Kale: What’s in It and How to Make the Most of Kale Nutrients

Kale: What’s in It and How to Make the Most of Kale Nutrients
Presented by Spartan Training®

Kale Nutrition

You don’t have to be an expert on kale nutrition facts to benefit from this powerful and popular vegetable. Kale shares a family tree with cauliflower, collards, and another current food favorite, brussel sprouts. Its edible leaves vary in color from light green to nearly purple depending on the variety and are generally thick, fibrous and fairly tough. The most common variety is green curly kale, but there is also a Red Russian, flowering (purple and white), and the popular narrow leaf Lacinato (also known as dinosaur kale).


Like most greens, kale can be stored in the refrigerator for several days provided it is protected from air flow and moisture. Store it in a plastic bag with a couple of paper towels to keep it dry, in the crisping drawer of your refrigerator. You can even wash it in advance so it’s good to go when you need a boost from that full-on kale nutrition.

Kale Prep

One pound of fresh, untrimmed greens will typically serve two to three people. While this may look like a lot when raw, a significant portion of the plant (stems and ribs) will be discarded and most greens shrink considerably when cooked. Remove the tough stems and ribs and throw away any bruised leaves--don’t worry, this doesn’t affect kale nutrition numbers. Some people swear by massaging and cutting kale into pieces to help lessen its somewhat bitter flavor. Get rid of dirt and sand by washing kale in a sink full of water. Bunches that are especially sandy may require several soakings. Drain in a colander before you put it in the fridge.

Kale Flavoring and Cooking

Enhance Kale’s flavor with spices such as chiles, fennel, ginger, garlic, sesame, wine vinegar, and olive oil. Combine it with onions, apples, tomatoes, white beans, and apples. You can eat kale raw, sauteed, or boiled. When eaten raw, oxalic acid, naturally found in kale prevents the absorption of calcium and iron. On the other hand, cooking kale reduces the amount of vitamin C found in the baseline kale nutrition profile.

General Kale Nutrition

Kale is low carb and provides essential minerals like potassium for improved blood pressure and manganese for fat and protein metabolism. Kale is also a source of Vitamins A, C, K and other phytonutrients. (But remember to consider how cooking affects overall kale nutrition.)

Kale Nutrition for the Athlete

Training tears down the body’s defenses, and without adequate nutrition an athlete can’t have optimal performance and recovery. So eat foods that activate enzymes to help digest and synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol, and that also metabolize carbs and protein. These processes are assisted in the body by manganese, a key player in the kale nutrition profile.

Manganese is a micronutrient with major benefits, especially to athletes. Not a commonly talked about mineral, manganese plays a major role in the functions that keep athletes training while maximizing recovery. Through various processes in the body, Manganese plays a role in:

  • Activating enzymes that help to digest and synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol while also aiding in metabolism of carbs and protein
  • Helping the body create energy
  • Keeping  bones strong through manganese-activated enzymes
  • Healing  wounds (a familiar post-Spartan Race symbol of pride) by assisting with collagen formation in skin cells
  • Acting as an essential component for functions which assist glucose (aka energy) metabolism and help regulate blood sugar
  • Assisting iron metabolism

Try a kale smoothie, side, or juice and enjoy a kale nutrition boost.

Kale Recipes

Down & Dirty Detox Smoothie


  • 1 cup Kale
  • 1/2 apple
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup pineapple
  • 1 inch peeled ginger
  • 1 inch turmeric root
  • 1 teaspoon maca powder
  • ADD 1 serving of Athletic Greens


Mix all ingredients in a blender and enjoy cold.

Kale Nutrition and Full Nutrition Facts:    Calories: 235    Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 7g (Want more protein? Add a scoop of your favorite vanilla protein powder and extra water to desired consistency), Fat: 1g, Fiber: 10g      Natural Sugar: 29g

Sweet and Sassy Smoothie


  • ½ apple
  • ½ cup mango
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup kale
  • tablespoon chia seeds
  • Ice, water
  • 1 scoop Athletic Greens


Mix all ingredients in a blender and enjoy cold.

Nutrition Facts: Calories:  242, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 9g (Want more protein? Add a scoop of your favorite vanilla protein powder and extra water to desired consistency), Fat: 4g, Fiber: 13g, Natural Sugar: 24g

Kale Chips

kale chips raw cooked
Photo credit: Nicole Rodriguez @nrodriguezrdn


  • 3-4 kale leaves
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Cut out center stems of each leaf.
  3. Toss kale in bowl with 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil and spices. 1 teaspoon of each spice blend is a good place to start, unless you are craving some salt or spice, then add more.
  4. Pour 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in baking sheet.
  5. Place kale pieces in one layer on baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp.

Kale Nutrition Fact: Cooking kale helps your body absorb more of kale’s calcium and iron.

Kale Nutrition and Egg Nutrition Combo

kale eggs frying pan
Photo credit: Nicole Rodriguez @nrodriguezrdn


  • 2 cups kale
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive/coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 avocado (optional)
  • 2 tablespoonsyour favorite salsa (optional)


  1. Wash kale in cold water and remove stems. (Learn more about prepping kale here).
  2. Whisk the eggs in bowl with almond milk.
  3. In pan, warm 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat. Toss in the kale; stir; cover, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Uncover and stir kale, pushing it to side of pan, making room for your eggs.
  5. Stir and scramble eggs continuously until cooked. Mix the kale into the egg scramble, or keep separate. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with your favorite salsa and/or fresh avocado.


  • Mix in a sliced hot pepper (as hot as you want) to give this meal some kick.
  • Great with hot sauce.
  • Make a wrap!
  • Slow cook the eggs after whisking them well for ultimate fluffiness.

Break out the hot sauce. Or throw a jalapeño into the mix. This is a high vitamin breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Roll this in a wrap, and you have a solid kale nutrition base for for a breakfast burrito.

Kale Lemonade

kale lemons
Photo credit: Nicole Rodriguez @nrodriguezrdn


  • Juicer
  • Knife


  • 3 large kale leaves
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cup filtered water


  1. Wash all ingredients.
  2. Remove thick center rib of kale leaves and core apple.
  3. Juice all ingredients.
  4. Serve.

Raw kale nutrition benefit: more available vitamin C.

Kale and Apple Soup

kale soup
Photo credit: Nicole Rodriguez @nrodriguezrdn

Recipe by Rose Marie Jarry, Masterchef at Kronobar


  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups kale leaves
  • 3 cups red potatoes, diced
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup sprouted lentils


  1. In large pot, warm vegetable broth with all vegetables and fruit diced into medium-sized pieces.
  2. Cook for 15-20 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Blend.
  4. Add lentils and let simmer for five additional minutes.

The kale in this soup adds up to some hearty kale nutrition. One cup of raw kale provides more than 100% of the daily recommended amounts of vitamins A, C, and K. Kale also contains lutein, a type of carotenoid (an organic pigment) that will help keep your eyes and vision optimal.

Kale and Cilantro Pesto

Recipe by Rose Marie Jarry, Masterchef at Kronobar


  • ¼ cup dried tomatoes
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup raw pine nuts
  • Celtic salt and pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper


  1. Soak dried tomatoes in water for 5-10 minutes, or until soft.
  2. Drain the water not absorbed by the tomatoes before adding other ingredients.
  3. Place everything into a Vitamix blender and blend for 45 seconds at high.
  4. Serve on pasta, organic meat, or fish. It can also be used as a dip with crackers.
  5. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Freeze into small portions to keep it longer.

Kale Nutrition-Packed Apple Bruschetta

by Rose Marie Jarry, Masterchef at Kronobar


  • 1 cup diced kale
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ciabatta bread rolls (gluten-free optional)
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Sea salt and fresh thyme


  1. Chop all the veggies and fruit into very small pieces.
  2. Mix pieces into a bowl with the lemon juice, sea salt and fresh thyme.
  3. Slice the bread rolls horizontally to have 3 layers.
  4. Toast the bread and spread some coconut oil on them.
  5. Slice each layer of bread diagonally to end up with some triangles.
  6. Garnish the bread with the mix of veggies and eat right away.
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