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Cavolo Nero: a must-eat vegetable!

When I give presentations about preparing for the marathon, nutrition is one of the key topics I talk about – after all, the right amount and quality of fuel is crucial for supporting hard training. And within nutrition, there are two things I emphasise – eating highly nutritious foods, of which one type is green leafy vegetables, and getting the basics on food right before resorting to supplements.

Enter Cavolo Nero, a long, crinkly-leafed member of the cabbage family, originally from Tuscany but now grown in Lincolnshire, and appearing on a supermarket shelf near you! Its name means ‘black cabbage’ in Italian, and you can see why, as its leaves are a deep, deep dark green colour, almost black. They are so dense-looking, that you can almost see that it must be full of vitamins and minerals. According to the website, Cavolo Nero is a source of vitamins A, C and K, the B vitamins group, lutein, fibre, calcium, manganese, copper and iron. That sounds pretty nutritious to me!

Cavolo Nero has a distinct flavour so I cook it in a simple way, lightly fried in olive oil with a little garlic. When heated, its dark leaves turn a brighter green colour and look delightfully fresh and healthy.

Living in Teddington, I often pass through Hampton Court Palace on my runs, and have spotted Cavolo Nero growing in the special Palace Kitchen Garden which has been created like it would have been during Tudor times. I wonder if Henry VIIIth enjoyed Cavolo Nero on his visits up the Thames to his countryside Palace many centuries ago?

If you haven’t tried it yet, give Cavolo Nero a try – it is delicious, nutritious and should make you run fast!

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