kaleEvery food has its season, right? Summer is the perfect time for fresh produce stands filled with peaches, tomatoes and corn straight off the cob. Take a quick stroll through the produce section of your local grocery store (or even down the chips aisle) and you’ll notice kale has found a prominent spot. The thick lush green is showing up on restaurant menus as the new “it” food. So why is kale all of the sudden so popular? Well if everyone (or every food) gets their 15 minutes of fame – this is kale’s time in the spotlight and it’s taking full advantage of a culture always in search of the next hip thing to eat.

Kale is Popular for Good Reason

We all know if you want to improve your diet then you need to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. If you really want to swing for the fences, then picking from the “Superfood” list is the way to go. Kale is certainly no stranger to this list and some even tout it as number one. Here’s why. With only 33 calories per serving, kale provides 206 percent of your daily vitamin A, 134 percent vitamin C and 2 grams of protein. It contains plant compounds, which protect against breast, cervical and colon cancers and has been listed among vegetables with the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC).

Is Kale the New Spinach?

Remember when spinach stole the health headlines? By even having spinach as an ingredient, foods were naturally perceived as being healthy. Spinach and artichoke dip anyone? Just as spinach became mainstream and enjoyed in everything from enchiladas to frittatas, kale slipped in as the new green on the block. Before you knew it, Pinterest was filled with homemade kale chips recipes.

So which one is better for you? It is a question everyone from Cleveland Clinic to Huffington Post is trying to answer. If you Google “spinach versus kale” you will find more than 170,000 results – a debate dietitians surely enjoy with a culture that can more easily debate their favorite pizza spot. In cleverly illustrated infographics, Cleveland Clinic says it is a draw, while Prevention says kale wins by one point if you take into account the price. Huffington Post argues, “spinach is so over.” Everyone would agree, however, if you were debating between the two, you couldn’t go wrong.

More Than Kale Chips

When cooking with kale, the options are pretty limitless. Like spinach, you can incorporate it into a variety of dishes. It will hold up to being steamed, sautéed, baked, braised, dropped into soups or stews and even sliced thin and served raw as a salad. One of the leaders in cuisine, bon appetit magazine, offers 11 ways to cook with kale to start enjoying this superfood on the dinner table tonight. If you would rather wait until breakfast, guess what may have edged kale chips off the top spot on Pinterest? Kale smoothies!

Does kale have lasting power? Your health care provider certainly would hope so, we assume, along with the old standbys like carrots, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.