Written by Macklin Stern, editorial intern Brace yourselves, FITNESS readers: A global kale shortage may be coming. Are you still breathing? Apparently kale is a lot more popular now than it was in 2012 (310 percent more popular, according to recent research from GrubHub), meaning our favorite leafy green may not be as readily available in the near future. But don't worry. We're taking the necessary precautions to help our fellow green freaks cope. We’ve even placed “Kale missing; Reward: happiness and health” signs all over Manhattan (just kidding—though we would if it would help). We also turned to nutrition expert Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., FITNESS advisory board member, to give us the scoop on some alternative green superfoods that provide similar benefits to kale. All are packed with Vitamin K, which promotes bone health; zeaxanthin and lutein, which are vital for eye health; and iron, which helps carry oxygen throughout the body. And because they're so good for you (and so low-cal), Bonci suggests eating a cup of these raw veggies each day (or 1/3 cup cooked). Get ready to fill that crisper!
Collard greens: Sauté some onions, toss in a little curry, add a few golden raisins, and you've got your next mouth-watering way to gnaw on these babies. “It provides a sweetness that counteracts the natural bitterness of this green,” explains Bonci.
Mustard greens: Into eggs? Try some mustard green frittatas. “I usually take a bunch of different vegetables and egg to hold it together, and then spread about 1/3-cup of store-bought bruschetta sauce over the top,” she says.
Turnip greens: "You can take on a Middle Eastern dish, like Sleek (a dish typically full of kale, bulgar wheat and black-eyed peas), but instead of making it with kale, add turnip greens," she says. "You can sauté it in olive oil, then add in the traditional ingredients. It’s wonderful.”
Spinach: Sprinkle on some lemon olive oil or orange olive oil to bring out the flavor, recommends Bonci. "Doing this won't bring back those images that people have of slimy spinach in the cafeteria, which is why most people don’t eat it," she says. Yep, we remember.
Swiss chard: Throw some in a skillet and add a little lemon zest to amp up the "yum" factor, explains Bonci. Then you can use it to build your favorite lunch salad. Easy peasy. If you do manage to get your hands on some kale and need an extra crunch, learn how to make some scrumptious kale chips. No need for greasy potato chips here. Photo by Lisa Shin