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Ask the Diet Doctor: Healthy Hybrid Veggies

npr.org

Q: What’s the deal with new "hybrid veggies" that I’ve been hearing about? Are they any better for me than regular kale or broccoli?

A: Kale has quickly moved out of new and trendy territory to become the popular poster child of healthy eating. Today, it's on every menu and every grocery store shelf—even Michelle Obama fed kale chips to Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell touting that they were a "healthy alternative to potato chips."

While the leafy green is a nutritional powerhouse loaded with potassium, vitamin K, vitamin A, and calcium, many people (myself included) don’t really enjoy the taste of kale. I find it tough and bitter. If you’re in the same boat, you’ll be glad to hear that there are two new vegetables poised to be the buzzed-about superfoods of 2015 with better taste and even better nutrition. (And if you happen to love it, be sure to try these 10 New Ways to Eat Kale!)

After all, the most important part of eating healthy is actually eating healthy. So if you’ve tried kale in the past and weren’t a huge fan, then these two vegetables should be top on your list to try.

1. Kalettes or Kale Sprouts
If you think of the most nutritious veggies, kale and Brussels sprouts probably come to mind. Now imagine those two vegetables had a baby. The result is the kalette (pictured above). Kalettes have small delicate leaves that have the great, nutty flavor of Brussels sprouts and get crispy like kale chips when you roast them. Plus, they’re highly nutritious: one cup of kalettes contains 5g of fiber, 90 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, and 15 percent of the RDA for iron. This natural combination of vitamin C and iron is key for maximizing your body’s ability to absorb plant based iron sources.

Try It: Oven Roasted Kalettes
Veggies as delicious as these don’t need a ton of seasoning to taste good. This recipe is as simple as it gets and the end result is addictive.

Ingredients:
1 8-ounce bag of kalettes (available at most Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
Ground ginger and cinnamon (optional, but these spices make a great flavor combination)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread kalettes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss with ground ginger and cinnamon, if using. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges become crispy.

2. Broccoleaf
If you’ve ever grown broccoli in a garden, you know that the broccoli florets are just part of the plant. A broccoli plant also contains leaves that are edible, but generally discarded. In an effort to use as much of the plant as possible, Foxy Produce has started selling broccoli leaves, or Broccoleaf, in the produce section of grocery stores across the country. (Also check out these 10 New Healthy Foods to Buy This Fall!)

It’s less like broccoli and more like kale 2.0, but broccoli leaves are more tender than kale and are fortunately lacking the bitter bite you often get from kale. They contain high levels of calcium, vitamin C, A, and K. You can use them in many of the same ways: baked as chips, sautéed, in green juices, or if you are like my three-year-old son, raw. Here’s my favorite way to eat them.

Try It: Broccoleaf Chips
Just like kale chips, but better.

Ingredients:
4 broccoli leaves, deveined and chopped into bite sized pieces
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread out leaves on a baking sheet, in a single layer (if they overlap they won’t be as crispy). Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. You can get creative with seasonings here too.
2. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve and eat fresh. The sooner you eat them the better.

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