Yes! Leafy vegetables contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and flavonoids that are responsible for better health, especially brain health. They are also a good source of helpful roughage. Many fall into the cruciferous family, including kale, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard, beets, cabbage, dandelions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. Here we start with super food kale.
Benefits of kale
Kale, one of the most nutritious vegetables, was virtually unknown in many US kitchens until the 1990s. It is a rich source of vitamins A, B6, C and E as well as folic acid and manganese, and also contains thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and various minerals such as iron, potassium and phosphorus. Additionally, kale is a great source of two main antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin (lutein and zeaxanthin), which can potentially protect against cancer.
Adding small amounts of kale to your dog’s diet can help improve eyesight and gut health, as well as liver detoxification and fight off infection. And if your dog needs to lose a few pounds, lightly cooked kale can be added to their meal as a topper, increasing their satisfaction without adding a lot of calories.
Types of kale
There are three main types. The cutest lacinato (also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale) is dark green with long, flat leaves and the easiest to use. There is the Curly variety, with very curly green leaves that is a bit bitter, and finally the mildest of the three, a Russian variety with lobed leaves and magenta stems. (See picture above.)
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How to add kale to your dog
Kale is a great ingredient in DIY dog food recipes, both in raw food and lightly cooked recipes.
Cooking lowers the kale’s nutritional profile, so it’s best to lightly steam or blanch it. To blanch kale (and other vegetables), quickly submerge it in boiling water first and then in very cold ice water. Not only is blanching a great way to cook leafy vegetables, it also removes dirt that may cling to the leaves and helps maintain more vitamins and flavor in the vegetables.
Most recipes for human consumption recommend that you remove the leaves from their woody stems / ribs before cooking. However, if you are using it on dogs, you can enclose the ribs by chopping or pulverizing them and then lightly frying or roasting them. You can also reserve and freeze the stems to add a future meal for your dogs.
Finely chop or chop the leaves. Then massage the leaves by hand for a few minutes so they are tender enough to eat without cooking. (This extra massage step makes kale a great salad ingredient for us, but it’s best to easily cook kale for dogs.)
You can also puree steamed or blanched kale – leaves and ribs included – in a food processor or a Vitamix blender. Add a splash of steaming or blanching water to make pureeing easier.
KALE RECIPES FOR THE TWO OF US
Check out this recipe from Kathryne Taylor at Cookie & Kate for delicious baked dog-sized frittatas. They are a great treat for a nutritious brunch for both of us.
KALE SMOOTHIES, FROZEN TREATMENTS & CHIPS
Many people include kale in their own smoothie mixes. You can do the same for your dogs by whipping up a dog superfood smoothie with kale, blueberries, banana, yogurt, chia seeds, and other fruits / vegetables. Freeze in silicone molds or ice cube trays to prepare refreshing, tasty summer treats, or add a little to a filled Kong recipe, then freeze the Kong. Or use a few spoons of this smoothie mixture as a meal topper.
Another way to share these nutritious leafy greens with your dog is to prepare a special batch of kale chips for both of you. It’s that easy.
Krispie Cabbage Chips
Preheat the oven to 300 °. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
- 1 bunch of kale, the Tucson variety is more robust for fries
- ½ tablespoon of olive oil
1. Wash and dry the kale thoroughly – it’s important to dry it so the olive oil will stick to it.
Remove the stems and tear the leaves into chip-sized pieces.
2. Mix the kale chips with the olive oil in a medium-sized bowl and massage in.
3. Carefully place the chips on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Don’t let the chips touch them. Kale needs space to get crispy. (If you are using spices – only for some of the chips intended for you – such as salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, parmesan, etc., sprinkle the chips on top now.)
4. Bake for 20 minutes, turn carefully and bake a little longer if you want the chips to be particularly crispy. But be careful to avoid getting burned!
5. Let the kale chips cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet. They will continue to get crispy as they cool down. (You can always put them back in the oven at a lower temperature if they don’t get crispy enough for your taste.)
It’s best to eat the kale chips soon, but leftovers can be stored in sealed containers for a short time.