Want an easy (and delicious) way to add more vegetables to your daily routine?
I have the perfect addition to your breakfast, or snacks! Yes, I said breakfast. Get a dose of anti-inflammatory, nutrient packed Kale from my awesome Kale Granola recipe below. It is loaded with fiber, healthy fats, phytonutrients that help reduce inflammation, and nutrients that promote healthy bones and eyes. If that is not enough, it pairs exceptionally well with yogurt, providing you both prebiotics and probiotics. It is sweet, savory, crunchy goodness that you might have to portion out because you may want to eat the whole batch!
Before I share the recipe I must share some information on the nutrients kale provides. Kale is loaded with vitamin K, which is an over looked nutrient when it comes to bone health. Calcium and Vitamin D are well known to be involved in bone metabolism, but vitamin K is involved as well. Vitamin K is a cofactor (helper) in a reaction that builds our bones and it also helps bind Calcium for bone mineralization. The added bonus here is since Vitamin K is helping Calcium bind for bone mineralization, that dietary Calcium is not going to accumulate on the walls of our blood vessels. So indirectly, vitamin K is keeping our blood vessels flexible and healthy. Too much Calcium build up on our blood vessels leads to hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, the primary cause of heart disease.
Vitamin K has also been increasingly studied for the role it plays in brain health. It plays a role in modulating, or controlling the metabolism of brain sphingolipids. Sphingolipids are a class of fat cells that are abundant in the central and peripheral nervous system. They are important for cell structure, and also play a key role in cell-signaling functions. Vitamin K has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. This is especially important for those that have chronic inflammation or a diagnosis like Multiple Sclerosis in which neuro-inflammation can damage nerve fibers and lead to symptoms associated with MS. Anti-inflammatory foods like Kale can help reduce inflammation.
Kale also provides Calcium, which is absorbed very well. Not all sources of Calcium are readily available for our bodies to absorb. Spinach, for example, is a high oxalate vegetable, which also conatins Calcium. The oxalates actually inhibit or prevent our bodies from absorbing all the Calcium in spinach.
Lutein is also found in kale. Lutein promotes eye health by protecting the eyes from damage by light and oxygen. Crunching on kale can decrease your risk of glaucoma!
Kale is not the only ingredient in this delicious granola, but because it is the only vegetable I thought I would focus on the health benefits of adding a veggie to your morning routine. The whole grains, and seeds in this recipe also provide health benefits. The agave used is a low glycemic sweetener, but should still be used in moderation.
*Side note: I highly encourage getting your nutrients from foods, and not supplements. While I highlight individual nutrients found in kale above, I do not recommend going out and buying supplements. There are many other nutrients we get from eating whole foods. In fact, many foods provide multiple nutrients that are best when eaten together, like vitamin K and Calcium in kale. I just wanted to give some great reasons to crunch on kale. If you have a hard time meeting your nutritional needs from food alone, then of course a supplement may be right for you. In general though, I encourage whole foods, they taste great and they are fun to prepare.
Let's get to the fun part!
What you need for your Kale-thy Granola:
· 1 cup rolled oats
· 1/3 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
· 3 tbsp. sesame seeds
· 1 cup unsweetened, whole grain puffed cereal (Puffed rice)
· 1/3 cup reduced sugar Craisins, chopped (Or dried fruit of your choice. Try to use no added sugar, or reduced sugar).
· 1/3 cup unsweetened seed butter
· ¼ cup agave syrup
· ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Crispy Kale: (This step can be done up to 2 days ahead).
(Preheat oven to 340)
· 1 large bunch of Kale washed, dried and torn into pieces. (ribs removed)
· 1 tbsp. avocado or olive oil
· ¼ tsp. salt
Toss kale with ¼ tsp oil and sprinkle sea salt. Arrange kale on lightly oiled baking sheet, in a single layer. Be sure it is not curled over itself, it will not get crispy.
Bake 8-12 minutes.
Kale should be crisp but not browned. A clue that it is almost done is when you can smell it.
Place on racks to cool.
1. Bake kale according to directions above, and allow to cool.
2. Spread oats and seeds on large baking sheet and bake 10 minutes shaking half way through.
3. When finished, place in large bowl and stir in cereal and Craisins.
4. Crumble the cooled kale into the bowl and gently stir.
5. In a small saucepan combine seed butter and syrup, stirring over medium-low heat until mixture is bubbly.
6. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. (Or extract flavor of your choice.
7. Pour butter mixture over oats mixture and stir until evenly coated.
8. This mixture is ready to be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. You can crumble it over your favorite dairy or dairy free yogurt. Alternatively you can spread and flatten the granola firmly to make granola bars. Let it set in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! You can make variations with different dried fruit, different extract flavors, and puffed whole grain cereal. Peanut Butter or any other nut or seed butter can be substituted as well. If you want some inspiration, my next idea is to use coconut extract in place of vanilla, dried pineapple and maybe add unsweetened coconut. Pina-Kalada Granola!
Share your creations, and substitutions and let me know how you enjoy the granola.
Use the hashtag: #nutritionwithnoelle
Maresz, K. (2015). Proper Calcium Use: Vitamin K2 as a Promoter of Bone and Cardiovascular Health. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, 14(1), 34–39.
Ferland, G. (2012). Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions. Advances in Nutrition, 3(2), 204–212. http://doi.org/10.3945/an.111.001784