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Learning to Grow: Kale, a fall favorite

Published: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 3:53 p.m. CDT
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(Provided photo)
Kale is high in Vitamin K, A and C.

While fall is truly my favorite season, it is always sad to see summer come to an end. 

The beginning of fall means enjoying the last tomatoes from the vine and relishing the harvest of fall veggies like Swiss chard, beets, squash and kale. It is the time we all begin “nesting” for the winter and looking for our favorite comfort food recipes, like soup.

Last weekend, I harvested a bunch of veggies from the garden and made a delicious soup.  I started off by sautéing onions and garlic; then added a couple of spicy Italian sausages with the casings removed. When the sausage was cooked, I added a quart of chicken broth, 4 tomatoes diced, 1/2 of a red pepper, and 3 potatoes. When the potatoes were nearly cooked, I sliced a golden zucchini that had gotten a bit oversized – just a bit, not huge.  I just removed the seeds from the center and diced the rest – the yellow skin added more color to my colorful soup. The final ingredient was thinly sliced fresh kale from the garden. 

Kale is a super food. It is very high in Vitamin K, A, and C.  Like most of its fellow cruciferous vegetables, kale has been studied more extensively in relationship to cancer than any other health condition. This research focus makes perfect sense. Kale’s nutrient richness stands out in three particular areas: antioxidant nutrients, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients. Some people find kale to taste a bit bitter. 

In that case, soup or in smoothies is a great place to disguise kale but still receive all of the nutritional benefits. Another way to enjoy kale is in a popular summer sandwich – instead of a BLT – how about a BKT?

Late this fall, my plan is to harvest all of my kale and freeze it in ice cube trays.   I’ve been coveting a smoothie maker and this is one of the ways that to justify the expense – by taking some of my favorite veggies and fruits that are in my freezer and whipping them up into a delicious drink over the winter. 

A final thought, if your garden is producing more than you can use, be sure and think of your local food pantries.  Most are willing to accept fresh veggies and the patrons are appreciative.

• Vicki Hagstotz is a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener for Kane County. Call the extension office at 630-584-6166 for more information.

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