Raw kale is commonly used in salads, raw vegetable smoothies, and roll-up or wrap sandwiches. It is also possible to make raw kale chips by dehydrating the leaves in a dehydrator. This vegetable is highly nutritious and rich in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Kale is a type of cabbage related to collard greens, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. It is widely available year round, but is in season during the colder months.
One of the most popular uses of raw kale is in salads or mixed with other greens. The possible combinations of ingredients and dressings are virtually endless and can be tailored to taste and personal preference. The key to most such salads is to chop the kale leaves finely after washing and removing the ribs.
Plain raw kale salads involve preparing the leaves and tossing them with a favorite dressing. Olive oil, lemon juice, and salt make a basic dressing that can be altered by adding spices like chili powder. Typical toppings include dried cranberries or small nuts. More complex salads incorporate ingredients like mangoes, avocados, and other greens.
Dehydrating raw kale leaves in a dehydrator yields a healthier alternative to fried or baked potato chips. Prior to dehydrating, the leaves can be tossed in olive oil and spices for flavor. Unlike a conventional oven, a dehydrator dries food at low temperatures and keeps the enzymes of the raw food intact. A dehydrator will take approximately four to six hours to make kale chips.
Adding a kale leaf or two to a raw berry or vegetable smoothie adds nutrients. Smoothies can be an option for people who do not otherwise enjoy the taste of this plant because the other ingredients will mask it. Large kale leaves may also be used instead of bread, tortillas, and pitas when making roll-up and wrap sandwiches.
One cup of chopped raw kale contains approximately 33 calories total with four calories from fat. Raw kale is strongly anti-inflammatory and has a very low glycemic load. A one cup serving provides double the daily recommended intake of vitamin A and is an excellent source of vitamins C, B6, and K. This food is very low in cholesterol and saturated fat and is a high-quality protein source.
Many raw kale recipes are available in raw food cookbooks. Due to its high nutritional value, kale is a staple ingredient in raw food cooking. Vegetarians and vegans are also encouraged to consume the vegetable raw because the plant is a quality source of protein and many vitamins.
Although raw kale is available all year long in most produce sections, it is in season in fall, winter, and early spring when the weather is colder. Frost exposure can even help sweeten some varieties of the plant like red Russian. Avoid purchasing kale that is yellowing or with wilting leaves.