Kale in a Bag, It’s That Simple

Recently, Trader Joe’s started selling kale that’s “cut cleaned and ready to go.” Not only does this make preparing my Moroccan Inspired Lamb Stew even easier, but it also makes adding kale to your diet as a whole a lot easier too. So what’s so great about kale and why should you be eating more of it?

Disclaimer: Before you read any further, I must warn you that I’m not a nutritionist, dietitian, doctor, or scientist; I’m just a girl who wants people to eat better. It’s probably wise for you to consult a professional, or better yet, do your own research about dietary choices …yadayadayada, now you may continue reading.

Kale is packed full of good stuff our bodies need to not only function properly, but to repair themselves from the environmental damage we receive on a daily basis. To start, kale is rich in carotenoids, like beta-carotene and lutein. Studies have found, that carotenoids can help restore and improve vision as well as act as a defense against ultra-violet damage to the skin.

Kale is also rich in vitamin K. Vitamin K is important for our bones and blood. Vitamin K helps calcium, something also found in kale, bind better, making bones stronger. Vitamin K, also plays a major role in blood clotting, so if you bruise easy, suffer from nose bleeds, or heavy menstrual cycles, then you might consider increasing your intake of vitamin K.

Kale is also a good source of various antioxidants, like vitamin C.  Antioxidants fight the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that will attack stable molecules in our body, in an attempt to stabilize themselves, often causing a chain reaction that can cause various diseases and even cancer. Antioxidants are stabilizing molecules that help stop and prevent the chain reaction caused by free radicals. We are exposed to free radicals on a daily basis, not only do our bodies create them, but they’re also found in cigarette smoke, smog and even sunlight, so antioxidants are very important.

Kale is also a good source of the minerals magnesium and manganese. Both magnesium and manganese are essential to good health and play a part in everything from muscle function and heart heath, to anxiety disorders and metabolism.

So the next time you’re at the market grab some kale, it’s good for you!

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Moroccan Inspired Lamb Stew

I decided I’d post this recipe before it’s a 115 degrees out and too hot for stew. Plus, my Mom keeps bugging me for it.

I didn’t grow up eating slow cooker meals, but when I went back to school, my life became that perfect storm that only a slow cooker could navigate. After a long day of class and work, standing over a stove was the last thing on my to do list. On top of that, my budget could no longer afford many of the culinary luxuries I had grown accustomed.

Having never cooked using a slow cooker, I searched the internet and what I found were very bland and boring recipes, loaded with meat and not too much else. My inner chef came out, and I came up with this Moroccan inspired Lamb Stew. It’s rich in flavor, easy to make, the ingredients aren’t too expensive, and its contains kale, a superfood.

Moroccan Inspired Lamb Stew

Makes about 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Lamb shoulder blade
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 – 14.5oz cans of tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • cayenne pepper to taste

First: Pour the liquid ingredients into your slow cooker. While you can use any canned tomatoes, I prefer the flavor of Trader Joe’s Organic Diced and Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Organic Green Chiles. The roasting of the tomatoes and the addition of the chiles, adds a smoky layer of flavor to the stew that I really enjoy more than regular canned tomatoes.

Next: Chop up the garlic, the carrots and the onion and add to your liquid mixture in the slow cooker.

Optional: Brown the lamb and spices. It’s not necessary, but I think it adds flavor. I use lamb shoulder chops, a less expensive cut of lamb. It contains a lot more connective tissue than finer cuts, like leg of lamb or loin chops, but the slow cooking process melts the tissue, leaving juicy and tender chunks of lamb meat in your stew. Mix all the spices together and

sprinkle them on both sides of the lamb before you throw it into a hot pan, with olive oil to brown. Brown the lamb for about 3-4 minutes on each side on medium high heat. Don’t worry about whether the meat is cooked thru,

since the chops will have time to cook in the slow cooker.

Then: Once browned, you can throw the whole lamb shoulder chops, bones and all, into your slow cooker. Use a little bit of chicken stock or water to de-glaze your pan. Make sure to scrape the little pieces of lamb and spices from the bottom of the pan. You want to make sure these bits of flavor get added to your stew. I have a small, 2-quart, slow cooker with only 3 settings, low, high and warm. I cook my stew for about 4 hours on high.

Lastly: Add the kale. I use 1 bunch of kale, washed. You can take the time to chop it or just pull the stalks apart with your hands. I usually add it about 20 minutes before the stew is done, just allowing enough time for the kale to become tender. Before I add the kale, I remove the bones from the stew. By now, most of the meat should have pulled away from the bones. Any meat that is still stuck to them, can be easily removed using a fork. Let the kale cook down for about 15-20 minutes.

Serve: Over couscous or rice.