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   Apr 29

Suddenly, it’s the A-list’s favourite vegetable and MARIANNE POWER soon found why: How I lost 4lb by joining the cult of kale

Marianne Power spent a week eating kale in different ways

She tried the vegetable in a smoothie, salad, facemask and even ice cream

Marianne believes she feels healthier and has continued eating kale

Gwyneth swears by it, Jennifer Aniston can’t go a day without it and Beyonce wants to tell the world about its benefits. No, it’s not a new exercise regime or anti-ageing cream – it’s a vegetable. Kale, to be exact.

Yes, this humble green leaf – a close relative of broccoli and brussels sprouts – is the latest must-have product for the A-list, who are baking it, juicing it, slicing it and even wearing kale-sloganed sweatsuits, and it looks like we’re all following suit.

Marks & Spencer says sales of kale are already up a third on the same period last year, while at Waitrose they’re up 20 per cent. Meanwhile, kale is appearing on beauty shelves and a cookbook called Fifty Shades Of Kale has just been published.

Marianne Power (pictured) tries the cult of kale

It’s cheap, too – with a supermarket bag costing just £1 – so I’m going to spend a week finding out why it’s now so cool. I will have kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner, use kale beauty potions and even wear accessories made of kale.

DAY ONE: Gwynnie’s smoothie

The foundation of any kale-based diet is the smoothie. There are countless versions online but I follow recipes recommended by Gwyneth Paltrow on her website Goop, who promises an ‘invigorating way to start the day’.

As well as being rich in magnesium (good for circulation, nerves and bones), fibre, iron and calcium, kale contains 17 times more vitamin C than carrots. No wonder it’s considered a superfood.

A smoothie using the wonder-vegetable is the foundation of any good kale diet

Monday morning and I start with a recipe that involves adding five kale leaves, an apple, juice of one lemon, a handful of ginger shavings and three leaves of mint to a blender with either coconut water (Vita Coco, £1.99) or tap water and a dash of almond milk (Alpro, £1.69).

You can use a blender (which retains the fibre) or a juicer (which blitzes the ingredients and removes bulk).

However, Gwyneth loves the uber-expensive Vitamix blender, so that’s what I use, even if it costs £500. The high-powered blades are said to extract 100 per cent of the nutrients from fruit and vegetables.

I add the ingredients, blitz and two seconds later I have my Paltrow-patented smoothie, for the princely sum (minus the blender) of 75p. Although it looks like green gunge, it tastes fresh, clean and zingy.

I think this might be the start of a whole new me, until lunch when I’m desperate for bread and cheese. Instead, I feast on kale salad. Again, there are hundreds of recipes online – ranging from kale with parmesan and walnuts to kale Caesar salad. I keep it basic: raw, chopped kale drizzled with oil, lemon and tuna. It’s all wrong – chewy, fishy and really unpleasant.

I’m meeting friends in the evening, so make a very basic omelette with red peppers and steamed kale. But I fail to drain it sufficiently so I’m left with gloop not Goop!

DAY TWO: Massage your salad

I add avocado to my smoothie to make it more filling, and swap the acidic lemon for lime. At roughly 200 calories, it feels much more like a meal and it’s tastier, too.

Buoyed by my success, I decide to apply myself to lunch. That’s when I discover the secret art to making a kale salad. Because kale leaves are so fibrous, most recipes suggest marinating the leaves in olive oil, salt and lemon juice for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the acid to break down the fibres.

The secret art to making a kale salad is to marinate the leaves in olive oil, salt and lemon juice for at least 15 minutes

Alternatively, you can steam the kale lightly first, then rinse with cold water. The most important thing is that if you are buying whole leaves (as opposed to ready chopped) you have to remove the tough stalk in the middle.

Confusingly, I also keep reading advice to ‘massage the kale’. Apparently, rubbing the leaves in both hands assists in breaking down the fibres, making it easier to eat.

And so lunch is kale salad with pomegranate and feta. After marinating and massaging, it tastes much better and feels like a bit of a culinary triumph. For dinner, I blitz up kale and sweet potato soup in the Vitamix again. It’s a delight.

I do have the odd sugar craving but kale is incredibly filling, however my stomach gurgles as my system adjusts to this much roughage.

DAY THREE: Bin the stalks

Now I am a kale connoisseur, I realise that no amount of stewing will ever make the stalks edible. So remove them and blanch the leaves for a minute in very salty water, then saute in butter, garlic and salt for another minute or so.

‘Now I am a kale connoisseur, I realise that no amount of stewing will ever make the stalks edible’ explains Marianne

The greens are soft, tasty but with just enough bite. I add sauteed bacon and a poached egg and serve up a satisfying lunch. In the evening, I do stir-fry kale with garlic, chilli and chicken. Also delicious. I can certainly feel my tummy is flatter and I’m sure my skin is brighter.

DAY FOUR: Bring on the chocolate

So obsessed have I become with the Vitamix that I am creating new smoothies every morning. Today, blueberries, banana, kale and almond milk. Rich and sweet, with the kale adding a salty tang.

For lunch I make savoury muffins with kale, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and toasted pine nuts.

They’re soft, slightly salty and gorgeous. Now my meals have become more robust, every mouthful requires what seems like minutes of chewing, which slows down my eating considerably.

Although fiddly, kale crisps dipped in dark chocolate is delicious

Tonight, I have friends over and I whip up a batch of kale crisps, which you can also buy in Pret A Manger. Making your own is easy – simply remove the core of the kale and chop the leaves into quite large chunks.

Drizzle with olive oil and lots of salt (and chilli powder if you’d like) and bake at 175c for eight minutes. They are crispy, salty and delicious, with 80pc of your daily iron intake.

I then see a recipe for chocolatey kale crisps, dipping the baked leaves into melted dark chocolate. It’s ridiculously fiddly – the leaves keep breaking – but the results are great, like a crunchy, salty chocolate. My first sugar fix of the week couldn’t have come fast enough.

DAY FIVE: Make a facemask

Another smoothie. By now I’m feeling very clean inside, a little too clean, truth be told. I feel like I’m going to the bathroom all the time. I don’t think this would be the most practical of diets in a busy office.

My carb cravings are significantly curbed and lunch is more kale salad, with chickpeas and bacon, and dinner is pasta and pesto made with kale instead of basil. Pile parmesan, toasted pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and kale in a blender. Anything tastes good loaded with mountains of cheese and oil.


Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in Europe

Such is the depth of the kale craze, that you can even add kale to your beauty regime.

UK organic skincare range Nourish, have a kale eye-cream, hand cream and facemask. Kale is full of vitamin A, thought to reduce wrinkles and helps the skin repair itself, and vitamin K, which tackles dark circles. Revital Eyes Kale Biominetic Anti-Ageing Eye Cream (£29.95, beingcontent.com) promises to reduce redness and puffiness.

To save money, I whip up my own facemask using an online recipe. I mix spinach, kale, olive oil and an ordinary face cream in a blender. I look – and smell – hideous but my skin does have an afterglow and any spots seem to have vanished.

DAY SIX: If you can’t eat it, wear it!

Forget kale dipped in chocolate, real kale lovers have it dipped in gold. While googling ‘kale fashion’ – as you do – I find a beautiful kale leaf necklace on Etsy.com for £40.

Yes, a real kale leaf dipped in 14-carat gold by Gem and Metal Designs . Delicate and ever so slightly quirky, four people comment on it the first day I wear it. Gimmicky, yes, but also pretty.

DAY SEVEN: Green, mean and lean

Marianne even made kale ice cream by putting it in her Vitamix with coconut milk, lime juice, maple syrup, and ice and blitz before freezing

I celebrate the end of the week with kale ice cream. I simply select ‘freezing mode’ on the ever-talented Vitamix, add kale, coconut milk, lime juice, maple syrup, and ice and blitz before freezing. It’s a bit watery but perfectly pleasant.

So how was my week? Well, aside from severe kale fatigue, I was surprised at how versatile it is, and it’s a bargain to bulk up a meal with fibre and nutrients. What wasn’t a bargain was my Vitamix blender, but I have fallen in love with it.

At the end of the week I’d lost around 4lb; plus my jawline doesn’t just look clearer, but firmer, which I can only attribute to all the extra chewing I’ve had to do.

I’m still making a kale smoothie every morning and I’ve swapped it for lettuce in my salads. Kale may be a fad – but who cares, when I feel so much better for it?

Source: Daily Mail

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