Belonging to the cabbage family, kohlrabi (botanical name Brassica oleracea gongylodes) is indigenous to Northern Europe. Kohlrabi is a German term meaning "Cabbage turnip". In 1554, a European botanist discovered this vegetable for the first time and, by the turn of the 16th century, kohlrabi was familiar vegetable in England, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Tripoli as well as the eastern parts of the Mediterranean region. The flavour of kohlrabi is very similar to that of white turnips, but it is definitely more subtle. Kohlrabi is of the same size like an orange and you can recognize this vegetable quite easily as it has a strange shape.
The kohlrabi plant bears large leaves that are joined at its bulb-like base, which are edible and loaded with various nutriments. Two types of kohlrabi are available - green and purple. While the green vegetable has a pale color, the purple version of this vegetable is deep-hued. Kohlrabi can be consumed raw as well as after cooking.
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In fact, the enlarged bulb of the purple kohlrabi is considered to be the most valuable part of this vegetable. The bulb has a somewhat spherical and roughly heart-shaped. The bulb is wraps by a deep purple skin in a rounded manner and it gives rise to numerous chunky stems that expand to form the edible leaves. The bulbous base of the purple kohlrabi is crunchy, solid, juicy and sweet, something akin to the flavour of a turnip, having small tinges of cabbage. Both, the leaves as well as the stems of this plant are tender and juicy. Small, young bulbs that have grown up to three inches or even less in diameter are said to be the perfect crop, because they have an extremely subtle flavour.
The color of the purple kohlrabi is only restricted to its skin and, after they are peeled, the ivory-hued flesh of the bulb is revealed. In fact, even the green kohlrabi also has an ivory flesh. This vegetable can be cooked in various different methods. While the raw shredded bulb can be used in salads and slaws, you may also roast or braise peeled shredded bulbs or use them in soups or stir fry them. Some people also bake the purple kohlrabi or pickle the bulb. In addition, you can make a delectable curry with the bulb and leaves of the plant. The chopped bulbs enhance the flavour of casseroles and various luscious pies.
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It is interesting to note that botanists have developed kohlrabi through artificial selection for a swollen and almost spherical growth (technically known as lateral meristem growth). Growing in the wild, kohlrabi's nature is akin to that of cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard greens and kale. In fact, kohlrabi is bred from these species, which are identical to the wild cabbage plant (botanical name Brassica oleracea).
Kohlrabi's taste as well as texture is akin to that of a cabbage heart or broccoli stem. Nevertheless, kohlrabi is sweeter and milder having a higher flesh to skin ratio. Especially, the young, small stems of the plant may be equally crispy and succulent as an apple.
Barring the cultivar called Gigante, kohlrabi grown in spring and having a diameter of more than 5 cm has a propensity to become woody similar to the completely mature vegetable that grows about 10 cm in diameter. In fact, this cultivar of kohlrabi can grow to a large size, and quality-wise, still be good for consumption. It takes anything between 55 days and 60 days for the plant to mature after the day of sowing. The mature bulb of the plant weighs about 150 grams and remains in good shape for as many as 30 days following maturity.
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Kohlrabi is a very wholesome vegetable, which is loaded with different vitamins and dietary fiber. It contains rich amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and the B vitamins, in addition to carotenoids. Like all other vegetables belonging to the cabbage family, kohlrabi also encloses rich amounts of different antioxidants that are effective in protecting us from certain cancer forms - especially prostate and colon cancers.
Kohlrabi possesses anti-cancer attributes, which aid in combating as well as eliminating carcinogenic cells. Nevertheless, it is essential that people who wish to use this vegetable for its anti-cancer properties should consult their physician prior to using it, especially if you are taking any medication or undergoing any therapy for this ailment.
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As kohlrabi is rich in potassium content, consumption of this vegetable alkalizes the blood, thereby helping to treat as well as prevent several diseases. Owing to its elevated level of potassium, this vegetable can be effectively used for preparing alkalizing beverages to neutralize excessive acidity.
Consuming kohlrabi, which has high levels of potassium, helps to normalize the heart rate and, at the same time, lessen the chances of developing health issues related to the heart.
Several of the health benefits offered by kohlrabi are very akin to those offered by other vegetables belonging to the cruciferous family. These vegetables, including kohlrabi, contain high levels of various antioxidants that facilitate combating asthma as well as other problems related to the lungs. Therefore, it is advisable that you should incorporate this vegetable as an ingredient in your daily juice. If possible, blend this vegetable with the juices extracted from green apples, celery and carrots.
Drinking kohlrabi juice blended with the juice of green apples helps in lowering the blood cholesterol levels. Potassium contained in this vegetable helps to trigger this action.
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Kohlrabi is also effective in alleviating problems related to indigestion. Extract the juice of kohlrabi and blend it with the juices extracted from green apples, celery and carrot. Drinking this mixed juice helps to soothe the digestive system.
As kohlrabi contains rich amounts of different vitamins and enzymes, consuming this vegetable helps to invigorate the body and, at the same time, normalize the functioning of the different muscles and nerves. Drink one glass of kohlrabi and carrot juice as the first thing in the morning to provide an additional boost.
Similar to a number of other vegetables belonging to the Brassica family, kohlrabi also encloses a number of phytochemicals, such as asisothiocyanates, sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol, which promote our overall health. Findings of several researches have shown that the antioxidants contained by kohlrabi help to defend us from colon and prostate cancers.
Consuming kohlrabi juice also cures problems related to the skin. It is advisable that you should drink one full glass of kohlrabi and carrot juice early in the morning every day along with lots of water all through the day for better results.
Kohlrabi is also excellent for boosting the immune system. This feature of the vegetable is attributed to the high levels of vitamin C contained by kohlrabi. Consuming one cup (250 ml) of raw kohlrabi provides us with roughly 140 percent of our recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this nutrient. As we all are aware, a potent immune system helps to prevent all types of ailments - ranging from the common cold to cardiovascular ailments and even cancers. Vitamin C not only helps to make the immune system robust, but also aids in augmenting the body's ability to absorb iron from ingested foods. As the same time, vitamin C regenerates the supply of vitamin E.
In addition to having very low saturated fat content, kohlrabi also contains very few calories. This means that consuming this vegetable helps to keep the heart healthy and also ensure that the functioning of the circulatory system is optimal. Saturated fats are also known as "bad fats". Consumption of saturated fats in excessive amounts results in augmented cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, which is detrimental for our heart and also overall health. Elevated levels of blood cholesterol may result in several heart ailments, including cardiac arrest and heart stroke.
Kohlrabi is generally safe for most people and has very few side effects. Nevertheless, this vegetable may contain goitrogens which have a negative influence on the thyroid gland, resulting to its swelling. Therefore, people suffering from problems related to the thyroid gland should essentially keep away from consuming kohlrabi.
The best quality kohlrabi, an eye-catching stem vegetable, is available during the winter months, mainly between November and March. It is important to note that excessive mature plants and exposing the crop to too much sunlight makes the texture of the stem woody and hard, thereby causing its edible quality to deteriorate. Freshly obtained kohlrabi should have a crispy texture and be very flavourful.
While purchasing kohlrabi from stores, you should look for medium-sized freshly harvested tubers that have a heavy feeling compared to their size. Ensure that you do not buy kohlrabies that have cuts or cracks or are mold infested or damaged. Also avoid buying the vegetable if its weight is lighter compared to its size or it has too woody texture, because this is an indication of the fact that the vegetable is over mature. Such vegetables are not appetizing, so it is advisable that you keep off them.
Kohlrabi is one vegetable that keeps well for a long period - it has a long shelf life. You can store this vegetable for three to five days even at room temperature. If you want to store kohlrabi for a longer period, you should keep the vegetable in a refrigerator where the temperature is set under 35°F. In addition, it is important to maintain a high level of humidity to ensure that the vegetable remains lively.