11 Wholesome Facts About Kale

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Kale is so hip, the food world has begun predicting new trends in terms of their kale-iness. Is celery the new kale? Is cauliflower the new kale? Pshaw. As if those plebeian plants could unseat the king of fashionable leafy greens. Here are 11 oh-so-healthy things you should know about every foodie’s favorite cruciferous vegetable.

1. IT USED TO BE CALLED PEASANT'S CABBAGE.

Now, peasant’s cabbage is more like wealthy Hollywood superstar’s cabbage. The modern word “kale” came from a Scottish name for the plant, kail. The Scots started using the word “kailyard” to describe a small garden in the 14th century, and the term later came to be associated with a specific style of fiction about rural domestic life.

2. GREEKS USED SOMETHING LIKE IT TO SOBER UP.

Ancient Greeks boiled leafy greens to eat as a cure for drunkenness. It’s not certain which leaves they used, but there are early Roman documents that describe brassica, the genus that includes kale and related plants.

3. IT COMES FROM THE SAME PLANT AS BROCCOLI, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, AND CABBAGE.

All these dietary delights are versions of a species of mustard plant called Brassica oleracea. Over time, farmers used selective breeding to create the vastly different-looking vegetables we know today, called cole crops. That’s why the large leaves of cabbage look different from the bountiful flowers of broccoli or the multiple heads of brussels sprouts.

4. IT REALLY IS GOOD FOR YOU …

Gwyneth Paltrow was not lying to you. Besides being a good source of fiber (which Americans are bad at eating enough of), kale has more vitamin C than an orange. Studies have found that diets that incorporate a lot of cruciferous vegetables—a group that includes kale—are associated with lower risks of some cancers. The same substances that give kale its bitter taste, glucosinolates, break down during digestion to help inhibit the development of cancer, at least in studies of rodents.

5. … BUT YOU CAN OVERDO IT.

A diet that’s very high in cruciferous vegetables like kale can cause hypothyroidism in iodine-deficient people. Though scientists aren’t quite sure how the compounds interfere with thyroid glands, it has something to do with the same glucosinolates that make kale a cancer-fighter. So, maybe don’t eat it for every meal.

6. KALE IS DEFINITELY HAVING A MOMENT.

Between 2007 and 2012, farmers started producing 60 percent more kale a year. In 2014, a major kale seed supplier in the Netherlands ran out of its stock of kale seeds of every variety, prompting fears of a shortage.

7. NEW YORKERS EAT IT EVEN IN THE WORST OF TIMES.

A blizzard warning in New York City in January 2015 caused a run on kale in some parts of the city. Several grocery stores ran out of the veggie prior to the storm, showing that not everyone has the same views on what constitutes a necessary food staple.

8. THERE'S A REASON IT USUALLY COMES COOKED.

Raw kale is harder on the digestive system than the cooked variety, and can cause abdominal issues and bloating. Steamed kale is also better for lowering cholesterol, though raw kale may be more effective at lowering cancer rates. You can also opt to skip the heat and massage it to break down the plant’s cellulose structure and save your body some of the work.

9. NOT EVERYONE THINKS YOU SHOULD EAT MORE KALE.

Chik-fil-A sent the creator of a popular “Eat More Kale” shirt, Bo Muller-Moore, a cease-and-desist letter in 2011, saying that “Eat More Kale” was too much like the fast food company’s own slogan, “Eat More Chikin.” The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office allowed Muller-Moore to trademark his kale boosterism in 2014.

10. IT'S A FAST FOOD NOW.

In March, McDonald’s announced that it would start selling breakfast bowls featuring kale and spinach. Can you super-size that McKale, please?

11. THERE ARE PROVERBS ABOUT IT.

A proverb in the Shetland dialect (from far-northern Scotland) advises: "Dry sunny weather was best for 'maetin' (ripening) the corn and drying the peats; wet, misty or rainy weather grew best kale."

How to Make Queen Elizabeth’s Beloved Chocolate Biscuit Cake at Home

Queen Elizabeth II at an afternoon tea event in 1999.
Queen Elizabeth II at an afternoon tea event in 1999.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Between living in regal palaces and owning all the dolphins in the UK, Queen Elizabeth II is not like the rest of us in most ways. But there is one thing that many of us do have in common with her: a weakness for chocolate cake. Back in 2017, former royal chef Darren McGrady shared that the queen is especially partial to a certain chocolate biscuit cake that he served each day for afternoon tea.

"The chocolate biscuit cake is the only cake that goes back again and again and again, every day until it's all gone," McGrady told RecipesPlus. "She'll take a small slice every day until eventually there is only one tiny piece, but you have to send that up; she wants to finish the whole of that cake."

If the queen relocated from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle before she made it to the last slice, McGrady brought the leftover cake with him by train. Wishing you could sample the royal dessert yourself? If you’re willing to spend a little time in the kitchen, you can: The full recipe is available on McGrady’s website.

For novice bakers picturing something decadent and complicated, don’t worry—the recipe is refreshingly simple, calling only for sugar, butter, dark chocolate, one egg, and rich tea biscuits or other sweet, hard cookies. Essentially, all you have to do is crumble the biscuits into small chunks, melt the dark chocolate, combine all the ingredients in a certain order, and let the cake chill in a pan in the refrigerator for a few hours. Then, you use additional melted dark chocolate as frosting.

Step-by-step instructions and ingredient amounts can be found here. And if you’re a little wary about using a raw egg in a no-bake cake, here’s a similar recipe that calls for whipping cream instead.

[h/t The Royal Chef]

To Avoid Grocery Shopping, Quarantined Americans Are Reviving Wartime-Era Victory Gardens

Zbynek Pospisil/iStock via Getty Images
Zbynek Pospisil/iStock via Getty Images

For many people practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the supermarket is the one place where it's practically impossible to avoid crowds. When they do brave the stores, shoppers may struggle to find what they're looking for, with panic buyers clearing shelves of everything from pasta to produce. Though the circumstances are different, citizens across the country are responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak by reviving a trend from the First and Second World Wars. As The New York Times reports, victory gardens are making a comeback.

Victory gardens started in 1917 as a way to supplement the commercial farming disrupted by World War I. As farmers became soldiers and farms became battlefields in Europe, the U.S. agricultural industry suddenly found itself responsible for feeding its own citizens as well as its allies abroad. Encouraging people to plant crops in any available space they could find—including rooftops, parks, backyards, empty lots, and fire escapes—was a way to lighten the burden.

The U.S. government formed the National War Garden Commission weeks before joining the war. Over the next couple of years, pamphlets were distributed to citizens showing them which seeds to plant and how to protect them from pests and diseases. One booklet read “The War Garden of 1918 must become the Victory Garden of 1919.”

Thanks to the effort, 3 million new gardens were cultivated in America in 1917 and 5.2 million appeared in 1918. The initiative resurfaced during World War II, and again, it was a huge success. At its peak, home and community gardens were producing nearly 40 percent of all fresh vegetables in the country.

For more than 70 years, victory gardens only existed as a footnote in history books, but now, they're seeing a resurgence. The U.S. isn't at war, and as of now there's no risk of the country running out of food, but the chaos and fear surrounding trips to the grocery stores are inspiring many people to turn to their own backyards. As many industries are struggling, seed companies are seeing a spike in business. Organizations dedicated to gardening are also seeing the trends. Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York normally builds about 10 community gardens outside homes, schools, and churches a year. But since the start of the novel coronavirus crisis, they've received 50 requests for community gardens.

A home garden is only useful in times of national hardship if it actually produces something. If you're interested in building a sustainable home garden and limiting your trips to the supermarket, here are some easy plants to start with and gardening mistakes to avoid.

[h/t The New York Times]

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