Nutritious & Delicious // Ten Ways to Cook Kale

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Photography by Bev Weidner // Layout by Sara Haile
Happy Monday Morning, Muffins!  I'm finishing up a long-weekend vacation with my family down in Florida today, but am happy to be sharing a fun new feature with you here this morning...
I get asked quite often about my recommendations for how to keep nutrition as a priority, without sacrificing the chance to have happy taste buds at every meal, and I can honestly say that healthy cooking and eating are some of my favorite things in life!
Every so often, I'll be highlighting a specific seasonal ingredient, sharing why it's good for your health, and featuring a round-up of different ways you can prepare it at home for yourself.  Thankfully, I've got a few friends helpful me out along the way, and together, we'll be sharing the WHYs and HOWs behind a nutritionally-focused diet.  Ready?
By now you've probably  noticed that we're focusing on Kale for this first feature.  We're calling her the dark, leafy Queen of Greens, and you can make her your best friend by checking out all of the handy healthy goodness below!
WHY...
Hi, I'm Brooke, and I'm working on my Nutrition Dietetics degree at Arizona State University.  I specialize in Healthy Lifestyle Coaching with a minor in Sustainable Foods.  My passions include kale (yes, really!), exercising, gluten and dairy free cooking, and statement necklaces.  [Editor's note: A girl after my own heart.]

Naturally, this inaugural post highlights my absolute favorite vegetable: the super-food known as kale.  Full of Vitamins and Minerals, she packs a protective punch that can boost your immune system, give you great skin, and is a fantastic aid for digestion.

One cup of raw kale has 36 calories, 5 grams of Fiber, 7 times more beta carotene than broccoli, and zero grams of saturated fat.  Beta-carotene promotes lutein for eye protection, and the high amounts of fiber bind to your bile acids which is great for lowering cholesterol, helping digestion and assisting with weight management.
Tips:  Buy bunches with smaller leaves, as they are more tender and usually have a sweeter taste.  When preparing raw kale, massage leaves to break apart the fibrous bonds to help your body absorb the nutrients more easily.  Adding lemon juice or apple cider vinegar can take out a bitter ‘bite’ taste.
HOW...
You didn't think we'd tell you all of those nutritious tidbits without providing some cooking inspiration, did you?  I can't claim credit for the following recipes, but Mr. Pepper and I have made a variation of each of them at least once, and can personally attest to their tastiness. :)  The ten dishes below are from one of my all-time favorite food blogs, Bev Cooks, and if you're not following her "creative cooking with a foodie flare" yet, then get ready to be HOOKED!

One // Portobello Mushroom with Kale Pesto GuacamoleTwo // Quick Curried Chickpeas with Tofu & KaleThree // Trapanese Pesto Pizza with Shrimp & KaleFour // Red Quinoa with Mushrooms & KaleFive // Kale and Sage Pestro Crostini with Roasted VegetablesSix // Dinosaur Kale, Tomato & White Bean SoupSeven // Seared Shrimp Vindaloo with VegetablesEight // Linguine with Kale & TomatoesNine // Indian Lentil Saute with Kale & AsparagusTen // Raw Kale Salad with Garden Veggies & Wild RiceWell, what are you waiting for?  Get yourself to the market for a bright green bunch, pick your favorite recipe above, and I can't wait to hear what you think of this new feature!

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