Members of the botanical genus Brassica are known for their health benefits, but kale is particularly outstanding. The green, leafy, cruciferous vegetable is loaded with nutrients including calcium, vitamin C, folate and dietary fiber. Additionally, the leaves are an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health. With its tough leaves and bitter taste, kale can be difficult to stomach. A quick boil, called blanching, will tenderize the leaves without stripping nutrients. Season the blanched kale with lemon zest for a light, flavorful dish.
Place the leaves on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to remove the tough center stem.
Slice the leaves into smaller pieces and wash them thoroughly under cool, running water. Then sprinkle them with a little baking soda or baking powder to reduce toughness.
Bring a stock pot of water to a boil. While you're waiting on the water, fill a large bowl with ice and water and set it to the side.
Add the kale and a sprinkling of salt to the pot. Boil for four minutes, then immediately scoop the leaves out of the pot with a slotted spoon and into the ice water bath.
Squeeze the water out of the blanched leaves. Eat the kale plain or saute or stir-fry it with other vegetables.
Select bunches of kale with small, dark green leaves. Avoid leaves with brown discoloration or soft spots.
Because of its high vitamin K content, kale may not be safe for individuals on blood thinners or other clotting medications. Additionally, kale may suppress thyroid function, according to Deirdre Orceyre of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the George Washington University Medical Center. Talk to your physician before adding kale to your diet.