Peak Kale

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First published 2015

Incredibly, we have long passed that point in time when the maximum rate of extraction of kale has been reached, yet if the current season of MasterChef is anything to go by, crispy kale is the garnish of choice, adorning four dishes at last count. Coupled with the porcine darling of the protein set pork belly, kale must be the most over used ingredient of the modern era. While I doubt that the broccoli and cauliflower are ganging up on the kale in the coolroom and piffing kipflers at the dark green leaves, the sustainability of planting copious kale must be respected.

Incredibly, we have long passed that point in time when the maximum rate of extraction of kale has been reached, yet if the current season of MasterChef is anything to go by, crispy kale is the garnish of choice, adorning four dishes at last count. Coupled with the porcine darling of the protein set pork belly, kale must be the most over used ingredient of the modern era. While I doubt that the broccoli and cauliflower are ganging up on the kale in the coolroom and piffing kipflers at the dark green leaves, the sustainability of planting copious kale must be respected.

An organic farmer in Duranbah in the Tweed Valley is responsible for introducing Cavolo Nero seeds into Australia from the UK (blame him!). Back in the days of Cabarita Ocean Health Retreat the farmer would bring a bounty of kale and other hand-planted goodness to our kitchen door. Back in 2012 he told me he had to make room in his impressive garden beds for more and more kale due to popular demand.

In 2013, my friend Matt Preston came to Caba for some well-deserved rest and a jolly good dose of my cured salmon, marinated kale and pink grapefruit salad that you can read more about here. In Mexico City last year I globally declared that we had reached Peak Kale in my speech at the Global Wellness Summit. ThermoMistress and good buddy Dani Valent also pronounced ‘Peak Kale’ at my Melbourne Masterclass last year. But just like topsy, kale keeps on keeping on. Why? I call it the MasterChef effect.

This is part a phenomenon that has made food the new rock ‘n’ roll, and ‘chefs the new rock stars’, to quote my favourite voice. Two years ago Dr. Nat and I shared our concerns that consumption of raw kale was not only causing digestive disorders including bloating, flatulence and pain, but more seriously it may be ‘stuffing up your hormones’. You see cruciferous vegetables, think stinky stuff like Brussels sprouts, cabbage and the aforementioned broccoli and cauliflower, contain compounds called indoles that can interfere with the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland, and can contribute to inducing the formation of a goiter. The thyroid gland governs metabolism and, well, ask any card-carrying woman about her metabolism and she’ll assure you that a sheila needs a swinging metabolism like the Liberal Party needs a swinging voter.

So the next time you shove that raw kale down the valley of your Vitamix, ask yourself this, “Do I fancy a Brussels sprout smoothie”? Doubtful. So be sure to blanch your kale before you eat it, Cooking for 30 minutes significantly reduces the amount of goitrogens and nitriles, as will marinating those raw leaves to break down the goitrogenic compounds before you chew.

Isn’t it time we gave peas a chance?!

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