When a vegetable makes an appearance in a Beyoncé video, you know it has star quality... From farmer's markets to pop music videos, kale is the vegetable that literally seems to be popping up everywhere. But what is it about this superfood that still makes people grimace? Its excellent nutritional benefits alone put it at the top of my list. This week, we're taking a look at how kale is taking over in the world of leafy vegetables and slowly changing the way we see green.

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Star Ingredient of the Season: Kale

As versatile of a vegetable as kale is in the cooking department (you can eat it raw, steamed, sauteed, roasted or just about any way you like), it is equally versatile in the harvesting department. Kale grows best in the colder months but can be produced in any season and in most climates. In Houston, we have seen a lot of kale dishes on farm-to-table menus the last few months as the vegetable has been at the peak of freshness. Like broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts and other green members of the brassica plant family, kale is rich in calcium and high in beta carotene and Vitamin C. Studies show it can also be beneficial in reducing cholesterol and offering anti-cancer properties.

While many people associate superfoods like kale with a bitter or boring taste, the versatility of the vegetable allows it to be used in a variety of different ways. The subtle flavor and bright green color make it a fantastic fresh addition to many dishes, including salads and juices. I like to fit my healthy foods in any chance I get, so I am a fan of the kale ceasar salad, kale chips and a hefty handful of kale in my daily green juice. Not only does it perk up your meal, but it provides your body with a powerful boost.

Image: Megha Tejpal

In a Starring Role at: True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen
1700 Post Oak Blvd.
281-605-2505
truefoodkitchen.com

As kale's popularity has skyrocketed, I have seen and tried more and more dishes featuring this star ingredient. One of the most popular items to be used featuring kale as the star is green juice. Kale drinks have vaulted out of the local juice bars and made it on menus at cocktail bars and full-service restaurants. There are many who fear the green juice—I used to be one them—but trust me: set your fears aside and take it from a former Pepsi addict who knows.

True Food Kitchen at BLVD Place is a foodie haven for health nuts, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The restaurant features a mouthwatering brunch, lunch and dinner menu and a fresh juice bar. For my part, there's nothing more tried and true on the "Natural Refreshers" drink menu than True Food's kale-aid. This vibrant green drink is made with kale, apple, cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger. The sweet and tangy beverage puts to rest the myth that healthy foods are bitter and boring. At under $8 for a large portion, it will pep you up in a way that no soda or cup of joe can. Combined with some of the fresh options on the dining menu like spaghetti squash casserole or the inside-out quinoa burger, the kale-aid is a popular choice for True Food diners.

So the next time you grimace at the thought of kale or green juice, think about this cruciferous vegetable as the star that it is: a dynamic superfood rich in nutrients that is here to stay. From a self-proclaimed soda fanatic, I encourage you to go green; it is a life-changing experience to begin enjoying vegetables you thought you once hated.

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