More and more people are discovering the benefits of eating raw foods as part of a healthy diet. Raw foods are full of the nutrients of nature, and eating foods in their natural state means that all the vitamins and minerals of the food is ingested. While raw food purists eat only food that has not been heated to more than 118 degrees, those starting out can begin by eating just one raw meal a day. This is easy to do with natural salads, fresh produce, and leafy green vegetables.
Benefits of Kale
One of the most perfect foods to eat is kale. A dark, leafy green vegetable that grows in the ground and is considered a “green”, kale is packed with nutrients. Kale is loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, and has an abundance of beta-carotene and lutein. Kale is also full of fiber and the antioxidant of vitamin E. Most people want to cook kale for a long time in water flavored with some sort of meat protein, but that cooking method leaves all the important nutrients in the cooking water. A more natural, healthy way of cooking kale is to dehydrate it into kale chips.
People who eat raw foods generally have a food dehydrator. Very simply, food dehydrators remove water from food by heating the food slowly while using air currents to dry out the food. The faster the flow of air, the faster the food is dehydrated. Food is placed on stacked racks so that the warm air can flow through the racks. Dehydrated foods cannot grow bacteria, mold, or enzymes; therefore the food will last longer.
Kale can be dehydrated into kale chips. The process is really very simple.
•Buy a bunch of kale, preferably from a local farmer’s market as that supports local farmers. If not, any grocery store has kale in the greens section. Kale is a leafy green that looks crinkly and curly.
•Remove the thick stems from the kale by pulling the leaves away from the stem or using a knife to cut the stems away from the leaves. You can save those stems and store them to use later in making soup stock.
•Wash the kale really good, rinsing thoroughly several times. Fresh greens can be gritty as they grow in dirt, so wash them well, especially if they come from local farmers markets.
•Boil a pot of water. Blanch kale in the water until it is wilted.
•Drain the kale in a colander.
•In dehydrator trays, spread the kale leaves out in a single layer. Put the trays in the dehydrator.
•Set the dehydrator full of trays of kale at 135 degrees, and dry the kale for approximately four to five hours, until the kale is crispy.
•Store the kale in airtight containers
Kale can be dehydrated without the use of a dehydrating machine. Instead of placing the washed and blanched kale in the dehydrating tray, spread the leaves out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and put in an oven preheated to 105 degrees for about five to six hours, or until the kale is crisp. It will taste just as good.
Experiment with the taste of the kale chips by adding lemon juice before drying, or other complimentary herbs. Or sprinkle with salt before drying to bring out more flavor of the kale. Remember, kale will shrink as it cooks, so even though it may look like there is a lot of kale, by the time it is dried it will probably be less than half as much. So plan ahead and buy several bunches of kale for drying.
Kale chips are good for snacking. They are healthy and tasty. Sprinkle crushed kale chips onto salads or in soups. Put a few in a child’s lunchbox and fool him or her into eating a healthy vegetable.