
Calories 350 cal
Vitamin A 406 RAE
Vitamin C 60mg
Folate 130 DFE
Nutrition Information for Sautéed Kale Onion Whole Wheat Pizza
Calories 200 cal
Vitamin A 20 RAE
Vitamin C 30mg
Folate 120 DFE
Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition, and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.