(CNN)Kale has become the poster child for a kind of tongue-in-cheek mockery of virtuous eating habits over the past decade, as evidenced by the now ubiquitous "eat more kale" slogan and "keep calm and kale on" merch.
Give kale a chance — or fall in love all over again — with these 7 dishes
Despite the many jokes, memes and pop culture chatter, kale is still around. And dare I say it's still kale-ing it when it comes to popularity?
Part of the appeal of kale is that it can be prepared in so many ways. As Bubba Gump might say, you can eat it raw, sautéed, braised or simmered in a stew, roasted as part of a sheet pan meal, and make crispy chips from its leaves.
It also lends itself to almost any flavor profile you can imagine, including warm and spicy Indian curries, cheesy casseroles and rustic Tuscan sauces. It can even find its way into fruity smoothies and juices.
You can mix up your meals with different leafy varieties: puckered, velvety lacinato kale (aka dinosaur kale); frilly yet hardy green curly kale and deep purple redbor kale; and Russian red kale with its flat, tender leaves. There is also baby kale, which is also the only variety without tough stems that need to be removed before cooking and eating.
Its nutrient density is, of course, one of the reasons kale became such a superfood in the first place. Like many leafy greens, kale is high in vitamins A, C and K, as well as folic acid and lutein, and can go toe-to-toe with milk for calcium absorption. It's rich in antioxidants and glucosinolates, which can act as natural defenses against cancer and obesity.
Though kale and leafy greens appear on Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen List" for potential pesticides, it doesn't mean you should avoid eating it, according to Lourdes Castro, registered dietitian nutritionist and director of New York Univeristy's Food Lab.
As with all foods, Castro recommends eating kale in moderation and as part of a variety of greens and produce. "No one should eat one food all the time -- the more variety you have, the more your risks are mitigated," she said.
As plant-based eating has shifted from a punch line into a more welcome option for many people, kale is ready and willing to take a prime position on the plate. Fall in love with kale all over again -- or finally give it a chance -- with these recipe ideas.