Top | — A Vegetable Ignoramus Expands Her Repertoire

Stealth Vegetable: Organic Russian Green Kale

(post, Cristin Couzens)

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I can’t place where I saw it first.  We never had it at home, and I certainly never ordered it in a restaurant, on purpose.  The name alone leaves a bitter, dry taste in my mouth. 

Kale sounds menacing. 

Once again, I turned to Lyle Stanley of Gee Creek Farm for some words of encouragement.  His young shoots of Organic Russian Green Kale were labeled with the descriptor ‘sweet’ in all capitals with an exclamation point. 

A trick, it must be. 

The small leaves of green kale were rubbery and frilly like parsley.  Gag-inducing on sight. 

Lyle recommended I start slow.  "Best to add it to a stew where it can soften and mellow.  That way, you can get all of the nutrition but not the bitterness,” he said.  “The nutrients will hold up in the temperatures of your stew.  People aren’t used to bitter foods.”

Accustomed to the uber-hoppy beers brewed in the Northwest, I replied, “I like bitter beer…”  Not even a hint of a smile from Lyle.

As he bent down to pick up a few stray kale leaves on the ground to place them back in the bin, I scooped a few handfuls into a plastic bag.  Back home, I added the kale to my Three Sisters Stew, made with a spice blend I picked up at the Portland Farmers’ Market. 

Lyle was right, it was like the kale wasn’t even there.  Stealth vegetables.  Brilliant! 

Thinking I was the first one to come up with the phrase ‘stealth vegetable,' I googled it to see if I was right.  Not so.  Penn State published a study on stealth vegetables in July 2007, examining whether kids would notice the difference between typical spaghetti sauce and a spaghetti sauce laced with pureed cauliflower and broccoli.  They didn’t. 

Three months later, The New York Times published an article questioning whether or not it was a good idea to trick kids into eating their vegetables.  Apparently, there’s an entire movement promoting slipping vegetables unknowingly into kid food.  Critics are concerned this practice could detract from developing a healthy connection to vegetables later in life.

How about if, later in life, you continue to trick yourself with stealth vegetables?

Stealth Vegetable Sources:
The Penn State Study:
NY Times article: