Spinach ain't got nuthin' on kale. Nutrition could be its middle name. Wait, don't go... kale is fun!

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, along with cabbage, radishes and broccoli and it packs an enormous nutritional punch besides being edible from the stem up.

First, the nutrition: It's high in Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Those vitamins are available at higher than the daily recommended allowance per cup, but kale also provides calcium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, potassium and iron. Not to mention that it's very low in calories.

It was a long time before I embraced kale, having eaten it at restaurants where it was cooked to death, but it came in a package of "mesclun mix" that I planted for salads and it stayed. The same plant has been there for three or four years now so I had to find ways to use it. Kale leaves can be cooked in many ways, so I won't go into recipes here, but don't overlook kale chips when you go searching for recipes!

Do you have trouble growing things because you garden in the north? Never fear because kale LIKES cold weather. As a matter of fact, my kale stays green year 'round and I live in northern Colorado where it gets pretty cold. Granted, it's a little protected in an ell of the house, but it's outside all year. That's a definite plus, because it's still growing fresh when most other greens are long gone.

This year it bloomed very early and there's another story. Kale buds are not only edible, they're delicious. They taste a little like broccoli, but better - maybe because they aren't as abundant. Eaten fresh from the plant, they're incredibly crisp and just plain old good. The flowers are edible, too. I sprinkle them in salads for an eye pleasing dish, and they provide nutrition, too.

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