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If you want to include more vegetables in your diet, you've probably considered trying kale, a leafy green popular with both nutritionists and chefs. Kale is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Plus, Kale is easy to grow and usually inexpensive, making it an excellent choice for health-conscious gardeners or shoppers.

However, until a few years ago, kale had fallen out of popularity, and many people don't know good ways to prepare it. Many people may even be intimidated by its bittersweet flavor and tough texture. Luckily, there are lots of great recipes that bring out the best in kale.

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Kale can be baked into chips

If you crave crunchy snacks but want to make a healthier choice, consider making kale chips. Kale chips have a hearty, slightly bitter flavor that many people find is addictive. They're often baked in olive oil, another healthy choice, and you can add any seasoning you like such as kosher salt, garlic powder, paprika, or even a little turmeric.

Kale chips are a crunchy treat bhofack2 / Getty Images
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Making kale chips is fun and easy

Kale chips are simple for even an inexperienced cook to make. You'll only need a few ingredients and an oven. Start with bagged kale or fresh leaves. Tear it into bite-sized pieces. You might want to remove the ribs, the fibrous centers of each leaf if you're trying to achieve maximum crunch. Spread the kale leaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then pour on a teaspoon or two of olive oil and toss with your hands to get it good and coated. Add your seasoning, then bake at 325 degrees for around 15 minutes for crisp results.

Use a sheet pan to make kale chips Jaynerr / Getty Images
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Kale is a great salad base

Sturdy, crunchy, and full of flavor, kale makes an ideal base for hearty salads. Thanks to its robust taste, kale can be combined with other pungent ingredients like strong cheeses, meats, or fruits without getting lost in the mix. Due to its texture, kale performs best as a salad base when the dressing is massaged into the leaves instead of just drizzled on. Kale pairs perfectly with autumn flavors and does well with cold or warm dressings without wilting.

Kale is a great base for salad toppings dlerick / Getty Images
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Balance kale's bitterness with sweet salad additions

In order to achieve the best salad, balance is key. Since kale has a slightly bitter flavor, this salad adds sweet elements like dried cherries and a dressing made with maple syrup for balance. Ingredients: 2 cups curly kale leaves

1/4 cup walnuts

One-quarter cup dried cherries

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheeseDressing: 1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

One teaspoon Dijon mustard

Simply combine the salad ingredients and toss until well distributed. Prepare the dressing by shaking in a mason jar.

Curly kale is great combined with sweet ingredients alice dias didszoleit / Getty Images
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Try a warm salad dressing for your kale salad

Thanks to its texture, kale can withstand a warm dressing without getting soggy. Try this tantalizing salad with crispy bacon and a warm vinaigrette. Ingredients:4 cups curly or lacinato kale

1/3 cup toasted walnuts or almonds

Six slices of bacon (reserve drippings for dressing)Dressing: Three tablespoons of reserved bacon drippings (use olive oil if you didn't have enough drippings)

Two tablespoons of minced onion or shallot

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Two teaspoons brown sugar

One teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kale is sturdy enough for warm dressings segray / Getty Images
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Prepare the salad and warm dressing

To prepare the salad, strip the kale leaves from the stems and cut into thin strips. Top with the toasted nuts and set aside.

Cook the bacon in a frying pan over medium heat. Remove the strips when done and set aside. Make sure there are around three tablespoons of drippings left in the pan and saute the shallots or onion in the drippings. Whisk in the other ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Massage the warm dressing into the leaves. Chop the bacon strips up and add on top.

Kale is a healthy salad green Lena_Zajchikova / Getty Images
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Add kale to your smoothie

If all else fails, but you still want to include kale in your diet, try adding it to a smoothie. This recipe includes lots of fruit flavors to balance the kale's bitterness.

Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup of orange juice

1/2 banana

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

2 cups kale

Trim the kale leaves from the ribs. Blend all ingredients until smooth. For the freshest taste and appearance, enjoy immediately.

Sneak kale into a smoothie Amguy / Getty Images
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Kale is related to broccoli

If you're new to kale and wondering where it fits in the vegetable family, you might be more familiar with a few of its cousins. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens. Rich in folate, which is especially important for women of childbearing age, and vitamin K, which is essential for blood clot formation, cruciferous vegetables are a wonderful addition to your diet. Kale, a dark leafy green, is also a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as phytonutrients and other antioxidants.

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable DNY59 / Getty Images
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Kale is a healthy choice for those watching their weight

Looking for a way to watch your weight without feeling hungry? Adding kale can help. Though it only has 33 calories in each cup, it's packed with fiber, which helps you feel full longer. High fiber also helps manage blood glucose levels, which is helpful for those who are dealing with diabetes or pre-diabetes. It's also high in magnesium, a mineral that many people don't get enough of, that can aid in digestion.

Kale can help with weight management sorendls / Getty Images
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There are four main types of edible kale

Kale can be leafy or curly, green, red, or even purple. While exploring your kale options, you're likely to encounter four main edible types:

  1. Curly kale: The most common type of kale to see in stores, it has a pleasant bittersweet flavor with a strong aroma and ruffled green leaves.
  2. Lacinato kale: Also called Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale, this vegetable has long, narrow dark green leaves and a stronger flavor than curly kale. The stem is usually removed before eating.
  3. Redbor kale: Sometimes used as an ornamental variety, this type of kale has ruffled red and purple leaves with a little green mixed in and a milder flavor.
  4. Russian kale: Less common than other types, this kale is shaped more like arugula and has a peppery, mild flavor.
There are many types of kale YinYang / Getty Images

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