Kale is a well-known superfood that is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, kale smoothies, as healthy as they are, may sometimes have an off-putting bitterness.
What is the best kale to use in smoothies? Red kale, also known as Russian kale, is the best variety to use in smoothies. It is just as healthy as curly green kale but has a sweeter taste and a more delicate texture.
There’s a way of making kale smoothies taste delicious. Continue reading to learn more about this extremely healthy green and why you shouldn’t miss out on red kale smoothies.
Benefits of Using Kale
When it comes to the benefits of incorporating kale in your daily diet, there are not many foods that beat it.
Kale is known as a superfood that has an incredibly high nutritional value and a lot of health benefits.
Here are a few of the ways kale contributes to the overall health of the body:
- Decreased risk of heart diseases and strokes
- Lowered risk of cancer
- Good and protected eyesight
- Healthy skin
Kale is also very low in calories. Thus, it is a popular product for people who are trying to lose weight.
Red Kale: The Best Kale to Use in Smoothies
Red kale, also known as Russian kale, is the best kale variety to use in smoothies.
Just like regular curly kale, red kale also has curly leaves. The leaves of red kale, however, resemble those of arugula.
The color of the leaves is deep green with a red hue all over the leaves. The stems of Russian kale have a reddish-purple color to them.
Thus, you will have no difficulty in identifying this type of kale in your local market or supermarket greens section.
While there are several types to choose from, red kale is the best variety to use in smoothies. Here’s why.
Green smoothies have a reputation for being extremely healthy. However, they are not known as smoothies that are very pleasant to drink.
Kale smoothies may be avoided by many people. The reason is the bitter taste kale is known to have.
While kale smoothies have a ton of benefits, some people simply cannot get over the bitter-tasting kale leaves.
The solution is simple. You need to incorporate red kale into your smoothies instead of regular curly green kale.
Red kale has a semi-sweet taste. It will make your smoothies taste delicious. And you will no longer associate kale smoothies with healthy drinks that you have to drink without enjoyment.
The Texture and Versatility
Red kale has a more delicate texture compared to other kale varieties.
The upper parts of stems of red kale are also much softer than those of other varieties. This makes red kale good for using it raw (especially in pesto).
Kale is a fibrous green. This is why chewing raw kale may be difficult. However, if you are making a smoothie, especially with a variety as delicate as red kale, the problem is solved.
However, red kale can also be cooked. If you prefer to steam the kale before using it in your smoothies, red kale will work just fine for that too.
Red kale, like all other types of kale, is highly nutritious.
This cruciferous vegetable is considered to be one of the best ingredients to put in a smoothie recipe. Here’s why.
- It is rich in antioxidants. Using red kale in your smoothies will help lower inflammation in the body. It also reduces the risks of many diseases, including heart problems.
- Red kale is a better source of vitamin C than oranges. A handful of red kale has more vitamin C than the well-known citrus fruit.
- Red kale is rich in vitamin K. This group of vitamins plays a key role in calcium levels in blood and bone metabolism. Vitamin K is also important for blood clotting, a process that prevents excessive bleeding when one gets injured.
- Red kale also contains minerals, including potassium and magnesium.
How to Pick Red Kale
To pick a good bundle of red kale there are certain things to pay attention to.
While red kale is naturally more delicate than curly green kale, there is a secret to finding the most tender leaves for your smoothies.
Look for small-leaved kale. The smaller the leaves are the more delicate the taste and the texture are.
The leaves should also be undamaged, without holes and brown or yellow edges.
Dark Purple Hue
While red kale leaves come in dark green color with blue and grey undertones, a good bundle of red kale should have a dark purple hue all the way around.
The unique color of this variety of kale sets it apart from other greens in the section.
Choose red kale with moist and juicy stems. This indicates that the kale is fresh.
While many people prefer to toss the stems and use only leaves, they are still edible and quite nutritious. Thus, make sure they are in good condition.
How to Prepare and Store Red Kale
To make red kale last for a longer time, you need to wash and store in properly. Here’s how to do it.
- Remove though parts of the stem.
- Chop the leaves into smaller pieces.
- Wash red kale leaves in cold water.
- Dry the leaves using a salad spinner.
- To store the leaves in the fridge for future use, put them in a sealable plastic bag with a few pieces of paper towel. The latter will absorb the excess water and prevent the kale leaves from going bad.
- Use within 7-10 days.
How to Freeze Fresh Red Kale for Smoothies
If you want to extend the shelf life of red kale from 7 to 10 days to up to 3 months, then you should try freezing it.
To freeze kale leaves, remove the stems as they tend to get bitter when kept in the cold storage.
Put the leaves in an airtight container.
Frozen kale leaves can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 months.
There is no need to thaw the frozen leaves of kale before you add it to your smoothie. Simply decrease the amount of water or other juices that you are going to add to your shake.
Otherwise, the drink may get too watery.
For a more detailed guide on freezing greens, read this article: How To Freeze Greens Without Blanching
Tips for Using Red Kale in Smoothies
If you are going to use red kale in smoothies, we’ve got some tips to make them taste better.
While the stems of red kale are more delicate than those of curly green kale, the lower part of the stem may be too thick and bitter.
Cut the thicker parts off. If you have the time and want all of the nutrition you can get from red kale, cut the stems into smaller pieces, and simmer on low heat for a few minutes.
You can add these pieces to your smoothies to get all the vitamins and minerals without sacrificing the taste of your drink.
To get as much nutrition from your kale smoothie as you possibly can, add a fat source ingredient to your shake.
Ingredients like avocado, nuts, or chia seeds will help all the nutrient red kale provides absorb better.
If you are someone that prefers to use blanched kale leaves in smoothies instead of raw ones, you probably don’t make kale smoothies that often.
Blanching kale leaves every time you need to make a smoothie takes a lot of time and effort, but you can blanch and freeze them to make it easier!
All you need to do is to immerse the leaves into salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Then, take them out and immerse them into a bowl of ice water. Drain the leaves. Spread them out on a tray and freeze.
Once frozen, the leaves can be broken down into smaller portions and kept in sealable airtight plastic bags for later use for up to 8 months.
If you want the red kale leaves to be more delicate for your smoothies, try to massage the leaves after you have removed the stems.
However, do not overdo it. You don’t need to get the leaves mushy, you need to simply break the tough texture.
If you don’t mind a citrusy taste to your smoothie, splash some lemon juice on the leaves. It will not only make the leaves less harsh but also intensify the phytonutrient concentration.
The latter has many benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Is It Okay to Put Raw Kale in Smoothies?
Some people are against eating raw cruciferous vegetables, including kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. As kale contains a compound called thiocyanates, they are afraid that it will interfere with the thyroid function.
However, it has been proven that eating raw kale won’t bring forth any health issues unless you already have a problem with the thyroid hormone level.
If you don’t have any health problems, you’d need to eat a lot of raw kale for it to cause any problems. Thus, using raw kale in your smoothies is free of any risks.
If you’re still concerned but want all the benefits of leafy greens in your smoothie, read this article: The Best Greens Powder Without Wheatgrass