On Vancouver Island we have mild winters (usually) which makes it is possible to have a garden and enjoy certain vegetables like kale year round. My husband is the gardener in the family so it’s thanks to him that our family enjoys organic vegetables like kale, beets, Swiss chard and even lettuce during the colder months. He is now in the process of making a greenhouse, so who knows what other tasty vegetables will be on our table next winter. “Real” food is amazing!
I am thrilled to have kale in our garden and the type we grow is called Lacinato or Black Tuscan. It has long dark green leaves that look like ostrich plumes.
Kale is a super food and eating it regularly has unsurpassed health benefits. What are some of those benefits? Well, it has the highest levels of beta-carotene of any green vegetable, plus it is very high in vitamin C, and calcium. Kale is also very easy to grow and is so cold hardy that even if there is frost, don’t panic, it just makes the kale sweeter! The leaves are fresh, crisp, and brimming with nutrients. Maybe kale should be included in a few more gardens or even in pots on our decks. I am pretty sure Popeye would have switched from spinach to kale if he had known about it (not that there is anything wrong with spinach!)
We enjoy eating kale raw two or three times a week in a smoothie with blackberries that I pick from our yard in August and freeze.
Blackberries grow in abundance on Vancouver Island!
Blackberries contain one of the highest levels of antioxidants (prevents or delays some types of cell damage in our bodies) in fruit. Rich in vitamin C and fiber, blackberries can lower the risk of certain cancers. Even our dog, Otto, enjoys eating fresh blackberries. Smart dog!
Blackberries are very easy to freeze, just rinse them off, spread them out in a single layer on a tray and freeze. When you use frozen blackberries in a smoothie you do not need to add ice.
I actually started making smoothies years ago when my boys were little. No doubt, if you asked them now to describe my smoothies the words wouldn’t be too flattering! I will admit they weren’t too thrilled at having them. I think it may have been a texture thing, although the boy’s say that isn’t the case, they just tasted awful! Over the years, I have learned a thing or two about making drinkable smoothies. In fact, I think my kale and blackberry smoothie is pretty tasty, even though one of my sons who shall remain nameless (but still lives at home) still does not trust his dear mom. Guess that’s why I developed my Granola recipe!
A smoothie can be made in 5 minutes and is a fantastic way to have a quick healthy breakfast. A great jump-start to the day!
When I use fresh kale I need to remove the thick stem because I nearly wrecked my blender. However, if you have a high-powered blender you will be able to throw the whole leaf in.
- 1 bunch of fresh or frozen kale (about 2 cups)
- 1½ cups of frozen blackberries (with frozen blackberries you can skip the ice)
- 1 small piece of ginger peeled
- 1or 2 bananas, fresh or frozen
- 1½ cups of water ( coconut or almond milk may be substituted)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
- 1 or 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fiber powder (optional)
- Using a sharp knife, remove the thick stem from the kale, then chop into smaller pieces. If you have a powerful blender you can add the whole leaf.
- Combine kale, blackberries, ginger, banana, water, chia seeds, flax seeds, maple syrup and fiber powder if using, in a blender. Process using the low speed to start, then increase speed until mixture is completely smooth.
- If your blender isn't that powerful, you can blend in two batches, starting with the kale, blackberries and the water, then adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Pour into two glasses and serve.