You would think that all vegetables are good for a keto diet. They are definitely not! Keto is quite different from other mainstream diets as it has very strict carb requirements. This means that veggies that you might consider healthy may not be allowed in keto!
With this realization, I embarked on a quest to find out whether my favorite vegetables were keto or not. One of which was kale – the new superstar, garnish you find everywhere. Is Kale keto? Yes, it is! This is because this green leafy vegetable has very low carb content along with being minimally processed.
Continue reading to find out everything about this winter vegetable and what makes it keto-friendly. And if you are not a fan of kale, you might be tempted to give it a try once you realize how healthy it is!
The Leafy Mystery: What is Kale?
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the mustard family. Some of the other veggies from this family include cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Don’t worry; it’s not quite like broccoli! Instead, it is pretty close to cabbage in terms of the toughness of its leaf.
Although kale has just started to get its due limelight, it has been planted for centuries. In fact, during the Middle Ages, vegetable was planted extensively to feed both livestock and humans! Recently, it has gotten immensely popular in the US as well as Europe.
Overall, the nutritional profile of kale is quite compatible with a keto diet. For starters, 1 cup of kale has
approximately 0.9 grams of carbs, out of which 0.7 grams are net carbs.
The Leafy Types
You can think of kale as an umbrella term for a variety of subtypes. Some of the popular types of kale include:
- Dinosaur kale, also called Tuscan kale, has thin green leaves and a mild taste.
- Curly kale with bright green leaves and a peppery taste is the most common type of kale out there.
- Russian kale is quite rare and has distinct flat fringed leaves that can range from green in color to purple.
- Redbor kale has ruffled leaves that are purple or red in color.
The Preparation Process
Kale can be prepared in different ways. But regardless of what you are preparing it for, always remove its stalks since they are inedible! Some of my favorite ways of preparing kale are:
- Sauteed kale to be added to other food items like your eggs.
- Smoothie by combining different vegetables with other healthy food items and milk.
- Adding it to stews, soups and curries for a kick of hearty flavor.
- Roasted or baked chips with different seasonings.
Exploring the Answer: Is Kale Keto Friendly?
Let’s revisit the question at hand, shall we? Is Kale keto, and why? Firstly, yes, it is keto-friendly. And to understand why this is the case, you should understand how keto works.
The Keto Process
In keto, you do what you don’t do in any other diet – increase your fat consumption and decrease your carbs and protein intake. Mind-boggling, isn’t it? Until I started my diet, I was quite skeptical of the process too.
But, the science behind keto is actually quite reasonable. The diet aims to reduce your carbs intake to such an extent that your body is forced to burn fat and protein for energy, hence accelerating weight loss.
While the actual figures may vary depending on the individual situation, generally, in a keto diet, your total daily calories should come 70 percent from fat, 20 percent from protein and 10 percent from carbs. On average, you should consume 1800 to 2000 calories daily maximum.
Bringing in the Kale
Ten percent of carbs as a source of daily calorie intake is not a lot. In fact, it is so less that you need to ensure that you don’t mistakenly overconsume it! Hence, those on keto diets are always on the lookout for food that has minimal net carbs (carbs that can be broken down).
Kale is keto-friendly because it delivers just this – low net carbs!
Kale: Nutritional Profile
There is a lot more that kale delivers nutritionally other than low carbs. To best visualize it, see the numbers for yourself. According to USDA, 20.6 grams (one cup) of raw kale has:
- 7.2 calories
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 0.9 grams of carbs
- 0.2 grams of sugar
- 0.8 grams of fiber
- 10.9 milligrams of sodium
- 0.6 grams of protein
- 71.7 milligrams of potassium
- 52.3 milligrams of calcium
- Vitamins A, K and C
The Numbers Explained
The fact that kale doesn’t add much to the daily calorie or carbs count makes it an excellent addition to keto, especially if you like munching on food like me!
Also, note that the quantity of carbs isn’t something you need to consider. Instead, it is the net carbs that matter since net carbs are what potentially spike up the blood sugar level as they are digestible. The fact that kale has a low glycemic index is a representation of the lack of effect the vegetable has on blood sugar levels.
Can you incorporate kale into a Keto Diet?
I was surprised at the sheer number of ways you can incorporate kale into your keto diet! Here are some of the kale-based recipes that have made my keto diet much easier.
1. Keto Kale Caesar Salad
You think of Caesar salad, and your mind automatically goes to dairy dressing! It turns out you can enjoy a delicious salad without the dairy ingredients. To make a keto kale Caesar salad, you need coconut oil, bacon, kale, black pepper, chicken breast, anchovies, garlic, paleo mayo, raspberries, mustard, and salt.
The mixture of kale, raspberries and eggs provides the salad with such texture and flavors that you don’t even miss the additional dressing.
2. Egg Muffins (Paleo Kale and Chives)
Who knew egg muffins could be healthy too? Rather than the usual breakfast, you can make yourself an egg muffin with almond milk, chives, kale, pepper and salt. The good thing about this dish is that kale can be substituted with other similar vegetables like spinach. So, there is a lot of versatility, and hence, a lower chance of growing tired of the food.
3. Mushrooms stuffed with kale and chicken
This dish has kale, chicken sausage, bell pepper, garlic, salt and avocado oil in it. Stuffed vegetables are perfect for those who crave texture in their food. Stuffed mushrooms make for an excellent appetizer but can also serve as a meal for those with low appetites.
4. Hamburger with poached eggs and kale
Add poached eggs, kale, onion, mushrooms and vegetable broth to your meal to make it keto-friendly. The trick here is to poach the eggs just enough so that the yolk is soft. This would allow you to use the egg as a substitute for a sauce while still satisfying your craving for comfort food.
5. Kale and Avocado Salad
You can’t go wrong with adding vegetables to a salad! And this is surely the case with kale and avocado salad. Make sure to use avocado or olive oil in it for maximum benefits. You can also add pumpkin seeds, lemon juice and black pepper for a little kick of flavor.
As a pro tip, always remember to massage the kale beforehand to ensure that it breaks down a bit. This way, it will become easier to digest.
6. Bacon and Kale Breakfast Skillet
If you haven’t had bacon with kale before, trust me when I say that you are missing out big time (and I was, too, not long ago). Although I like kale, at times, I don’t prefer how earthy its taste gets. But, with bacon, this con of eating kale is eliminated as kale becomes an extension of the meaty flavor.
For this breakfast skillet, you will need bacon, coconut milk, kale, salt and garlic. You can either choose to eat it alone or add it as a side dish to pork chops!
Now that you know the answer to “is kale keto” (it is), do you think you will incorporate it into your keto diet? I would highly recommend you do so, considering that it has various health benefits associated with it. And if you prepare it the right way, it turns out to be very delicious.
Also, now is definitely the time to jump onto the kale bandwagon, as everyone around the world has started adopting it as a garnish for pretty much everything!
If you think kale isn’t for you, there are various other beneficial food items that you can enjoy on keto. But, there are also many seemingly healthy food options that are not allowed.
To know which you can enjoy and which you should stay away from, check out some of my other diets. As someone who is on a keto diet, I report my findings about prohibited and allowed food items so that my fellow dieters don’t have to. Peruse and decide!
If you want to learn more about keto friendly foods, click on one of the links below: